The recent virus scam that prompted the FBI to shut down a series of internet servers, cutting online access for more than 300,000 people across the globe, is a chilling reminder about the growing dangers of cybercrime.
As more and more people turn to internet and mobile banking, fraudsters have switched their attentions to scams in the online realm.
“Cybercrime is becoming increasingly sophisticated; extending its reach beyond traditional borders,” says John Holbrook, an information technology security expert with Valley First. “There have been a number of large scale security breaches recently that underscore the reach and seriousness of cybercrime. Fortunately, Canadians have been relatively unscathed by these attacks.”
While Holbrook points out Canada has been lucky so far, he cautions businesses and individuals cannot become complacent. Online scams involving malware, Trojans and other malicious viruses that give fraudsters unauthorized access to their victims accounts are becoming more common. As a result, they are also becoming increasingly difficult to detect.
“In the past, tellers dealt with counterfeit cheques and other more visible scams,” explains Holbrook. “Online crime is harder to monitor because there is often nothing tangible involved. It is usually perpetrated between the individual and the fraudster removing that extra set of eyes that in-branch banking provides.”
Despite the headlines, online and mobile banking remains a safe and convenient option. There are also some tell-tale warning signs people should look out for, such as unusual or unexplained account transactions, transfers to pre-paid cards and ongoing system maintenance, especially on business accounts.
“At Valley First, we tightly integrate different security mechanisms to best protect our member information,” says Holbrook. “We also stay on top of fraud trends and changes in the industry so we are in the best position to respond and adapt as new scams emerge.”
People can also protect themselves at home by using up to date anti-virus and anti-malware software and being careful to open emails or download attachments from safe source, says Holbrook.
“To get the best level of protection, steer clear of free anti-virus software. While the price might be right, the level of protection is probably wrong. Also, if you don’t recognize something, err on the side of caution and don’t click on it.”