Can you trust online banking?

Hamish Barwick

Hamish Barwick has written about everything from fashion to food but has been writing about technology for the past four years. Prior to joining IDG Communications in September 2010, he worked at Fairfax New Zealand for Computerworld Australia's Kiwi counterpart.

It seems like a week can’t go past without an Australian bank has suffering service outages or missed payments, or becoming the subject of hacking attempt or phishing scam.

NAB and the Commonwealth Bank were in the spotlight this month, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see Westpac or NAZ grace the headlines in the near future.

It seems the world of modern banking is one fraught with danger.

BitDefender last week reported a new phishing discovery: Trojan.VB.Agent.HS, a virus spread through Yahoo!’s instant messaging system that attempts to lure the unsuspecting to fake banking sites.

The trick is hardly new: Customers of all the big four have been the target of phishing attempts, and they are joined by the likes of Credit Union Australia, and even both the Reserve Bank and the Australian Tax Office. No-one, it seems, is safe.

The danger-fraught landscape does raise the question: How safe is online banking?

When three of the big four suffer online login issues, their solution is essentially the same: Back to phone banking.

Frankly, I’m a fan of phone banking because, let’s face it, would a hacker really try and listen in via a landline phone to some poor journalist’s account?

When it does come to online banking, however, I change my password frequently.

To the banks’ credit, they have made efforts to curb the increase in online danger. Commonwealth Bank recently signed with McAfee to provide NetBank customers the security vendor’s anti-virus package. It’s a ploy other banks are sure to follow suit on, however insignificant the effects may end up being.

So what about the future? Will people give up on online banking and store money under their bed again?

One entrepreneur believes non-traditional companies like Facebook may change the online banking landscape. Founder and president of Metal International, Ken Rutkowski, told Techworld Australia that the social networking giant was attempting to position its credits portfolio as a viable alternative to the financial institutions often held down by bricks and mortar.

But given the social networking site’s privacy issues and third party attacks such as the fake Twilight: Breaking Dawn game doing the rounds, I wouldn’t be too keen to trust them with my money.

Do you think online banking is safe? Let us know below!

Hamish Barwick writes about security for Computerworld, CIO and Techworld Australia.

Tags: online banking

Show Comments