McAfee Releases Online Banking Safety Guide for the 47 Percent of Consumers Who Are Underprotected

New Guide Cites Top Industry Research, Identifies Three Virtual Banking "Personality Types," and Offers Tips for Safer Online Transacting

SANTA CLARA, CALIF., – August 03, 2011 – Acting on recent data that reveals many consumers still aren’t protected by even basic antivirus software when banking online, McAfee today released an educational guide for banking safely on computers, tablets or mobile devices. According to Javelin Strategy & Research, in 2010 47 percent of household financial managers did not have antivirus software installed.

Combining McAfee intelligence with the latest U.S. banking data from many top sources revealed that most consumers fall into one of three categories of online banking behavior, and that age tends to play a strong role in safety and security habits online. Most people’s level of confidence with banking online is associated with their overall comfort level online, including participating in such activities as shopping, searching, and social networking.

McAfee identified three main personality types associated with online and mobile banking, and offers customized tips for each group in its safe online banking guide:

1. ‘Competent, But A Little Careless’ Ages 18-24: This group is the most comfortable with technology but they tend to be overconfident, neglecting to put even basic security practices into place. As a result, this group leaves themselves vulnerable to banking malware. Sixty-eight percent do not even have basic antivirus software installed on their computers, according to Javelin Strategy & Research.

Tips for ‘Competent, But A Little Careless’ bankers:

  • Start with a clean PC. This means making sure that your device is clean of threats by using a free diagnostic tool such as McAfee® Security Scan Plus, which scans and detects malware, Trojans, and potentially unwanted programs in running processes.

  • Buy comprehensive security software that protects you from viruses, spyware, adware, and identity theft. Always choose a reputable brand such as McAfee Total Protection™ software. When it comes to security software, free is not better. A September 2010 USA TODAY survey of 16 anti-virus companies shows that no-cost anti-virus programs generally lack important features such as a firewall, website health checks, and automatic updates.

  • Avoid distracted banking: Be careful not to respond to fake bank emails (or phishing attacks) because you are multitasking. Remember, banking fraud often happens because consumers give out their own user names and passwords to fake banking sites.

2. ‘Confident But Casual’ Ages 25-45: This group uses the Internet for both work and personal reasons and are the most frequent online banking users. According to Javelin, they tend to be more likely to have antivirus software installed, with 42 percent of 25-34 year-olds and 47 percent of 35-44 year-olds using it. However, according to an August 2010 NCSA/APWG Survey, this group tends to be casual or over-confident about security, with 52 percent of 25-44 year-olds feeling as if they are already doing enough to stay safe online.

Tips for ‘Confident But Casual’ bankers:

  • If you don't have online security protection already, you need a comprehensive security suite that protects you and your family’s banking integrity. Also, remember to run a security scan before signing up for any online banking services to ensure you're starting with a computer free of malware.

  • Never respond to unsolicited email from a bank that requests personal information, such as your user name, password, or address. Even if the email looks legitimate, NEVER reply, click on links or open attachments included in the email.

  • Review your financial statements and transactions as soon as they arrive, so if there are any anomalies or unauthorized transactions you can clear them up right away.

3. ‘Conservative And Cautious’ Over 45 Years Old: This group is not as familiar with technology as younger generations, and a smaller percentage use online banking. Javelin found that they tend to be more cautious when going online, and as a result, they are better protected than the younger group, with approximately 55 percent having security software installed. This group should continue to be cautious about offline banking scams in general; research shows that some older Americans are vulnerable to automated voice messages that request financial account numbers.

Tips for ‘Conservative And Cautious’ bankers:

  • Be sure to run a security scan on your PC before you sign up for any online banking services to ensure you're starting with a computer free of malware.

  • Beware of copycat sites that look very similar to major banking institutions, and always be sure that you've typed in the correct web address when visiting your bank online. Be familiar with your bank's logo and site design.

  • Create strong passphrases. Don't be afraid to go beyond the standard eight characters and a couple of numbers - the longer, the better, and change your passphrases often.

Mobile Banking
According to Forrester Research in its January 2011 U.S. Mobile Banking Forecast, mobile banking has experienced rapid growth in the U.S. over the past three years, more than doubling from five percent of online adults in 2007 to 12 percent by the second quarter of 2010. Furthermore, Forrester predicts that one in five–or 50 million–U.S. adults will be using mobile banking by 2015. It is important to remember that while banking via mobile devices is very convenient, it is still important to exercise caution.

Tips for Banking Safely Online – Using Mobile Devices

As both threats and technology evolve, there are more ways than ever that financial information can be compromised, from offline methods such as dumpster diving and stolen laptops to online methods including email scams, mobile hacking, fake banking sites known as phishing scams, and data breaches like the one Sony recently experienced with PlayStation.

Despite the dangers, consumers continue to embrace the anytime, anywhere convenience of online banking, but they aren’t necessarily being safe. Javelin research reveals that 68 percent of 18 – 24 year olds do not have basic antivirus software on their computers. Additionally, Javelin found that 47 percent of 45 to 54-years-olds lack security protection, and 44 percent of 55 to 64-year-olds lack protection.

With that in mind, McAfee is redoubling its efforts to offer consumers the very best practical information on online banking safety, whether they are banking from their computer or mobile devices.

“Most instances of banking fraud are not due to the bank’s technology being compromised,” said Dave Marcus, director of security research for McAfee Labs. “It’s more likely that people are unwittingly giving out their personal banking information to criminals via phishing scams and copycat sites, or their computers being infected with malware.”

Online Banking Safety Guide, Graphics and Video
For complete details on each of the online banking personality types and accompanying graphics, please visit the McAfee blog:

For an animated tutorial on phishing, one of the greatest banking-related dangers for consumers according to McAfee researchers, please visit the following link. Find out what phishing is, how to spot fake emails, and how to avoid it all together:

Other Resources

About McAfee
McAfee, a wholly owned subsidiary of Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC), is the world's largest dedicated security technology company. McAfee delivers proactive and proven solutions and services that help secure systems, networks, and mobile devices around the world, allowing users to safely connect to the Internet, browse and shop the Web more securely. Backed by its unrivaled Global Threat Intelligence, McAfee creates innovative products that empower home users, businesses, the public sector and service providers by enabling them to prove compliance with regulations, protect data, prevent disruptions, identify vulnerabilities, and continuously monitor and improve their security. McAfee is relentlessly focused on constantly finding new ways to keep our customers safe.

Kim Eichorn, (408) 346-3606
H3O Communications
Jennifer Smith, (415) 618-8802