Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert

Why hack your online bank? Because that’s where the money is!

FINEXTRA reports A US couple who had thousands of dollars stolen from their online account have been given the go-ahead by a court to sue their bank for failing to provide adequate security. In 2007 the couple fell victim to an ID thief who gained access to their Citizens Financial Bank online account and stole $26,500 from a home equity credit line.

The money was transferred, via a bank in Hawaii, to a financial institution in Austria. The Austrian bank refused to return the funds, prompting Citizens to inform the couple that they would be liable for the loss.

The couple refused to pay, leading the bank to report their account as delinquent to the national credit bureaus and threaten to foreclose on their residence. In response, the couple sued the bank on several grounds, claiming violations of the Electronic Funds Transfer Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act, in the northern district of Illinois.

Who should be responsible? Well the jury’s out. Literally.

Questions such as did they give their data to a Phisher? Were they dumb or was it just dumb luck? Was their anti-virus up to date? Will that matter? Should the bank activate their zero liability policies and simply chalk it up to a loss? I’m a big believer in personal responsibility. However if the bank offered a system that can be easily defeated then maybe they should take some responsibility.

White hat hackers (good guys) probably never anticipated what’s happening. There are more ways to compromise data today than ever. There are more viruses out there now more than ever before. Studies show the amount of viruses quadrupled from over 15,000 in 2007 to almost 60,000 in 2008. Black hat hackers (bad guys) are in full force.

Back in the year 2000 some have said the white hats were about a year ahead of the black hats in technology. Meaning it would take about a year for the bad guys to crack the white hats stuff. Others research shows by 2004 the black hats were about 2 weeks behind the white hats. Here we are in 2009. In many cases the black hats are years ahead of the white hats. The good guys are losing. Badly.

Many of the new viruses sit on your hard drive dormant, waiting to be “woken up” when they are signaled. Many of these Trojans are designed to sniff out when you are banking online. They sit and wait, then strike when you log on.

Consider that in our own bodies we already have numerous viruses that come alive when our immune system is down or when it’s woken up by coming on contact with another. Your PC is no different, there’s often something lurking in there. We get viruses on our PC simply by visiting a website, clicking on a link or downloading a program we think is clean, and many many more ways.

The problem is the technology of the criminal hacker has evolved and is further evolving faster than the white hats. This means you have to be on your game. Don’t let your guard down and stay informed.

1. Get a credit freeze. Go online now and search “credit freeze” or “security freeze” and go to consumersunion.org and follow the steps for the state you live in. This is an absolutely necessary tool to secure your credit. In most cases it prevents new accounts from being opened in your name. This makes the SSN useless to the thief.

2. Invest in Intelius Identity Theft Protection. While not all forms of identity theft can be prevented, you can effectively manage your personal identifying information by knowing what’s buzzing out there in regards to YOU.

3. Make sure your McAfee anti-virus is up to date and set to run automatically.

4. Update your web browser to the latest version. An out of date web browser is often riddled with holes worms can crawl through.

5. Check your bank statements often, online, at least once a week.

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Speaker discussing online banking insecurity

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