Cyber Crime_Is your business at risk?

Screen-scraping involves copying data from screen in one software product and importing it into another. It has been on the rise with the growth of online accounting software. Yet, while it’s convenient, it’s also putting business owner’s sensitive financial information at risk.

Why you should be concerned
In the accounting world, screen-scraping normally involves third party taking copy (or ‘screen-scrape’) of your transactions from your internet banking account. To do so, you need to disclose your login and password details to the third party. They then log into your account to copy your transactions, which are automatically imported into your accounting software.
While there’s no argument that this makes things more convenient, there are serious implications.
Providing login and password details to third party breaches the terms and conditions of most internet banking agreements. For example, in December 2012:
• BNZ said that: “Providing log-in details to third party presents very serious security risks and contradicts both the New Zealand Code of Banking Practice and our terms and conditions.”
• While, ANZ reminded its customers: “If you disclose your internet banking log on details it could result in other parties doing transactions on your account that you haven’t authorised.”
Most business owners may not be aware their bank transactions are being supplied in this way, or of the potential consequences.
These consequences can be severe. By breaching their terms and conditions, the bank will likely disclaim liability for any account fraud which may occur – even if that fraud is ‘not’ related to screen-scraping.
To the best of our knowledge none of the parties that provide accounting screen-scraping services have ever lost login and password details, or had them stolen. However, you can be absolutely certain that they are an attractive target for cyber criminals.

Frustrations and duplications
There are several other important reasons to steer clear of screen-scraping.
Duplicated transactions can happen when the screen-scraper does not recognise that it has already copied data and copies it again. Delays can occur when the bank makes changes to their internet banking system – as screen-scraping is done without the support of the banks, this can cause the screen-scraping service to be out of action for some time.
The quality of the service can also be limited. Most internet banking systems are secondary systems. This means that what’s showing in your internet banking does not always contain the full range of transaction information.

The safest approach
Having your transactions automatically integrated into your accounting software is real time saver. But there’s much safer alternative – using direct feed authorised by your bank.
BankLink pioneered this process over 25 years ago and we work with over 120 banks and financial institutions and are used by over 300,000 businesses.
We source permission directly from you, your bank and your accountant before supplying your transactions as read-only copy. We don’t bury how we work within any fine print agreement – you sign one page document which is lodged with your bank. Most importantly, we will never need your internet banking account login and password.
We believe this is the safest – and most ethical – way of operating, while still providing all the same benefits.

Don’t let your business be exposed
I’d urge all business owners to avoid screen-scraping. If you’re not sure about how your bank transactions are currently being supplied, talk to your accountant. If it’s via screen-scraping service, carefully consider the consequences. It’s simply not worth the risk.

• To learn more about BankLink, speak to your accountant or visit www.banklink.co.nz/business.

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