Scary Online Banking Virus in the News!

Anybody who banks online knows to check their account periodically to reconcile your transactions and verify your balance. By keeping a close eye on your balance, as well as checking for unauthorized transactions, you could immediately identify any fraudulent activity with your account and report it asap, or can you? Well, a new version of the SpyEye Trojan just made the news and is making many rethink how they monitor their bank accounts online. This trojan has been used to to steal funds from consumer’s accounts with a twist, it covers it tracks, and edits the balance you see displayed on your computer, making you think your money is still there!

Recently, a large retail bank in the United States spotted this new financial malware variant and shared the discovery with the Security firm Trusteer. This sophisticated version of the SpyEye Trojan not only helps cyber-criminals steal funds from your online bank accounts, but it also displays a spoofed webpage with a seemingly normal balance and transaction activity to prevent you from even noticing that your account has been drained! Of course you will eventually notice the fraud if you check your account from a clean computer, ATM, or a paper statement. But the delay in noticing the fraud will buy these bank-robbers some extra time to thoroughly clean you out.

Your Virus Protection Isn’t Perfect

The Chief Technology Officer for Trusteer, Amit Klein, said he believes criminals have used the technique for a few months, and it has infected real consumers. At least now, the security software industry is aware of the new threat so they can begin protecting their customers. If you ever wondered why your antivirus software didn’t protect you in the first place, I already covered that before at this link.  Besides that, you probably got infected because you were tricked, deceived, persuaded, bribed, or just plain bamboozled into clicking on some malicious link.

Sometimes, these trojans are hidden inside advertisements on legitimate websites, so don’t let your guard down, even on websites you have visited safely before.  Anyway, your first line of defense isn’t your antivirus program, its your finger, the one on your mouse. But don’t let your curiosity control your finger too much, because it will eventually get you infected.

Even with Antivirus software that has been updated to detect trojans such as SpyEye, it might go undetected because the trojan might not be completely active until the infected computer visits an online banking site. It may also, randomly change names and folder locations making it a moving target, which makes it especially hard to find. Malware detection is NOT perfect, but that’s the compromise most of us made when we chose to rely on mainstream antivirus software that primarily works on blacklist technology.

But make no mistake, if you are infected with this trojan and visit your bank’s website, it will attempt to steal your login credentials, as well as tricking you into providing additional sensitive information such as debit card information which they may use for fraudulent transactions.

Ways to Monitor Your Bank Account

Keeping a close eye on your bank transactions by logging in and out of your account everyday may not be enough anymore. Because with this type of financial malware, you just might login without ever noticing that you have already been ripped off. Its kind of like a spy movie where they break into a high security facility and substitute the real-time security camera feed with a pre-recorded video loop that that doesn’t show anything going on. Meanwhile, the bad-guys are draining your account, which might only take them just one day to do.

Just know that this malware doesn’t affect the bank system itself, just the computer you are viewing your account on. So now is a good time to start monitoring your bank account from more than one computer (hopefully at least one of them is clean), your smart phone, ATM, or a paper statement.

online purchase

Keep Windows and Web Browsers Up-to-Date

If you primarily rely on your PC to bank online with, it is imperative that you keep Windows updated and don’t use a vulnerable web browser. That not only means using the latest browser version, but to also keep your plugins updated, as well as locking down your browser settings.

In many cases, if you keep Windows up-to-date, including your browser such as Internet Explorer or Firefox, you probably won’t get infected, because most of these trojans exploit known vulnerabilities that can be simply patched by installing the latest updates.

My Tough Love Statement

I warn people about spyware prevention all the time, and the situation isn’t much different than getting advice about diet and exercise. All I know is that there aren’t many skinny people around these days, not to mention computers with the proper balance of security software. Sadly, many of my customers have surrendered to the idea that they will be computer illiterate forever. Sorry, but I can’t accept that idea. I can tell you that there was a time when I didn’t even want to touch a PC, but here I am now. Then there are those who have adequate computer knowledge, but go cheap on security software.

But there are also the paranoid that go overboard on security and experiment with everything under the sun and end up infecting their computer anyway during their quest for the ultimate programs to secure their computer. And finally, there are another group of paranoids that absolutely won’t do anything financial online. Sorry, but that sounds like a strict diet of tofu and brown rice to me.

You Only Have to Be Scared of Banking Online if You Can’t Keep Your Computer Clean

Being in the business of repairing computers, I have been making purchases and banking online 6 days a week (closed Sun) for many years now without a single fraudulent charge as a result of any malware, and I owe that success to some basic spyware prevention techniques and a few top-tier security products that I have covered many times before on this blog. Trust me, it is a lot easier to learn prevention than to learn how to repair, and it doesn’t matter if you are 15 or 50.

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