Next generation Trojan and malware programs continue to get more sophisticated and can wreak financial and personal havoc for everyone from consumers to small to large businesses. Just last night I spent over an hour on the phone with my computer protection
software provider watching them perform forensics on my home pc. Turns out that a Trojan had made it past my anti-virus software and had overtaken my system. The technician finally identified the virus and informed me a harmful key logging program was waiting
to be activated.
The reality is that this could just as easily have been a PC at a small business, causing the type of financial damage that the FBI is currently warning businesses about.
However, the reason these stories make the news is that they are, actually quite rare. As well as running anti-virus and other security tools on PCs, or using comprehensive authentication methods to provide a layer of security, financial institutions generally
will have an online banking defense program that includes a combination of authentication, real-time transactional monitoring, and behavioral profiling. Despite my personal experiences yesterday, I would still be the first person to say that stories like this
shouldn't stop you from banking online. Instead you just have to be sensible, whether you are banking as a consumer or a business.
The first rule is that you can’t assume a single measure like anti-virus software will catch everything. Be aware of the websites you visit and do not open e-mail from those you addresses you do not trust. Even seemingly "friendly" sites or emails can have
masked programs waiting to infiltrate your system.
It is also important that you take advantage of all the security measures your financial institution makes available and don't hesitate to contact them for advice on using online banking securely. I would also encourage businesses to ensure they have activated
the alerts capability of their online banking (if available) so that they are contacted if any changes are made to their information or accounts.
I would still recommend that people and businesses continue to embrace online banking and electronic payments. One of the most important roles you can play in protecting yourself from fraud is to regularly check your banking activity and flag anything suspicious
to your financial institution at the earliest possible opportunity, and online banking really makes that easy and straightforward to do. Hopefully this warning from the FBI will encourage greater vigilance, without stopping any consumer or business from seeing
the real benefits that online banking can deliver.