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Conducting safer online business banking

The advent of internet banking is transforming the operations of small businesses. For small and medium-sized enterprises with stretched resources, the ability to manage their financial affairs at any time of day or night without having to leave the office is invaluable.

Today, HSBC has 800,000 active business internet banking customers around the world, up 24% from last year and that is continuing to grow.

For the business customer, internet banking offers a wide range of banking services, including account balance and transaction history enquiry, local and overseas payments, payroll autoPay, bill payments, trade services, securities trading, loan applications, insurance quote and applications, account opening, credit card application and more.

While online banking provides customers with convenience and efficiency with its 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week service, it also comes with security risks associated with the internet. But like any other business risk, this risk can also be managed provided businesses put good office practices into place to fortify the security that their banks build into these systems. This can include:

  • Access control with transaction limits − Keep your computer and access to the internet banking system secure. From day one, put in place controls on access to the internet banking system with appropriate transaction limits for individuals.

  • Individual log-in details − Make sure each person who is authorised to use the system has separate log-in details and that they are kept confidential. If there are more users than log-ins, employees will end up sharing, which will compromise security. Remind each user to log out of their own accounts when they are finished.

  • Secure passwords − Similarly, each user should choose a secure password. Advise users to avoid using real words or personal information as part of their password. Also, users should avoid the “Remember my password option” if prompted by

their computer, and change their passwords regularly, at least once every three months.

  • Strong firewall – Computer firewalls block unauthorised access to the computer from the internet by hackers who are attempting to download information from your computer. To protect your systems from external attacks, apart from putting in place a strong firewall, security software updates should be applied promptly and the system should be scanned for viruses and spyware regularly.

  • Awareness of “phishing” scams – Remind your employees to reject any emails that ask one to follow a link to website and input account details for verification. Your bank will never send you an e-mail asking you to confirm your details, and you should never respond to an unsolicited e-mail claiming to be from your bank. However, it is helpful if you advise your bank when you receive these kinds of emails so other customers can be warned.

All in all, internet banking is a valuable, efficient and convenient tool for doing business as long as it is used in a safe and secure way.

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