Washington Post: ‘Don’t use Microsoft Windows when accessing your bank account online’

“An investigative series I’ve been writing about organized cyber crime gangs stealing millions of dollars from small to mid-sized businesses has generated more than a few responses from business owners who were concerned about how best to protect themselves from this type of fraud,” Brian Krebs reports for The Washington Post.

Krebs reports, “The simplest, most cost-effective answer I know of? Don’t use Microsoft Windows when accessing your bank account online.”

“In direct response to this series reported and published by Security Fix, the SANS Technology Institute, a security research and education organization, challenged its students with creating a white paper to determine the most effective methods for small and mid-sized businesses to mitigate the threat from these types of attacks. Their conclusion? While there are multiple layers that of protection that businesses and banks could put in place, the cheapest and most foolproof solution is to use a read-only, bootable operating system, such as Knoppix, or Ubuntu,” Krebs reports. “Also known as ‘Live CDs,’ these are generally free, Linux-based operating systems that one can download and burn to a CD-ROM.”

Krebs reports, “Of course, a Mac computer would probably work just as well, but the focus here is on Windows users who may be looking for a cheap way to harden their existing setup to avoid malicious software.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The Microsoft Tax strikes again. And, oh, by the way, a Mac would work better, because you’d be able to do so much more than just safely bank online.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Tommy Boy” for the heads up.]

25 Comments

  1. Even if you use all of those precautions on Windows, or have a Mac, there is still the possible that key logging software has been installed on your computer by a significant other, your employer or law enforcement, and there is at least one OS X version as well.

    My point isn’t directly related to the points mentioned in the article, but the truly paranoid should take note.

  2. May be Apple should take a hint from this and start providing Apple MacOS ROM, like they use to in original MacOS. Minor upgrades will be soft, like original Mac, but major upgrade will be ROM replacement (I think original Mac did this too, Mac, FatMac and MacPlus ROMs).

  3. Don’t forget Krebs is an Apple hater, remember that whole Black Hat wifi card hack a couple years ago that wasn’t documentable, by those two hackers? Yeah, Krebs was their witness.

  4. I love the post that says:

    Nice article Brian.

    I had to chuckle that you rule out using Apple products because spending $1300 for a computer is too expensive a fix to losing $100K or more. My mom would have called that penny-wise and pound-foolish.

  5. @84 Mac Guy
    “It is not a Microsoft tax. A tax is something collected by government. Microsoft’s tariff is more like something the mafia collects from local store owners.”

    Well, OK, technically, only governments levee taxes. I think the idea in the metaphor is about the inevitableness of it and that you can’t get away from it (like death and taxes).

    If you live in the evil empire of Windows Land, you pay the tax levied by Emperor Ballmer. There is a hidden cost to anything you do and it all comes back to lining the pockets of the empire.

  6. @s

    Mac OS has never been in ROM; it has always been on disk. I’ve been a mac user since 1984; booting off floppies was painfully slow.

    Further, most systems today use flash RAM for firmware updates so that they can be updated with a download.

    Replacing ROMs would be a pain beyond imagination.

  7. @84 Mac Guy

    “It is not a Microsoft tax. A tax is something collected by government. Microsoft’s tariff is more like something the mafia collects from local store owners.”

    Actually, since anyone who buys Windows has effective sold (prostituted) themselves, it’s more like a pimp fee.

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