Is Online Banking Safe ?

Online banking allows people to undertake traditional banking activities, like account transfers, payment of bills and requests for stopping payments, via the Internet. Customers can also keep tabs on the account balance from the comfort of their home. In this day and age, online banking has become an indispensable facility for people who are hard pressed for time and find it difficult, if not impossible, to reschedule their busy lives for the sake of making a few withdrawals and deposits. However, there are a few issues that have to be borne in mind in order to avoid being cyber scammed.

Is Online Banking Safe - How Safe is Online Banking?

This question often torments the customer who appreciates the facility of online banking but has a few misgivings about online banking security. An online bank account is accessed with the help of a username and a password. On divulging this information to an impostor, the customer ceases to have control over the online account. The username and the password can be obtained by a trickster in one of the following ways:

Phishing: Phishing is the attempt to acquire potentially sensitive information via email, instant messages, cell phones or through fraudulent websites and social networking websites. Generally, a link spoofing the authentic bank website is sent via email, by scammers, to unsuspecting customers forcing the latter to divulge confidential information like username and password.

Malicious Software: Internet address redirection, which results in redirecting customers to a copycat website that closely resembles the original site, occurs when a malicious software has sneaked into the computer. Hackers may also use a malware program such as keylogger, that allows them to monitor the key strokes. The username and the password can thus be obtained surreptitiously.

Weak Wireless Network Security: Most people who access the Internet from their home, are not tech savvy. They may inadvertently allow others to access their wireless network and retrieve confidential information.

Safe Online Banking Practices

Using Virtual Keyboards: Banks provide the option of using the virtual keyboard as a measure to counteract keylogging malware. The customer should always use the virtual keyboard instead of the physical keyboard.

URL Beginning with "https://": The website's URL should begin with "https://" rather than "http://" since the former allows the user to log in by creating a secure channel over an unsecured network.

Safe Access: One should avoid accessing the online bank account from public computers. One should also avoid accessing the account via a public WiFi from one's laptop. Moreover, a home network ensures safe and secured online banking services.

Choosing a Strong Password: A strong password, that is at least 8 characters long and uses a combination of upper and lower case letters, number and symbols, is ideal.

Choosing Security Questions: Most bank sites allow the user to choose security questions and answers in addition to the username and password. One will be forced to answer this question in case one is accessing the account from a different/unrecognized computer. This provides additional security.

Thwarting Phishing: One should avoid logging into one's account via a link that has been received in an incoming email requesting a change of username or password. This may help ward off phishing.

The above measures may help us answer in the affirmative to the question, 'Is online banking safe'. In addition to these measures, one should remember that not all banks operating on the Internet are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). FDIC insured banks guarantee deposits less than $100,000. Many banks, that are chartered overseas, are not FDIC insured. To determine whether a bank is FDIC insured, the customer should visit the FDIC website. 

What is Web 1.0, Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 ? Concepts Explained in Plain English

This slide neatly sums up the main differences between Web 1.0, Web 2.0 and Web 3.0.

Web 1.0 – That Geocities, Hotmail era was all about read-only content and static HTML websites. People preferred navigating the web through link directories of Yahoo! and dmoz.

Web 2.0 – This is about user-generated content and the read-write web. People are consuming as well as contributing information through blogs or sites like Flickr, YouTube, Digg, etc. The line dividing a consumer and content publisher is increasingly getting blurred in the Web 2.0 era.

Web 3.0 – This will be about semantic web (or the meaning of data), personalization (e.g. iGoogle), intelligent search and behavioral advertising among other things. 

Different types of computing --Grid, Cloud, Utility, Distributed and Cluster computing

  • Cloud computing is a computing paradigm shift where computing is moved away from personal computers or an individual application server to a “cloud” of computers. Users of the cloud only need to be concerned with the computing service being asked for, as the underlying details of how it is achieved are hidden. This method of distributed computing is done through pooling all computer resources together and being managed by software rather than a human.
  • The services being requested of a cloud are not limited to using web applications, but can also be IT management tasks such as requesting of systems, a software stack or a specific web appliance.  
  • Multiple independent computing clusters which act like a “grid” because they are composed of resource nodes not located within a single administrative domain. (formal)
  • Offering online computation or storage as a metered commercial service, known as utility computing, computing on demand, or cloud computing.
  • The creation of a “virtual supercomputer” by using spare computing resources within an organization.
  • Conventional Internet hosting services have the capability to quickly arrange for the rental of individual servers, for example to provision a bank of web servers to accommodate a sudden surge in traffic to a web site.
  • “Utility computing” usually envisions some form of virtualization so that the amount of storage or computing power available is considerably larger than that of a single time-sharing computer. Multiple servers are used on the “back end” to make this possible. These might be a dedicated computer cluster specifically built for the purpose of being rented out, or even an under-utilized supercomputer. The technique of running a single calculation on multiple computers is known as distributed computing.
  • A method of computer processing in which different parts of a program are run simultaneously on two or more computers that are communicating with each other over a network. Distributed computing is a type of segmented or parallel computing, but the latter term is most commonly used to refer to processing in which different parts of a program run simultaneously on two or more processors that are part of the same computer. While both types of processing require that a program be segmented—divided into sections that can run simultaneously, distributed computing also requires that the division of the program take into account the different environments on which the different sections of the program will be running. For example, two computers are likely to have different file systems and different hardware components.
  • computer cluster is a group of linked computers, working together closely so that in many respects they form a single computer. The components of a cluster are commonly, but not always, connected to each other through fast local area networks. Clusters are usually deployed to improve performance and/or availability over that provided by a single computer, while typically being much more cost-effective than single computers of comparable speed or availability. 

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

I just came across the transcript of a graduation commencement address that Steve Jobs delivered to the Stanford University class of 2005.  Certain parts of this speech strongly coincide with the underlying message in my previous post.  Beyond that, it provides some exceptional first hand advice from a man who followed his heart and intuition in pursuit of what he loved in life… and he came out on top.  The full commencement address is definitely worth a quick read.  Here are a couple excerpts that initially caught my attention:

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything, all external expectations, all pride, all fear of  embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.”