Fraud Prevention on Online Banking Sites

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I remember when all you needed was a username and a password, but these days they have these crazy keypads on the screen, all these pictures, pass-phrases, and you almost wonder if these procedures are really necessary and what they protect against! Well, this is the brief guide to understanding what the heck that keypad is protecting you against and what those pictures and phrases really do.

Those little keypads where you enter in your password or your PIN without actually typing them in? That’s to prevent someone from using a keylogger to record the strokes on your keyboard and then steal your account by learning your password that way.

Passphrase & Picture:

What about the secret pass-phrase and the associated picture? That’s to prevent someone from sending you an email with a link, you clicking on it, and then entering your username and pin/password into the phisher or thief’s login because they won’t be able generate this picture and pass-phrase for you. Since phishers just send out mass emails and hope for some suckers to bite, they won’t know your username and email beforehand… otherwise they’d just try to login, steal the picture, and show it to you.

Questions, Questions, Questions:
Lastly, all these questions? That’s just one of the three cornerstones of identification, the something you know part and is stronger than the pin and password. The other two are something you are, like a biometric of some kind, and something you have, like an ATM card or one of those SecureID fob things.

{ 3 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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3 Responses to “Fraud Prevention on Online Banking Sites”

  1. Matt says:

    Quite annoying, however, to those of us who choose secure PINs and passwords, and aren’t foolish enough to do banking from an operating system that’s vulnerable to malware.

    At GEICO, where I just signed up for car insurance this week, for example, one of the security question choices was “what was the name of the hospital you were born in?”. Except that the name of the hospital I was born in contains an apostrophe, which is a prohibited character in the answer category. I doubt I’ll forget that I was born at San Francisco Children’s Hospital, but what are the odds I’m going to remember their prohibited-characters list the next time I’m trying to log in, and know that I have to omit the apostrophe? (I chose a different security question.) They also lose for requiring a password containing both letters and numbers, but NOT beginning with a number and NOT containing more than 8 characters, which throws my typical “generate a secure password for financial stuff” algorithm completely out the window.

    They did give me a great rate, though, and unlike online banking sites, I doubt I’ll be going back to theirs more than twice a year when it’s time to renew…so the fact that their “security” measures make the site almost useless to me isn’t very relevant.

  2. jim says:

    I totally agree, they’re irrelevant to me too but we’re in the minority when it comes to computer savviness and just being straight up smart about where and when you access sensitive data. I do like the fact that you can now set “home” on some sites so you can avoid all the questions, for the longest time I couldn’t access my ING account because I couldn’t remember how exactly I typed my high school’s name (with or without “high school” or did I put HS or what)

    It can be infuriating at times… but it keeps costs down because other people won’t be likely scammed, so it’s good for the group. 🙂

  3. Mrs L says:

    I like the sites that let you write your own security question. That gives you anti-phishing and identification in one.

    The worst are the sites that don’t give you enough choice of questions and all of them are unsuitable. ‘What was the street you grew up on?’ is hardly useful to a military brat, and questions that ask for your favorite something are just stupid because favorites change. One bank asked me for a ‘memorable place’. Huh? How the heck am I supposed to remember which place was most memorable to me at the time I set up the account? (The answer: Of course I had to write it down and file it with the account paperwork… luckily that account has some other security features, so someone couldn’t break in just with that piece of paper.)

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