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Banking On Security

While waiting for Madison Ave. to make authentication sexy, banks have a bigger problem with security consciousness in their business units

12:45 PM -- Picture this ad for your bank: "Multi-factor authentication keeps your identity safe at (Financial Institution Name Here)."

Okay, so Madison Avenue will obviously come up with a much smoother ad slogan for safer online banking, but you get the point. This could be the next generation of marketing for banks, much like Citi's raucous TV commercials for identity-theft prevention (Valley Girl voiceover on couch potato identity-theft victim Jake B.) with its credit cards.

Banks are starting to look for ways to convert their security tools into marketing tools. (See Putting Security in the Bank.) Bank of America was one of the first to do it with its SiteKey authentication, and now other banks are looking for ways to cash in on their security investments. (See Flaws Reported in Bank of America System.) They want to attract and retain banking customers with a marketing campaign that makes its online banking look safer than other banks.

But security pros at most financial institutions are still struggling to get the business side of the bank on board with building security into their initiatives, instead of as an afterthought. CISOs at last week's Cyber Security Executive Summit were lamenting how it's still hard to get the business side to treat security as part of the business plan.

That's, like, totally not going to help them launch a new marketing campaign.

It may take a little more financial persuasion. Credit card companies didn't start to spin security technology into a revenue-generating service until identity-theft breaches actually began costing them lots of money.

And here's the thing: If and when banks finally do embrace multi-factor authentication or other security technologies as a marketing campaign and not just a regulatory checkbox, will consumers really care? Does Jake B. prefer strong authentication over Passmark?

Tell us whether you think consumers would consider changing banks if another bank advertised better online security. And please, not by email or spam, but by clicking on the "Discuss" link below and posting to our message board.

— Kelly Jackson Higgins, Senior Editor, Dark Reading

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