Hunting down sophisticated banking malware: what you need to know

Banking malware and financial threats are growing in exponential numbers and change on a daily basis. Not only are you at risk for someone gaining access to your account, but for financial transactions taking place without you being aware, which could leave you in a financial disaster.

Two most of the more recent malware attacks circling the globe are Citadel, which stole personal information from its victims and Zeus, responsible for taking money from accounts and performing unauthorized wire transfers. Everyone is at risk for these pitfalls and even multilayer authentication and around-the-clock monitoring by financial institutions is not enough to prevent the compromise of your accounts.

How malware works

How malware works

It is impossible to talk about every malware attack that has occurred and how it was able to gain access to financial accounts, but the one common factor that they all have in common are instructions sent electronically, regardless of the method or program used, that make your computer do things you did not instruct it to do.

Some large software companies, such as Microsoft, have made security patches available that close up the holes in the programs allowing malware attacks to get in, but that is usually not enough. Along with the security patches and anti-virus software there is the need for anti-malware to remove malicious or unwanted programs as it is the only protection against these bugs that you can get from any file or link that you introduce your computer to.

Steps to take

It is virtually impossible to predict what the next wave of malware attacks will be, which is why it is essential that you set your computer up for protection from just about anything. The largest risk is your email account. If you are vulnerable to opening up emails and worse yet, attachments without any type of filter, you are opening yourself up to the risk of a malware attack.

A good malware removal program will help you, but you also need to be cognizant about what you are allowing into your computer. If you are in any type of financial position for work or regularly conduct online transactions, you are even more vulnerable.

As well as proper security software, you need to have spam filters set up and integrate the use of email authentication. What email authentication does is ensure that the email you are receiving is actually from the intended sender. If you have ever received an email from PayPal or your bank that looks legitimate, but you already heard the warnings that it was not, you have seen malware attacks at their finest.

By understanding what to look for before clicking on a link or entering in personal information, you can prevent yourself from falling prey to a phishing scam. Most major email programs have authentication available, but you need to use it. If the email makes it into your inbox, check the details to see that the email was “signed by” the actual sender. If the email was authenticated, it will be signed — if it was not, there will be no signature and you have received malware.

In order to take your protection a step further, you need to disable Macros in programs like Word and Excel. This precaution was common a few years ago. At that time everyone was aware of the need to disable macros because of the widespread viruses that were being spread through them. Today, those threats are less commonly heard of, but it does not mean that they do not occur. In order to ensure your protection, it is best to keep them disabled to avoid the risks.

In an effort to prevent attack by laziness, you should always check for the latest security patches for your computer and programs as well. All too often, we get lulled into a sense of security, whether because we have virus protection and malware removal software installed or because we have not heard of a recent threat — we are always at risk. Always check for the latest updates and patches and make sure they install correctly to ensure your protection.

Finding the latest financial or banking malware practices is not an easy task. The only way to keep yourself protected is to continually monitor your computer’s operations. Never get comfortable with how it is operating and its protection. Continually look for updates, patches, and be extra vigilant about anything that you open and especially download. If you are going to provide personal information, make sure it is something that you initiated and not something that was sent to you. With these simple steps, you will be able to avoid the largest pitfalls of banking malware.

Have you been victim of banking malware? What do you do to protect yourself now? Let us know in the comments below.



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