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March 14, 2006

Americans Want Banks To Spy On Their Accounts



Courtesy of TechWeb News

Nine out of ten Americans want their banks to monitor their online accounts for signs of suspicious behavior, much as credit card companies do now, a survey published Tuesday said.

Conducted by RSA Security, the poll also found that although consumers aren't seeing a rise in the number of phishing e-mails, they are increasingly wary of all electronic communiqu├ęs from their banks. According to telephone survey, 79 percent said that they were less likely to respond to e-mail from their bank because of worry over phishing scams; that's up nine points from 2004, said RSA.

A solid majority of 59 percent want their banks to contact them when something fishy is found, while 73 percent think banks should boost security by moving to a stronger authentication scheme than the typical username and password.

"Consumers seem to feel comfortable with the notion of their financial institution monitoring their online activity and contacting them when something suspicious is detected, just as they've become accustomed to [the same in] credit cards," said Chris Young, the general manager of RSA Cyota, in a statement.

RSA, which has heavily promoted its SecurID efforts in two-factor authentication to financial institutions and end-users, also said the survey claimed consumers would be willing to use tokens if they were free (43 percent) and that they wanted graphical reverse-authentication indications on bank Web sites that the URL was legit (55 percent).

Also called "watermarks," the concept relies on displaying a predefined image -- one the user defines earlier -- on the bank's log-in page to show the consumer the site is the real deal.

But the largest number of respondents voted for a behind-the-scenes authentication that wouldn't make them exert themselves when they accessed their online banking accounts.

This "risk-based authentication" requires the bank to judge whether the user is legitimate rather than the user deciding if the site is real. It relies on several factors, including log-on location, IP address, and transaction behavior to decide if an unauthorized person is trying to access an account.

The poll also said that most users (65 percent) noted either no or just a slight increase in phishing e-mails. That jibes with the data from RSA's own monitoring, which tracked attacks at the 2,500 to 3,300 range each month for the past eight months, with only small monthly increases.

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