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E-banking security provokes fear or indifference

Brits not bothered, or hot and bothered

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A recent study by analyst Forrester Research has unearthed conflicting views about the safety or otherwise of online banking. The survey of 11,300 UK net users found that while many online banking consumers are complacent about security, a large minority have given up online banking as a direct result of security fears.

Most UK net users are aware of security threats like phishing and keystroke logging but are unfazed by these risks and expect their banks to deal with the problem - even though these attacks are thrown against consumer's PCs rather than a bank's own systems. Ideally users want banks to supply a blanket guarantee against fraud.

Based on responses to its survey, Forrester concludes that an estimated 600,000 from a total of 15m subscribers have ditched online banking as a direct result of security fears. Forrester reckons that users are confused and banks need to step up their efforts to educate customers about online fraud. Measures to restrict the functionality of some accounts (for example controlling how much money can be transferred on any day), stronger internet banking authentication and improved customer profiling are also needed to defend against security threats, it advises.

In addition to people who plan to drop net banking accounts as a result of security fears, another fifth of net users say that security fears will stop them ever banking online.

Benjamin Ensor, senior analyst of financial services at Forrester Research, said: "Net users don't know what to think about online banking security. Without the technical knowledge to judge the severity of security threats like keystroke logging and phishing or, frankly, much interest in acquiring that knowledge people struggle to reach a balanced judgment. The result is that about half of the UK's Net users are either complacent or paranoid about online banking security. So UK banks still face big communication and security problems." ®

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