Security Analyst: Customers are Weak Link in Online Banking

Taylor Armerding June 7, 2012
Today's attacks tend to try to penetrate banking systems through the curiosity, trust and lack of savvy of customers

Banking and financial enterprises have taken information security more seriously in recent years than most other industry sectors. But that does not mean banking is safe. The number of vulnerabilities for a bank is roughly equal to how many account holders it has.

"Banks are doing a good job of protecting their systems," said George Tubin, senior security analyst with the security firm Trusteer. "The weak link is the customer, who has that direct tunnel into key apps, and is extremely vulnerable. Most of them don't understand how easy it is for malware to get onto a PC."

Tubin will be preaching the gospel of improved banking and finance security by improved customer security this afternoon (Wednesday) at the 26th Annual Windy City Summit in Chicago, a three-day conference for finance professionals.

He said he will talk about how the cat-and-mouse game between financial institutions and malware attackers has evolved to the point where not only have traditional firewalls and antivirus systems become obsolete, but also enhanced authentication techniques established by the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC).

"Criminals figured out how to get around all those protections, and we started seeing tremendous losses again, especially from small businesses," Tubin said, noting that they are not as sophisticated or well-protected as larger institutions, "but have a lot more money in their accounts than individuals."