May 2nd, 2002, 04:18 PM
Online banks: Prime targets for attacks
Although electronic break-ins are nothing new, their frequency has been quietly mounting in recent years as more banks rush online to provide services for consumers who are finally using the Web in significant numbers to manage their money. The popularity of online banking is projected to grow from 22 million households in 2002 to 34 million in 2005, according to Financial Insite, publisher of the Online Banking Report newsletter.
While not explosive, that steady increase represents a sea change in public perception about online banking, in many ways one of the last frontiers of electronic commerce. Along with safeguarding medical histories, many people view their financial information as a sacred totem--a record of their past and a window into their nest egg for the future--and are increasingly distrustful of financial institutions in today's climate of Enron- inspired paranoia.
"Let's face it, a bank is in the business of trust," said Mark Rasch, the former head of the U.S. Justice Department's computer crimes unit. "The reason you go to a bank is because you trust them not only to give you a good rate of return on your money, but also to keep your money safe and secure, and to protect your privacy associated with your finances. Attacks on the electronic infrastructure are attacks on all three of those."
An $11 billion secret
No comprehensive records on computer-related crime are public, but it is estimated to drain as much as $11 billion per year from consumers and corporations in the United States alone, with a growing portion coming from financial institutions. In their annual joint study released in April, the FBI and the Computer Security Institute, a security advocacy group, noted that the combined financial losses for 223 of 503 companies that responded to their survey came to $455 million.
- full article available from ZDNet