Can online banking ever be really safe?
25th July 2013
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Online banking saves so much time and money that it's become a "must-have" for busy people.  Yet I still encounter lots of people, many of whom have trouble getting out of the house, who just won't consider it.  They've decided that their money just wouldn't be safe if they so much as looked at their accounts online.

Given the media coverage that's dedicated to the horror stories, that's not really surprising.  And while a poorly secured computer is as bad as an unlocked door, there is, believe it or not, a way to use a computer to access your bank account that cannot be compromised by any virus or malicious program, even if you have managed to allow such a thing access to your computer.

How?  I'm tempted to say it's simple, though I appreciate that it might sound complicated to the non-technical.  In short, you don't use all of your computer.  You leave your hard drive completely out of the equation, so whatever infections you have cannot possibly do any damage, because they won't be loaded up when you start the machine.  You achieve this desirable effect by getting hold of a copy of an operating system other than Windows, which will run directly from a CD.  When the system is started up using this system CD, no programs on your main windows disk can run (except in completely exceptional circumstances that you'd have to work very hard to make happen).  Because you can't add anything to the CD, it's impossible to get it infected with a virus.  All you have to do is ensure you get it from a reputable source.

This other system is called Linux, and it comes complete with many tools, including the one you need, which is a web browser.  The browser is usually called Firefox, and it will happily access any online banking system just like it would under Windows - better yet, it will look so familiar that you'll have no trouble using it.

Naturally, all the security that the banks put in place to encrypt your information during transmission remains effective.  I would argue that online banking using a computer booted up with a reputable Linux CD is safer than walking to the bank, when a baddy could kidnap you and your bank card and force you to reveal your PIN.  Get in touch if you'd like a CD and a quick demonstration of how to use it.

By Graham Skeats of Computer Therapy

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About the Author

Graham S

Member since: 22nd April 2010

Born in Cardiff, first laid hands on a computer keyboard in 1974, Graham has a degree in Maths from Manchester University and has subsequently become a Chartered IT Professional. He's worked at all levels...

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