Internet Banking - Be Careful

Banking has never been easier. Type in one simple Web address and you have access to your bank for almost anything, from viewing the latest balance to transferring money to your friend to paying for that online purchase.

However, this convenience has its set of risks too. The stepping of financial institutions into the virtual realm has lead to a new breed of financial criminals. Criminals, who largely thrive on the innocuousness of netizens and technology loopholes.

Here's how cyber crooks operate and make merry with your bank accounts online.

You receive an email from an unknown address with an enticing subject line, like 'Pakistan missiles attack India' with an attachment that supposedly includes a news story. You open the file. Instead of a news story, a piece of malicious software gets secretly installed itself on your computer.

Another category of mails can be those that may tell you that your account is about to get closed, or ironically warn you that someone appears to have stolen your identity, or even say that someone has opened a fraudulent account using your name.

And to get immediate redressal, you are supposed to click on the link attached/pasted in the mail and provide some basic account information to verify your identity and then give further details to get everything cleared up.

And remember, these messages can follow any route: email, instant messaging, SMS or social networking sites (the latest platform). The emails may actually look like a genuine message from your bank, financial institution or a popular online portal.

The software absorbs the PC into a botnet, a network of infected computers doing the bidding of a cyber criminal, begins sending spam; you don't notice, other than thinking that PC is slowing. But that is only the smallest part of the game.

The software also logs your keystrokes without your knowledge. This means they save your passwords and other personal information.

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