Jamie Davis, Education and Product Manager

Isn’t technology great? As with most advancements in society, technology is a double-edged sword. Some will tell you that the Internet, computers, servers, etc. provide tools that no other generation in human history has ever had. There are others that will tell you of the headaches in managing technology, keeping it running, and keeping it safe. Whether we like it or not, we are the guinea pigs for future generations when it comes to conceptualizing and testing new technology ideas. Future generations will research and study our mistakes in an attempt to learn from them, and to improve. Whether we are talking about the process to invent the light bulb or the colonization of the Americas, trial and error is the only way to improve. So congratulations, you are the trial and your errors/our errors will be the case study going forward. In the financial service arena, the push is to get your hands into your customers’ finances as much as possible to assist them while also making it difficult for them to leave. Many of you now offer online banking, bill pay, transfers, balance checks, along with remote deposit, and other services based on technology and the Internet. These services are great for “creating stickiness” with your customers and are often demanded at this point. The other side of the coin is these services can be costly, difficult to manage, and can open your institution up to reputation and compliance risk.

To protect your institution, safeguards need to be put in place. Some safeguards, like dual factor authentication for your online banking website, are required. Some safeguards are not required, but could help limit the reputation risks associated with these services. Every person who has a home computer should run Windows Update regularly and have antivirus software installed. Windows Update can be set to automatically install new updates. Some antivirus solutions offer a free version for home use. AVG and avast! offer free antivirus products for home computers. You may also recommend that your customers enable their Windows firewall option. When a customer signs up for online banking, providing a pamphlet with information on how to turn on Windows automatic updates, where to find an antivirus solution, and other best practices could be beneficial. Not only does this show concern for your customers, but it also provides them with some great security tips that could keep them safe while using your site and others. Keeping in contact with these customers through a quarterly newsletter or email might be another great way of keeping them informed of the latest scams and ways to protect themselves.

Another idea I’ve seen implemented is to have a training kiosk within your institution. This way, when customers sign up for online banking, they can be trained on accessing your website, best practices, and do’s/don’ts. During this time, the customer can learn where to enable Windows Update and firewall along with where to find a good antivirus software. This hopefully limits any questions the user might have later on when they are trying to use the website from their home PC.

Will these ideas cost you anything to implement? Probably. Are your competitors currently offering something similar? Possibly. Will your customers see the benefits? Hopefully. To protect the interest of your institution and your institution’s customers, training your customers could be an invaluable asset. All the training and pamphlets in the world cannot prevent an incident from occurring. What it can do, is decrease the likelihood of an occurrence. Besides, wouldn’t it be nice if your customers wanted to work with you during an incident instead of blaming you? It has to start with letting them know you are standing side-by-side as social guinea pigs in this brave new technological world.

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