HSBC is suffering thousands of virus attacks a day.
The National Hi-Tech Crime Unit said on Monday that companies receive an average of seven viruses a day. Speaking at the e-Crime Congress in London, HSBC's group chief operating officer Alan Jebson admitted that the bank was often receiving tens of thousands times that figure.
"I was interested to hear it was seven attacks a day," Jebson said. "On our worst day last year we had 100,000 attacks."
HSBC holds over a trillion dollars in assets, which makes it a tempting target for virus writers and hackers. But email identity theft scams are posing a greater threat to the bank's 18.9m online customers, Jebson said.
"We are naturally very concerned about anything that would damage online banking," said Jebson. "Customers will only do business online if they are convinced it is secure. Customers are no longer sure whether emails from financial institutions are genuine."
"There is evidence that frauds are damaging consumer confidence," he added. "Research has shown that the take up of [e-commerce] is slowing."
Jebson emphasised that banks and customers need to co-operate in their efforts to thwart scammers. He said that HSBC was co-operating with the likes of Citibank to share information on security, and the bank is even considering the use of biometrics in three-factor authentication — where a user would need to supply three different pieces of information proving their identity.
"The harder we make it for criminals to access accounts, the harder we make it for the public. But this is a game we cannot afford to lose," said Jebson.