What is Financial Malware and How to Protect Yourself

Tuesday, July 18 at 11:00 AM
Category: Personal Finance

What is Financial Malware?

Everywhere you turn today you seem to be bombarded with news coverage concerning the urgency of combating cybercrime, bad actors and hackers. There are many variations of malicious software, or “malware,” but financial malware, as its name implies is written specifically to commit financial fraud.

Cybercriminals use a variety of methods to infect their victims with malware including sending them email messages containing infected attachments or links to infected websites.

Once the victim is infected, the malware monitors the victim’s activity and may steal online banking credentials and other personal information using keystroke logging or screen shots images. 

In some cases, hackers may use the victim’s own web browser to collect sensitive information (e.g., the victim's PIN) by adding extra fields to legitimate online forms or by changing website wording and messaging, or by triggering legitimate-looking pop-up forms in real-time.

Financial malware may redirect the victim to a fake website designed to mimic a legitimate bank website. As the victim enters their credentials, the malware then redirects them into the legitimate site, potentially triggering a SMS or other second-factor authentication code that the Trojan can then capture via the fake website.

How to Protect Yourself
 
Most threats still need user interaction to infect a potential victim’s system. For this reason, becoming aware of these threats and diligently taking extra precautions can significantly reduce the risk of becoming a victim of cybercrime.  
 
  • Keep your operating system, web browser and other software up to date.
     
  • Make sure your computer has both an anti-spyware protection program that detects and removes spyware and an anti-virus program. Keep both programs updated. Scan your computer for viruses and spyware on a regular basis.
     
  • Be very protective of your personal account information. There are criminals who try to trick you by creating sites that look similar to real sites. The best way to know who you are dealing with is to type the address in your browser address bar; don’t click on a link that’s provided to you via email.
     
  • Do not open attachments in email messages if you do not know the sender or weren’t expecting the message. Attachments can contain viruses and spyware.
     
  • Avoid logging into password protected websites, such as online banking or email services from public computers. Instead, use trusted or secured networks.
     
  • Avoid downloading apps to your mobile phone from unofficial stores and pay attention to the permissions requested by apps before their installation.
     
  • Always sign off from sessions and close your browser after using password protected websites. 
     
  • Avoid using unencrypted email to conduct financial transactions or send sensitive information.
     
  • If you suspect your computer may be infected or that your online banking credentials may have been compromised, contact your bank and change your password from a different trusted computer. Contact a computer security professional for assistance in removing malicious software.
     
  • Regularly review your bank account activity and immediately notify your bank if you notice suspicious transactions in your account.
Tags: Consumer Protection, Financial Education, Privacy and Security, Technology
Bonnie Standbridge on 7/31/2017 at 5:04 PM
Thanks for the excellent protection hints. I certainly did not realize the extent to which we can be frauded online. Appreciate the help.

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