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Banking online can make your life a lot
easier, but it can also give hackers a gateway to your savings. This is
especially true for small-business owners. Federal regulations require banks
to protect individuals, but not commercial clients, against losses from an
online savings account hack. With more and more entrepreneurs treating their
personal and business online accounts as one and the same, small-business
owners are starting to incur some heavy losses. (For more about the problem,
"Is Your Online Bank Account Safe?")
At the same time, hackers who target online
accounts--security experts believe the vast majority of them are located in
Russian-speaking countries--have been seriously elevating their game. Their
latest innovation is to hide viruses on high-traffic Web sites. These
viruses latch on to unsuspecting users, and allow their nefarious creators
to see everything victims are doing online. Here's a list of tips for
protecting your online accounts.
The Banking-Only Laptop
Either buy a new laptop for cheap or take one of your old ones to your
local computer repair store and have its contents erased. This will be your
transaction terminal. Don't use it for e-mailing, instant messaging, or
whatever Internet browsing you typically do. The only thing you'll use it
for will be checking your online bank account or making credit card
purchases on secure sites. This will greatly reduce the chance you'll pick
up a virus that will infect your online financial activities.
Mind Those Askew Logos
Keep an eye out for new features in your bank's online system. Does the
logo seem out of place? Is the system asking you for seemingly irrelevant
information, like your driver's license number? Signs like these could
indicate a hacker is manipulating your browser and you're not actually
interacting with your bank.
Be Wary of E-mailed Links
Don't click on an e-mailed link unless you've confirmed it's safe.
Hackers have evolved from the days of placing viruses in spam for erectile
dysfunction pills and get-rich-quick schemes. Recently, a virulent e-mail
has been floating around that appears to come from the Internal Revenue
Hold on to that Mac
Hackers generally design viruses that infect systems running on Windows;
it's not because they hate PCs, it's because there are more PC users.
Security experts say avoiding PCs won't actively shield you from picking up
a virus, but--at least for the time being--Apple users seem to be less at
risk of becoming victims.
Have Your Bank Personalize Your Security Controls
Some banks, including Citibank, let customers limit their online
capabilities so that actions like international wire transfer orders can
only be done in person. Disabling the online banking features you don't
really need gives hackers fewer ways to loot your account.
( Courtesy: Forbes Magazine )