Vulnerability of online banking exposed

01 October 2004
New research has shown that as many as half of those who bank online are vulnerable to internet fraud.

APACS, the UK's payment association, has discovered that significant numbers are simply unaware of the dangers that face them.

Half a million people (four per cent of those who bank online) would instantly respond to an email - supposedly from their bank - asking them to follow a link and re-enter their security details, without checking with their bank first. The sending of fake emails is an established technique, known as phishing, employed by fraudsters to get hold of consumers' bank details.

Moreover, one in four people routinely check their account from computers without updated virus software and 41 per cent do so without an activated firewall.

One in four people use the same password for their online account as they use for - potentially insecure - other web sites and more than half of online banking customers have never changed their password.

In response to this apparent vulnerability APACS have today launched a new website designed to tell consumers how to protect themselves against fraud.

www.banksafeonline.org.uk explains how phishing and Trojan attacks happen, as well as how to combat the scams.

The site explains all the key terms and gives step-by-step guides on how internet users can go about protecting their computers.

The service will be constantly updated whenever new scams emerge, as well as being able to alert the banking industry to any threats consumers come across online.

Sandra Quinn, of APACS, noted: "With 14 million people banking online in the UK - the four per cent who say they would respond to a scam email allegedly from their bank is still too high and they could unwittingly be giving fraudsters access to their accounts.

"The new website we are launching today sets out the simple steps you need to take and will hopefully encourage anyone who hasn't thought about protecting themselves before to start doing so now."

APACS comments that the best advice for consumers to protect themselves is straightforward:

Treat all unsolicited emails with caution - and never click on links or attachments or reply to unsolicited mail. To install anti-virus software, keep it up-to-date as well as running regular security scans. To install and learn how to use a personal firewall and finally to install the latest security updates or patches.
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