Scotiabank is hoping to raise the comfort level of online customers by becoming a reseller of sorts for an anti-virus software vendor. 

The company said Wednesday it would be offered a discounted version of VirusScan and

Personal Firewall Plus from McAfee Inc. to any of its Scotia Online Internet banking service. The one-year subscription includes automatic updates and can be accessed via a link to ‘Special Security Offers,’ in the ‘Profile and Preferences’ section of its Web site, which will take users to McAfee’s e-commerce site.

Sharon Hodder, Scotiabank’s vice-president of Internet services, said the bank uses McAfee products internally and sees the offer as an extension of its efforts to promote safe computing, which includes research within Scotiabank’s customer base.

“We get responses that indicate they do think security is important,” she said.

Earlier this year, Scotiabank disputed a study by TNS Canadian Facts which indicated online banking was hitting a plateau. Rhonda Grunier, a vice-president at the research firm, said TNS Canadian Facts doesn’t track how many online banking customers already have anti-virus products.

“My sense is their issues are more along security of their financial information rather than their PC getting infected with a virus,” she said.

Though online banking users have been hit with a number of threats, including phishing schemes that use phony e-mail messages from banks to obtain customer information, Hodder said it hasn’t slowed the bank’s momentum. 

“Our activation and usage have continued at their normal rates. We are not seeing an impact,” she said.

Scotia Online users have received phishing e-mails, Hodder admitted, and the bank conducted several investigations which have led it to contact ISPs and have Web sites pulled down.

“These places are often hosted offshore, and there’s time-zone difference, but we still have them taken down within hours of a phishing attack,” she said. “There have been attacks against all major FIs (financial institutions), I should think, in Canada.”

The partnership with McAfee comes the day after the security firm released a report that detailed a range of cybercrime activity across North America. According to the report, 40 per cent of online shoppers and a third of online bankers are starting to rethink their use of such services. 

“Individuals should know no bank would ever contact at them at home via e-mail asking them for information about their account,” said Jimmy Kuo, McAfee Fellow at a briefing on Tuesday.

A French version of VirusScan and Personal Firewall Plus will be available to customers in late July, the two firms said.

— With files from Poonam Khanna

Comment: info@itbusiness.ca

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