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Bank, Credit Union customers warned:

Beware of Trojan horses stealing financial info

Increased used of computer banking, both for banks and for customers of the Weyburn Credit Union, has led to an increased risk of infiltration and theft of personal banking information by computer hackers, with some developing Trojan horses that give hackers the ability to use or control a computer remotely to gain personal information.While it is difficult to provide an exact number of incidents or what amounts of money are involved, there have been examples of this type of infiltration to local computer users, prompting warnings to consumers to take caution and to use Internet security measures to protect themselves.Weve had people who have had money go missing from their accounts, said Insp. Russ Chartrand of the Weyburn Police Service. The key is dont give your personal information out by phone or on-line.Hackers use Trojan horses that infect a computer with a key logging application, giving them the ability to access a computer remotely and perform various operations, said Mel Hoffman of the Weyburn Credit Union.Recent examples of fraudulent activity include account access with the use of a valid login and access code, and then setting up a bill payment to a non-traceable credit card where the fraudster can use the credit balance to obtain cash advances or purchase goods, he explained.Hoffman noted that banks and credit unions across the country spend millions of dollars to ensure the security of customer information and bank accounts.In-branch security measures and several layers of on-line encryption are constantly updated and improved to ensure safety. What financial service providers cant protect against are infected systems used by individuals to access account information, he said.Some of the operations that can be performed by a hacker include data theft, such as of passwords or credit card information; downloading or uploading of files; modification or deletion of files; keystroke logging; viewing the users screen; and crashing the computer.Trojan horses differ from a virus in that only a file specifically designed to carry it can do so, and they can be installed through software downloads, such as those downloaded from a file-sharing network. They can also be installed through websites containing executable content, through e-mail attachments, or application exploits, such as through flaws in a web browser or media player or other software that can be exploited.Internet providers like SaskTel have filter systems in place to scan out viruses that come through e-mails, but even with these provisions available, Internet users are urged to always use caution.If youre going to a website you dont know very well and they ask you for personal information, you shouldnt do it. Being aware of what youre doing is important, said Andy Tate, media relations manager for SaskTel.There are certain common sense things you need to be aware of, he added, saying of Trojan horses, Its unfortunate but there is not much we can do about those things. You have to be careful, and protect yourself by knowing what youre doing on the Internet, such as knowing who the e-mail is from. If there are attachments and you dont know what it is, dont click on it.For the Credit Unions part, Hoffman said they are working on an improvement at the log-in stage, and members who use the service will be notified once those changes are made.In the meantime, Hoffman advised, Be alert and vigilant; check your accounts often and report suspicious activity to your bank or credit union immediately.

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