BofA Steps up Authenticity Plan

Bank of America moved quickly to restore its reputation this week,
announcing a new online authentication service it says will help prevent
online fraud and identity theft. The announcement comes only days after acknowledging a recent
breach had been more severe than previously suspected.

The bank says its 13.2 million online banking customers will now have
access to SiteKey, a new protection service designed to reduce incidences of
fraud and identity theft.

“SiteKey helps you know it’s us and we know it’s you,” Sanjay Gupta,
e-Commerce executive with Bank of America, said in a statement. “It’s a
free, personalized partnership that builds trust and security.”

Bank of America, which claims the most online banking customers in the
country, is the first major financial services company to provide this extra
level of security.

The announcement comes two days after bank officials confirmed that
information on about 60,000 customers has been stolen by a data-theft ring.
The New Jersey-based thieves are believed to be at the center of the largest
U.S. banking security breach in history.

The company has said there is no evidence that pointed to lost customer
data being used for account fraud or identity theft. Bank customers were
informed that they would not be responsible for any unauthorized charges
and were offered a free one-year subscription to a credit monitoring
service.

Bank of America, like many who trade in the information business, has had
a rough year protecting personal information. In March, the
bank lost tapes housing the personal information of
1.2 million government employees.

The latest service provides more ways for the bank to confirm a
customer’s identity, while giving customers a new way to confirm that the
bank Web site they visit is legitimate, according to the company.

SiteKey, developed in collaboration with Redwood City, Calif.-based
security software vendor PassMark Security, has a simple system that has
customers selecting an image, writing a brief phrase and choosing three
challenge questions. The customer and the bank can pass that information
securely back and forth to confirm each other’s identity, according to the
bank.

Online banking from Bank of America was rated No. 1 from at least one
research firm, Javelin Strategy & Research, even before SiteKey.

Using online banking can reduce the chances of identity theft and fraud,
according to a Javelin report issued in January.

The service will launch in Tennessee in mid-June and roll out across the
country by the end of the year.

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