Though all UK banks provide online
security, the level of security offered varies considerably from
bank to bank reveals a study by consumer affairs group Which?.
Significantly, among 10 banks assessed only one, Barclays achieved
an “excellent” rating.
Key to Barclays’ rating is PINSentry, a two-factor security device
produced by Gemalto and introduced by Barclays in 2007.
“The PINSentry device makes any vulnerabilities moot, since you
need your bank card with the PINSentry and your PIN in order to log
in,” commented Which?’s security expert.
“At Barclays, we have pushed ahead with pioneering anti-fraud
initiatives over the past two years to provide our 3 million online
banking customers with increased security/site protection,”
commented a Barclays spokesperson.
Other banks did not fare as well with two, Halifax and Abbey, rated
“poor” for online security.
Summing up Halifax and Abbey’s security, Which? noted that both
fell below the standard users should expect. In particular,
authentication could be bypassed if a user’s computer were infected
by a keylogger, while there are no additional controls to prevent
criminals transferring money from a customer’s account.
Responding, a Halifax spokesperson said: “Across all of our
internet businesses we work with the leading experts worldwide on
security to ensure that our customers are fully protected. The vast
majority of our fraud defence is not visible to customers.”
For its part an Abbey spokesperson said: “We treat customers’
security and their data with the highest priority. We constantly
review and update our customer security processes with this in
Of the other seven banks, five were rated “good” for their online
security. They are First Direct, Lloyds TSB, Nationwide, Natwest
and Royal Bank of Scotland which were all assessed by Which? as
having online security measures that are sufficient to adequately
protect users from fraudsters.
The remaining two banks, HSBC and Alliance & Leicester, were
rated “average” for their online security with both providing only
“basic” protection with “room for improvement.”