Organized cybercriminals have become adept at accessing consumers’ online bank accounts, exploiting either vulnerabilities in the Web-based application you access from your home computer or mobile device, or weak and easy-to-remember passwords that you use to access your account.
Either way, the result is the same—financial loss. Consumers are out their hard-earned savings, and banks lose too, taking a hit to their reputation with each successful breach.
Fraud often leads to further losses from identity theft; personal identity information, much like payment card information, is bought, sold and traded in underground markets for great profits. Figures suggest that global cybercrime costs consumers and businesses $338 billion every year. These are faceless crimes, most of them originating in Eastern Europe, with victims worldwide left with little recourse to recover their money or identities.
Consumer accounts are generally in the crosshairs of these attacks because home users don’t have the expertise or resources to protect themselves. Cybercriminals, meanwhile, have any number of tools at their disposal with which to infect home computers and hijack online bank accounts. Some of those include:
- Keylogging malware – Malware that tracks the keystrokes on a keyboard to capture personal data
- Zombie computer – a computer that has been hacked to launch malicious attacks, or to become part of a botnet
- Botnet – a network of compromised home computers that are used to spread malware
- Social engineering – using strategies like phishing to encourage users to disclose personal data
- Fast flux – moving data rapidly among botnet computers to hide the source of phishing or malware websites
- Denial-of-service attacks – flooding a network or server so that users can no longer access the service
Banks are getting better at securing their computing infrastructures and Web-based applications, but no piece of software is perfect and cybercriminals are always ready to exploit those vulnerabilities.
On the home front, consumers can take additional measures to protect their online banking sessions—most of them are common sense and relatively simple. For example, never choose personal details when coming up with a password for important online activities. Weak passwords are the easiest to break for hackers, putting your money and identity immediately in jeopardy.
Also, never use the same password more than once for important online accounts and never store your passwords in clear text in a Word document on your computer–a hacker with access to your machine will find it. And fight the urge to use convenient automatic form fillers that Web browsers provider. That data is stored in the browser, and cybercriminals have a host of tricks at their disposal to get at that too.
Security companies such as Kaspersky Lab also offer software solutions that address the security of your online bank accounts. Kaspersky PURE 3.0 comes with a number of features that tackle the soft spots hackers are most likely to take advantage of. For example, PURE 3.0 features a password manager capability that not only generates strong alpha-numeric passwords for you, but securely stores those secret codes in an encrypted vault on your computer. It also offers a cloud-based service that will sync all your important passwords securely across any device you tell it to.
PURE 3.0 also comes with technology directly built for online banking, in particular a feature that will check that the URL you entered into your browser is legitimate, and won’t redirect you to a phishing site controlled by a hacker.
In addition, the software provides you with a secure and virtual keyboard that keeps you safe from keylogger malware, preventing your keystrokes from being monitored and your passwords from being stolen.