Banks usually have relatively secure systems to maintain and protect online banking activities. They've spent billions to ensure that criminal hackers don't liquidate all of our accounts. But criminals spend all their time seeking vulnerabilities and often find some way to make a fraudulent withdrawal.
Over the past decade as we have all (mostly) banked and bought stuff online, criminals have formed organized web mobs to sniff out transactions and take over existing accounts and in some cases open up new accounts.
American Banker reports an example of what can still go wrong: "the $2 billion-asset bank is suing Wallace & Pittman, a Crosstown law firm, to recover funds the firm relayed electronically to Russia after an email that purported to be from an industry group lured someone at the firm to surrender their user name and network password, the Charlotte Observer reported."
The fraudsters used the access to install software on at least one of the firm's computers that allowed them to hijack its account.
"Masquerading as Wallace & Pittman, the thieves instructed Park Sterling to transfer roughly $336,600 through JPMorgan Chase to a recipient in Moscow. The law firm asked Park Sterling to stop the transfer after receiving confirmation of it, but the request allegedly came too late."
To defend against all of these hacks the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) recommends to financial institutions what's called a "layered approach" of anti-fraud tools and techniques to combat this type of crime. Meaning it's not simply a matter of applying a firewall and having anti-virus to protect the network, but going much deeper in protecting many interaction points within the banking site (not just login) and using a variety of proven fraud prevention solutions.
That includes sophisticated methods of identifying devices and knowing their reputation (past and current behavior and other devices they are associated with) the moment they touch the banking website. The FFIEC has recognized complex device identification strategies as a viable solution that's already proven strong at very large financial institutions. ReputationManager360 by iovation leads the charge with device reputation encompassing identification and builds on device recognition with real-time risk assessment, uniquely leveraging both the attributes and the behavior of the device.
Consumers still need to apply antivirus, antispyware and a firewall and must never respond to emails requesting usernames and passwords and avoid clicking links in emails.
Robert Siciliano, personal security and identity theft expert contributor to iovation. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Mobile was Hacked! See him knock'em dead in this identity theft prevention video. Disclosures.