How to Use Internet Banking Really Safely, Part I

mouse_on_hookIt is not a secret that the hunger for other people’s valuable data is still increasing, despite the many steps taken by software vendors and banks to tighten online security. The hunt for access data from online banking accounts began shortly after banks started offering the convenience of online access to their clientele. Back in those days it was relatively easy for a malicious hacker to get into someone else’s bank account, see its balance, and perform banking operations, such as outbound transfers. For example, hackers used numerous vulnerabilities in Windows XP, which didn’t even have an embedded software firewall to begin with. To exploit those vulnerabilities, a malefactor used so called “exploits” which were pieces of code inserted into an innocent-looking webpage. Then the hacker would send enticing spam email messages luring to the webpage containing the malicious exploit code.

The spam would target a particular area or even a particular sector (e.g., the business sector), and hackers usually ordered this kind of service from a spammer or did the spamming him- or herself. When a prospective victim clicked on that link and went to the webpage, the exploit code would execute, and if the system wasn’t protected well enough, a trojan horse would be downloaded and executed on the victim’s computer. After that, the malicious person would gain almost complete control over the victim’s computer, and become capable of gathering all sorts of information from it (i.e., keystrokes, files, passwords – you name it).

Since those days, several years have passed, several versions of Windows have changed, countless security updates, patches and numerous service packs have been released. Banks have also been putting great effort in their attempts to fight this kind of cybercrime by alerting their customers of new threats and circulating spam messages, implementing new and more advanced security measures to their websites, and devising clever methods to make transactions more secure (e.g. multifactor authentication and single-usage codes). Despite all of this, society is still faced with this problem of insufficient banking, transaction, and personal data security.

In the next part, let’s talk about an interesting method for making your banking transactions really secure, even if you use your machine for extensive browsing, even of not always trustworthy websites, and are not very convinced that it is completely safe for use for banking operations.