June 17, 2024

Bucks: Free Software to Protect Your Bank Account

Hackers and crooks are scheming to crack Internet banking links and steal your money and personal data. So some banks are urging you to add an extra layer of protection, by using software with the somewhat tongue-twisting name Trusteer Rapport.

Bank of America began promoting Rapport to its 29 million online banking customers this week. But the bank has been quietly offering the software on its public Web site since February to anyone who wants it — free — whether they’re a bank customer or not.

The big bank joins other institutions, like Zions Bank and ING Direct, which already offer free Rapport downloads on their Web sites.

Bank of America sees a benefit in protecting as many online users as possible, Keith Gordon, the bank’s senior vice president of online security, told me this week. “We know from talking with other banks that this is not just a Bank of America issue,” he said. “It’s an industry issue. And we’re trying to be better in collaborating with other institutions.”

Mickey Boodaei, chief executive of the Web security firm Trusteer, maker of Rapport, said the software focused on guarding your browser, which links you to your bank. The program was designed in response to the emergence of financial “malware” programs, which sneak onto your computer while you’re surfing the Web and then pilfer information sent through your browser. “Fraudsters are becoming more sophisticated,” he said.

Here’s one example of the danger: When you type your user name and password, so-called key-logging malware records your keystrokes and sends them to an attacker, who can log into your account and transfer money. Rapport encrypts your keystrokes so they can’t be identified. It also verifies that you are connected to the bank’s actual Web site, and not a fraudulent copy.

Mr. Boodaei says the latest financial malware programs are believed to be emerging from criminals based in Eastern Europe and Russia. “Financial malware acts very quickly,” he said. “If you get infected today, the malware will try to transfer money today.”

Once users download Rapport, he said, they can instruct it to protect their browser at any Web site where they disclose sensitive information, like credit card sites or online shopping sites.

Using the Rapport software isn’t mandatory for Bank of America customers, Mr. Gordon said, in part because the bank already protects account holders from losses if their account is compromised. But it is advisable, he said, because malicious software programs can also steal sensitive nonfinancial information, which can be used in identity theft. “One of the goals of malware is to go gather information,” he said.

It’s still important, Mr. Gordon said, to use antivirus software and to maintain strong passwords and other security features to protect electronic information. (Bank of America offers McAfee antivirus software to its customers free for the first year and at a discount thereafter). The idea, he said, is to create multiple layers of security, to make breaches as difficult as possible. “No one piece of technology, or particular part of the process, blocks everything.”

Do you think online banking is safe? What sorts of security measures do you take to safeguard your financial information online?

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=d0cd5d312bf522d2d61c9eb5bc583ff1

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