How Secure Is Your Bank Account?

On one level, the average bank account is relatively safe. The system of online banking, although subject to media horror stories, is on the whole largely safe and secure.

Admittedly, banks do suffer breaches of their systems, often resulting in the loss of personal data, but as online banking starts to mature, we are not in a desperate state.

However, as online banking becomes mainstream and cyber-criminals become more active and confident, we are now in need of a new generation of security devices.

As with many things in life, online banking systems which rely on username and password checks, Chip and Pin devices, and telephone work perfectly well in practice, but usually fall down due to human error.

The movies like to depict dastardly hackers breaking into bank main frames, but what it usually comes down to is cyber thefts stealing individual personal identities, or comprising their computer. Being secure online is a huge area of discussion, but there are still hundreds of thousands of people who do not realise how vulnerable they are online.

Poor personal security is behind most online thefts. Computers without proper anti-virus programmes, easily breakable passwords, poorly hidden personal information and an air of gullibility when faced with phishing attacks, are the cause of most problems.

But when banks are forced to try and improve their systems, they are faced with customer reluctance when introducing new security measures, as they feel overwhelmed and do not wish to further complicate their lives. Banks are stuck between needing to heighten their security, whilst at the same time not burdening their customers with impractical controls.

As Alex Bray, Retail Channels Director at Misys Banking Systems, says: “Give customers a sense of security. Dispense with additional devices – fobs, card readers etc – they are inconvenient and discourage regular use. Instead, invest in biometric authentication that provides users with rigorous security and is still easy to use.”

Biometric authentication is the way forward for bank security. It relies on the almost fool proof system of using a physical characteristic to identify a person. Thus, it does not have the vulnerability of say a password, which once written down, stored, or used, can be compromised.

Biometric authentication has been around for decades, but has been mainly used by large IT operations which need to guard access to a particular system. Although they do the job, they are expensive to set-up, slow to operate and intrusive to the user. As technology has made such rapid progress over the last 20 years, these systems can now be used within the consumer market.

There are a number of methods within the process of biometric authentication, such as eye scans, typing patters, palm geometry, and voice and facial recognition. But proving to be one of the most popular techniques is fingerprint recognition. The computer industry has already led the way with fingerprint technology, allowing users to unlock their devices only with their own unique fingerprints.

The banking sector see this as the way forward. If you combine a fingerprint reader, along with a password, or PIN, you have the most robust and secure system that is currently possible.

Online banking security is set to make dramatic improvements over the coming years.