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Alleged Theft at Citibank Underscores Worries Over Online Bank Robberies

12/23/2009 - The Wall Street Journalstands by its report yesterday that  the FBI is investigating a cybertheft last summer or earlier where hackers stole tens of millions of dollars electronically from Citibank.

The bank has vigorously denied such reports and in a statementassured its customers their money is safe.

We take the security of our customers’ accounts and systems seriously. We continuously take steps to protect our customers against fraud, and we have state-of-the-art processes to detect and prevent criminal activity.

Whether or not the Journal'sinitial reportwas true, the consensus on bank security in a digital age is worrisome.

According to the Associated Press:

Internet attacks on banks are common, said Tom Kellermann, a former senior member of the World Bank’s Treasury security team and now vice president of security awareness for Core Security Technologies.He said large financial institutions are “consistently targeted’’ and are “hemorrhaging funds.’’

Or as the Journal writes:

Experts said financial institutions are grappling with increasingly frequent attempts to pierce their technological defenses, often by hackers with ties to organized crime rings in Eastern Europe.

Such attacks can occur through breaches of internal bank systems; by accessing data through outside firms that process transactions for financial firms; or by infecting customers' computers to gain access to bank systems when customers log on to bank Web sites.

Which only goes to sure that modern-day John Dilingers don't rob banks with Tommy guns and a note to the teller; they rob them quietly with software programs.

♦ Photo of Citibank in San Francisco by kiwanja/Flickr