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HKMA Asks Banks to Step up Interest Security

Authorities have asked banks in Hong Kong to enhance their Internet security systems following the news that over 289,000 HK dollars (US$37,000) had been stolen in several incidents of online bank invasions.

The HKMA (Hong Kong Monetary Authority) said - the thieves stole the money in three different attacks when they accessed people's accounts after infecting their PCs with banking credential-stealing viruses.

It is also said that thieves are employing more and more sophisticated means to break into online bank accounts. The latest instances involved installing a harmful Trojan virus to infect computers of bank customers in order to steal their usernames and passwords. With this information, funds were transferred to third party accounts.

A South China Morning Post report suggests that eight banks fell to attacks since April 2009. Consequently, the HKMA had circulated a notice instructing all banks that they should enhance their security measures, particularly alert customers immediately through any means, including text message whenever a fund transfer is made online out of their accounts to a third party, the Authority confirmed.

Moreover, Roy Ko, Computer Security Expert and Manager of the Hong Kong Computer Emergency Response Team Co-ordination Center, cautioned that it was now the responsibility of consumers who conducted online banking to safeguard their personal accounts, as reported by sun2surf on July 14, 2009.

Ko added that the banks had adopted security measures such as the technique of two-factor authentication; it was now necessary to determine if the consumers' PCs were cleared off the viruses, as reported by NewsFactor on July 15, 2009.

HKMA has also suggested that customers should avoid clicking on hyperlinks that appear in online search engines or e-mails for accessing Internet banking site instead they should manually enter the URL address into their Web browser or bookmark the actual banking site. Furthermore, users must ensure that their security software is up-to-date.

The May 2009 MessageLabs Intelligence Report named Hong Kong as the region receiving the highest number of spam, with spam mails in HK rising 2.4% during the month to 92.3%.

Related article: HKMA Warns BEA Account Holders Against phishing E-mails

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