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It Isn't Safer To Check Your Account Often Online

Given the level of malware we see evading virtually every anti-virus or security fix internet banking has never been less safe.

At present the most sensible course of action is to put a freeze on your credit file, switch the majority of your funds a non-internet account and use cash. If the only one who knows about your account is you and the bank and you make sure the bank will only let you personally withdraw funds with additional id then you should be safe.

Given the record of banks in not recognizing customer's claims for losses you'd be foolish to assume you'll fare any better.

Advice to 'check your account often' is probably bad advice if you would normally do so online. You are merely giving fraudsters more opportunity to gain your credentials, or simply empty your account with a man-in-the-middle-attack.

My wife, who is no security expert, spotted an easy to exploit flaw in her own online banking which would allow a fraudster to easily empty her account - even though the bank uses a form of out of band authentication - SMS.(It really isnt out of band because you enter it into your browser). You don't need her mobile or any hard to get fraud kit in order to exploit that system.

Recent nonce-sense with 'leading' UK bank's online security has highlighted the gaping flaws in most bank systems. Banks do not - according to Javelin, suffer the brunt of fraud - the merchants (and ultimately the consumers) do. Banks have little incentive to provide better security, and generally appear to adopt the 'each as bad as the other' approach.

The move towards debit rather than credit will for sure be followed by a trend back to cash. Banks will only have themselves to blame.

Between banks, transaction processors and credit reference agencies an environment has been created which is so unsafe that i would generally advise people that if they can't afford to lose the money - don't internet bank. If they owe money they should only ever use cash - the lower fees will offset the interest being paid on your debt. Cash is King.

I prefer it. I'm certain that most all others do to. Of course the only ones who really don't like it is banks, because moving and counting and exchanging it requires work, real actual physical work, rather than mere manipulation of digits.

The trouble is that banks are not very good at digits, they are better at the prettying up than the actual substance - and substance is something they lose sight of with every new 'product' that they cook up. Meanwhile they've lost track of what good old-fashioned banking is all about - both on an individual scale protecting your money - and on a massive scale with the hot-air financial system which seems to be powered by something that smells like methane.

There is however some good on the horizon. Global warming, no matter the cause, will have effects which will change the global economic system anyway.

Governments will be printing money pretty constantly well into the future, you haven't seen anything yet. In the 21st century we'll live by a new set of numbers, where billions are like discarded decimal places within the endless budgets which will be required to move cities, cultures and nations to higher ground and hopefully clean up as we go. There's business in recycling those cities.

Economic growth and consumption will not be a problem - there'll be plenty to do - we just need to focus on sustainable solutions. There'll be plenty of money splashing around soon enough that we'll look upon the bailouts as insignificant.

Until then - look after your money and if you can't afford to lose it - the honest advice is - don't give it to any bank that can.


Comments: (2)

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 17 November, 2009, 15:52Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Sounds like the outline for yet another apocalypse movie.  They are all good fun, but for me I'll choose to monitor my accounts frequently (because data show that rapid detection is correlated with lower losses to bank and consumer) and protect my data from both offline and online exposure (because data show that criminals steal information through both low and high-tech methods). As industry shares control of identity and account records with identity holder we'll get identity fraud under control, using the latest technology to turn the tables on criminals. 


A Finextra member
A Finextra member 25 November, 2009, 22:52Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Re catastrophe:

Cockermouth not close enough to home? Someone is going to have to pay to fix those bridges  - anyone have any cash?

I found this apt quote from the Economist - the description of Napoleon is by Louis Madelin, his contemporary and biographer:

"He would deal with three or four alternatives at the same time and endeavour to conjure up every possible eventuality—preferably the worst. This foresight, the fruit of meditation, generally enabled him to be ready for any setback, nothing ever took him by surprise … perhaps the most astonishing characteristic of his intellect was the combination of idealism and realism which enabled him to face the most exalted visions at the same time as the most insignificant realities. And, indeed, he was in a sense a visionary, a dreamer of dreams."

I believe awareness increases empowerment - and putting ones head in the sand in this case will only lead to being found drowned in an unflattering position. The parallels in corporate management are there...

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