Read on for "The Ubuntu Option" for increased online banking security. Jay McLaughlin has me worried. I do my online banking from the same home computer the rest of the family uses for Web surfing and online games. I have the McAfee security suite loaded and do regular scans so accessing online banking should be protected. Right?
Not really, says McLaughlin, a Certified Information Security Professional and CIO of CNL Bank. Accessing online banking from your everyday PC is just asking for trouble, he says.

In fact, the CIO of the St. Mary, Florida-based regional bank would like to see all of his customers - both consumers and businesses - access online banking either from a dedicated machine or from a self-booting CD-ROM running Ubuntu Linux and Firefox.

The Ubuntu option

Recognizing that most consumers don't want to buy a separate computer for online banking, CNL is seriously considering making available free Ubuntu Linux bootable "live CD" discs in its branches and by mail. The discs would boot up Linux, run Firefox and be configured to go directly to CNL Bank's Web site. "Everything you need to do will be sandboxed within that CD," he says. That should protect customers from increasingly common drive-by downloads and other vectors for malicious code that may infect and lurk on PCs, waiting to steal the user account names, passwords and challenge questions normally required to access online banking.

A bootable CD works because it's isolated from the host PC environment. Malware on the host can't touch it - and any malware picked up when running from the CD-ROM goes away once the CD is ejected. "When you eject the CD you have removed everything off the machine," McLaughlin says.

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