February 24, 2014

With public awareness of cyber security threats on the rise, HSBC will begin offering two-factor authentication for online banking next quarter, says LuAnne Kingston, HSBC’s head of direct banking. The HSBC Security Device, available both as a small hardware device and as a mobile app download, will give online banking customers a unique code they will enter each time they log in.

“The [online authentication] credentials that many companies are using now can easily be defeated by fraudsters,” Kingston notes. “This is why we’re taking a multi-layered approach.”

Recent headlines around major data breaches have generated greater public interest in online security, changing the way customers view security versus convenience in their online transactions, Kingston adds.

[For More on Recent Security News: Breaking Down the Impact of the Target Breach]

“There is a lot of awareness now in the public [about cyber security]… and I think customers are more willing now to give up some convenience for security. And for some customers who may be worried about security, this [two-factor authentication] will help them feel more safe online,” she explains.

The HSBC Security device will provide additional protection for customers, but it is also increasingly important for customers to educate themselves and participate in securing their online identity and activities, Kingston says. She describes online security as a partnership between the customer and the bank, and says that HSBC provides a a number of free educational resources concerning cyber security on its website. The bank also has call center agents that can answer customers’ inquiries about security-related topics and provides free downloads of Trusteer’s anti-malware program on its website, Kingston reports.

HSBC has also provided additional info on its website about the HSBC Security Device for its customers, Kingston adds. “We’ve launched the security device in other countries, and we know customers are interested in this and will adopt this… this is an important step for us in trying to stay one step ahead [of fraudsters].”

Jonathan Camhi is a graduate of the City University of New York's Graduate School of Journalism, where he focused on international reporting and interned at the Hindustan Times in Delhi, ...