Banks on Security Alert Against Keyloggers

High-tech criminal gangs with access to sophisticated keylogging viruses pose a growing threat to banks and financial institutions.

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Recently, England’s High Tech Crime Unit foiled an effort to steal over $100 million from a Japanese bank in London.  The gang gained access to Sumitomo Corp.’s computer systems, installed keyloggers in order to learn users’ passwords, and were getting set to transfer the money to 10 bank accounts scattered around the globe when they were discovered.

Growing Threat

So what exactly is keylogging?  It’s the practice of using a small hardware device or (more commonly) software to record every action performed at a given computer’s keyboard.  Once keylogging software is installed, it’s a relatively simple matter for hackers to analyze it to learn sensitive information such as credit-card and bank-account numbers, user names, and of course passwords.

Keylogging is far from new; for several years, it’s been spread through e-mail viruses.  And “community” PCs in such places as airports and libraries have been found with hardware keyloggers installed. 

Consumers who fall prey to keylogging may find fraudulent activity in their various online accounts.  Now, as evidenced by the Sumitomo case, online criminals are upping the ante by going after corporate information.

Webroot, a security firm, says 15% of the PCs it tests have some sort of keylogging installed. 

Whether you’re at work or at home, you should follow basic security procedures to prevent a keylogger from being installed on your computer:

  • Never click on attachments in e-mail unless you know they are legitimate.
  • Use good anti-virus software, and update it regularly.
  • Scour your home PC by running a reputable spyware-finding program, such as Lavasoft’s Ad-Aware.

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