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Posted: 1:19 p.m. Monday, June 18, 2012

Automated viruses plague online banking

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Listen to The Clark Howard Show and visit ClarkHoward.com for more privacy tips.

By Clark Howard


RIP-OFF ALERT: Newly sophisticated Trojan horse viruses developed in Europe are expected to pose a threat to anyone who does online banking here in the United States.

Criminal rings out of Eastern Europe are bringing a new level of threat to web users who encounter the common SpyEye and Zeus viruses.

According to what I read in The Chicago Tribune, both viruses have been automated so that a criminal can breach your computer, get your information and then log into a bank or brokerage account to have money wired overseas -- almost without having to lift a finger!

This is currently a fast growing crime in Europe, and they're noted over there for having much more robust digital banking security in place than we do in America. So there's almost no doubt this new breed of automated virus will make its way to our shores.

Here's my advice to protect yourself:

  • Use an antivirus program and keep it up to date. I have a list of free programs in my Virus, Spyware and Malware Protection Guide.
  • If you're a business owner, you must have a dedicated computer that's only used for financial transactions.

    Take special note of that last bullet point. If you're an individual and your computer is breached, you have protections under the law and your money must be restored to you. But that's not the case if you're a business owner. That's why entrepreneurs need to follow my advice carefully.

    Meanwhile, a new analysis of web traffic for 75 million people shows that Internet search results are being tainted more and more by con artists. These crooks are manipulating search results and instantly loading viruses on your computer when you click on their bogus links.

    As USA Today  reports, "As a rule, it is wise to avoid clicking on links that include '.ru' (Russia) or '.cn' (China) in the address line, since attacks often originate from those nations."

    Apparently, tainted search results have now surpassed email as the main gateway for crooks who want to hack your computer! Be careful out there.

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