Online banking cannot deliver both convenience and security

Online banking cannot deliver both convenience and security

Convenience or "mafia proof" - which do you prefer?

Online banking cannot deliver both convenience and security, according to Telstra and Australia’s banks.

At the AIIA Mobility Innovation in Financial Services event, representatives from Telstra, banks and insurance sector discussed the proliferation of mobile devices and what it means for delivery and banking services.

Internet banking through smartphones is increasing and banks are striving to make these services simpler to cater for these devices.

“As bankers, we have to re-think how to make it easy for our customers so they can just turn [their devices] on and see their account balance rather than having to go through a whole lot of other steps,” Commonwealth Bank online banking general manager, Drew Unsworth, said.

But making remote banking easier doesn’t help the issue of security.

“It’s a trade-off between security and convenience,” Telstra CTO, Dr Hugh Bradlow, said. “You have a spectrum and you chose where you are; you can’t get both together.

“A device that can give you security doesn’t make it more convenient.”

One of the biggest inhibitors of people signing up to online banking is reservations over security, according to National Australian Bank (NAB) online banking general manager, Chris Smith.

Authentication measures, while adding extra steps to online banking, will play a key part in alleviating such fears, he said. Through SMS and, to a lesser extent, biometrics, mobile phones are fast becoming a fundamental part of two-factor authentication for banks.

While customers may prefer just a biometric style authentication method alone, such as NAB’s telephone voice biometrics service, Bradlow doubted the reliability of the technology.

“Everybody has in mind this Holy Grail of being able to do a single-factor biomentric authentication,” he said. “That is not going to happen real soon because just about every biometric system is relatively repeatable fairly easily.”

Bradlow recounted how his Telstra team overcame a purportedly effective biometrics system to highlight his point.

“We got one of those fingerprint scanners that was supposed to be Russian Mafia-proof, that is, if somebody cuts off your thumb, it’s not supposed to work,” he said. “My guys defeated it using $2 work of equipment to successfully lift a fingerprint off a glass and use it.

“Multifactor authentication is not going to go away so there really is a trade-off between convenience and security.”

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Tags mobile securitybanking

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