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NatWest offers online banking customers free security services

Bank responds to a surge in cyber crime targeting users of online banking services

NatWest Group is to give all its consumer and business banking customers access to advanced endpoint protection and remediation services from Malwarebytes, under a new partnership deal designed to enhance cyber security for its service users.

Usage of online banking services has spiked during the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic and its associated lockdowns, with a related surge in older people signing up to online banking for the first time, presenting an additional security risk that needs to be managed.

At the same time, incidents of fraud against online banking customers have gone through the roof – recent statistics revealed that £58m was lost to impersonation scams alone in the first six months of 2020.

“Keeping our customers safe and secure is of paramount importance to us,” said Alasdair MacFarlane, head of fraud prevention at NatWest. “We are the only UK bank to offer premium virus protection to our customers for free and are working with Malwarebytes to deliver this.”

Marcin Kleczynski, founder and CEO of Malwarebytes, said: “Providing digital protection, productivity and peace of mind to customers is increasingly critical for companies and consumers as the threat landscape continues to evolve rapidly.

“Malwarebytes has been a champion of security since our inception and we are thrilled to be able to partner with innovative, socially responsible organisations like NatWest Group who are going above and beyond to ensure the safety of their customers.”

NatWest customers will all be able to get a free licence to install Malwarebytes’ Premium service to protect their devices and bank accounts. Personal banking customers will be able to add the service to up to 10 devices, while business customers will be able to add it to up to 30. Users can download the Malwarebytes product from their online banking portal after they have logged in.

Besides NatWest itself, the offer is also being made available to customers of the group’s other retail banking brands – Royal Bank of Scotland, Isle of Man Bank, NatWest International and Ulster Bank.

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The bank said a trial of the service had already demonstrated extremely positive adoption rates, with more than 100,000 customer downloads already. NatWest plans further efforts to increase awareness of the offer throughout its customer base.

The spike in cyber crime affecting online banking customers has led to a number of other initiatives in the financial services sector, such as the recent expansion of a widely-used anti-fraud scheme used in bricks-and-mortar branches to root out potential scams to provide cover for online and phone banking.

Developed by banking sector trade association UK Finance, the Banking Protocol was developed alongside National Trading Standards and the Metropolitan Police in London, and was first rolled out across the UK in 2018. It is designed to support bank staff in spotting the warning signs that suggest a customer is being scammed, and stopped about £19m of potential fraud between January and June 2020.

The protocol’s expansion to cover bank transfers attempted by customers through phone and online banking will give call centre and online staff the ability to step in and notify law enforcement when they have due cause to believe a transaction is the result of a scam.

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