Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010
While businesses and consumers alike are attracted by the flexibility of online banking, it should be noted that this great tool carries inherent security risks. Consider that FBI Director, Robert Mueller, recently announced that he had been banned by his wife from using his online banking service after he nearly became the victim of a phishing scam.

Muller's wife was probably right to be concerned. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) research found 6 million people are exposed to scams and frauds during any given year, with over 800,000 falling victim in some way. The financial losses are of major concern – with almost $1 billion in losses.

Lloyd Borrett, AVG (AU/NZ) Marketing Manager said, “The use of the Internet by cyber-criminals to mass-market fraudulent schemes is unprecedented and increasing rapidly. Given that so many of these criminal perpetrators are not within easy reach of Australian law enforcement agencies, all businesses need to be more vigilant than ever, especially while banking online.”

For businesses, the threats posed by online banking may be more acute given the dangers associated with so-called "insider threats". IT security experts have long contended that a company's own staff pose a bigger criminal threat than external criminals. While this may no longer be accurate given the entry of organised criminal gangs in the mid-nineties and the resulting increasing sophistication of cyber-criminals, online banking certainly provides a new channel for these internal or external criminals to steal money or confidential information.

Recent research by AVG revealed that the number of financial transactions conducted over the Internet are on the rise, with 85 percent of people now using the Internet for shopping, and over two-thirds doing their banking online. The research also showed that fears about cyber theft are rising too, with 43 percent of those surveyed saying they felt more susceptible to cyber theft than burglary, assault or robbery.

Fears over cyber-crime are to be expected in the digital age, especially as 3 in 10 people have experienced fraudulent behaviour over the Internet, including fraudulent emails, credit card fraud, and unauthorised bank transfers. Despite these concerns, the AVG survey also revealed that approximately 30 percent of respondents did not feel they were taking adequate steps to protect themselves from fraudulent online activity.

Banks could also be doing more. For example, the use of drop-down menus as part of the log-in process can help defeat key-logging software. Criminals use this software to record key-strokes. Drop-down menus can not be recorded in this way as they are activated by the user's mouse. Other approaches include external devices sent to customers which generate unique pin-numbers each time the user accesses their account.

There is general awareness of at least some of the risks associated with online banking, and knowledge of some of the tools that can be employed to combat it. The awareness and knowledge must grow on both sides and, most importantly, once gained should not be ignored.

What you need to know to protect your business against Cyber Theft

Q. What is Cyber Theft?

A. Cyber Theft is the term we use to describe financial loss or identity fraud that could happen to you as a direct result of entering personal information while on the Internet usually for the purposes of banking, shopping or gaming.

Q. How can I prevent Cyber Theft happening to me?

A. There are a number of steps you can take to reduce the risk of becoming a victim of Cyber Theft including:

1. Check that an Online Internet payment system has a padlock symbol displayed in either the bottom right-hand corner of the web page or in the address bar.
2. Never access an online payment system via a link contained in an email.
3. Never send money to people or organisations that you have not heard of.
4. Check the Electronic Money Association website -
5. Make sure your Internet security software gives you comprehensive protection. AVG Internet Security Business Edition, was designed for this purpose and provides ideal protection.

Q. I already have antivirus software on my PC – does that mean I’m protected?

A. Not necessarily. Anti-virus software is designed to keep your computer protected against known viruses and spot unusual behaviour patterns that indicate unknown viruses – many of them are simply trying to disrupt or harm your computer in some way, and spread themselves to other computers. Most often they are not created for the purposes of committing Cyber Theft. The most common ways to commit Cyber Theft is with spyware or phishing.

Q. What is spyware?

A. Spyware is similar to a virus in that it is an unwanted program that runs unnoticed on your computer. Spyware ranges from adware (a nuisance, but comparatively low risk) through to surveillance software (scans your hard disk for private data such as credit card numbers, passwords and other personal information). This type of spyware then sends this information back over the Internet to the criminals that made the spyware.

Q. How does spyware get on to my computer?

A. Your computer is most at risk from infection from spyware if you use file sharing applications such as music or video sharing software or web sites.

Often a fraudster will send an email containing malware (or malicious software) to an unsuspecting computer user. Once the email has been opened the malware will be automatically downloaded onto their computer. Malware can also be contained in downloads from the internet. Depending upon the type of malware it may enable the fraudster to capture personal information and passwords.

Q. How can I tell if I have spyware?

A. The whole point of spying on people is to remain undetected so they can collect referral fees on adverts or by exploiting and making use of stolen information like credit card numbers.

The very worst kinds of spyware are designed to operate in stealth mode in order to avoid being discovered. Unprotected PCs can often have several different types of spyware running at the same time. One visible sign that your computer may be infected with spyware is that it starts to become slow or prone to crashing. This is because spyware applications interfere with the computer’s operating system making it slow and unreliable.

If you have antispyware software installed on your PC, or a security suite that includes antispyware such as AVG Internet Security Business Edition, you can both scan for and isolate spyware that may be on your PC, stopping it from relaying information back to its fraudulent creator.

Q. What is phishing?

A. A fraudster will send an email to a large number of people claiming to be from a bank or other legitimate online business such as a shop or auction website. The email will usually contain a link to a fake but realistic, and credible looking website where the user will be asked to update personal information such as their passwords or account details which can then be used by the fraudster. Again, security suites that include anti-spam or anti-phishing components such as AVG Internet Security Business Edition can usually ensure that emails like this are moved to Junk or Spam folders in your email inbox.

Q. How common is Cyber Theft?

A. According to the results of an extensive independent survey of Internet users, as many as 3 in 10 people claimed to have experienced fraudulent behaviour over the Internet including fraudulent emails, credit card fraud and unauthorised bank transfers.

Q. Should I be worried?

A. The AVG study shows that Cyber Theft is one of the most feared crimes with people believing themselves more susceptible to online fraudsters than any other criminals. According to research, 87% of people admit they are worried about the threat of cyber theft. However, AVG is doing what we can to help you combat Cyber Theft, and there are other organisations working nationally to help deal with Cyber Theft.

Follow the advice above, keep your PC secure and protected (and that protection updated), and you should have little to worry about.

For more AVG security tips, see

In addition to following the advice above, every organisation needs a simple and powerful way to keep their business safe. AVG Internet Security Business Edition delivers complete protection for SMBs, businesses and enterprises seeking to protect their servers, workstations, networks and email systems. For more information, see

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