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Internet banks ignoring security, says report

Security less important to e-commerce firms than last year -- business worries have taken over
Written by Will Knight, Contributor

Internet banks and e-commerce firms care more about the competition than Internet security according to a survey released by IT consultant firm Cap Gemini Ernst & Young last week.

Worryingly, e-commerce firms are less concerned about security than a few years ago. While security ranked as the biggest fear for online commerce firms in the same survey for 1997 and 1998, the 1999 figures show that this has been pushed into second place by business worries. Thirty six percent of companies questioned said that the biggest concern was getting solutions to market quickly and holding on to customers, while just 19 percent said security was their main focus.

"Financial services companies are under intense pressure to produce an e-commerce offer as quickly as possible and there is a danger that many are compromising the quality they offer," says Jonathan Charley, vice president of financial services at Cap Gemini Ernst & Young.

The increasingly competitive nature of the online financial market and the pressure this causes could help explain the frequency of recent security incidents at e-commerce firms. In July Powergen accidentally exposed thousands of customers' credit card details and was forced to ask customers to cancel their cards. Accounts were also left exposed at Barclays following a bizarre security accident in August. Last month the HSBC bank had its Web site defaced, causing damage to its public and corporate image.

Lax security at Internet banks is having a negative impact on attracting new users according to Charley and he believes companies need to get the balance between business needs and customer security right. "Given the benefits that the bank themselves will realise, it seems unusual that this opportunity is being missed."

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