I've been banking online since I had to connect with my bank via a modem connection, so I really like it a lot. I'm not the only one. According to the Pew Internet and American Life September 2007 survey on online shopping, 53% of all online users use online banking, or 39% of all adult Americans. But, no less a person than the head of the FBI recently stopped because he was worried about his security.
Wow. FBI Director Robert Mueller said that he recently gave up on online banking when he recently came "just a few clicks away from falling into a classic Internet phishing scam" after receiving an e-mail that looked like it was from his bank. "It looked pretty legitimate," Mueller said. "They had mimicked the e-mails that the bank would ordinarily send out to its customers; they'd mimicked them very well."
This is scary stuff. Phishing e-mails are common, but most them aren't that well done. The idea that one can come close enough to fooling the head of the FBI makes me really stop and think about this.
Let's make this a security commandant for the 21st century. Never, ever, click on an e-mail link from a message telling you that your bank or credit-card account is in trouble and that you need to login to fix some problem or update your account. I don't care how good it looks, these days you can't afford to trust it.
On top of that, let's say you are absolutely sure that it's safe to follow a link and the site looks right, you may still be mistaken. Don't be so sure that just because a Web page looks like your bank's Web page that it really is legitimate. Trap-door spider Web sites, like some of the baddies that claim that they're there to deliver anti-virus software to you are getting to be commonplace.
Do I sound paranoid? Well, is it paranoia when they really are out to get you? I don't think so.
I'd rather be extra-careful with any financial services Web site than take a chance. After all, the director of the FBI has taken it one step further: He's actually quit using them. Think about it.