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Banks are switching to ‘dot-bank’ websites — here’s what that is

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In years, several hundred financial institutions have been moving from well-known dot-com addresses to dot-bank top-level domains. This move is meant to prove that the bank is a genuine bank, especially in an era where online scams are rampant. Though it may seem insignificant, it is an important step toward maintaining the security and integrity of online banking.

It is possible that you are not familiar with the dot-bank domain. Your bank might not have adopted it yet, as not all banks have made the switch since it became widely available in mid-2015. Alternatively, you might not have noticed the change in the website’s URL because you are accessing it through a bookmarked link that redirects you to the new location.

Lead Bank, City Bank Texas, and North Shore Bank have already adopted dot-bank, and others are likely to do the same. Understanding what dot-bank is can help you identify and avoid online scams, as the extension is more effective in this regard.

What is dot-bank?

The dot-bank extension is operated by the fTLD Registry Services coalition, which promotes it as a symbol of trustworthiness on the internet.

The reason is that the dot-bank extension is restricted to banks and certain bank technology vendors only, unlike the dot-com extension. Applicants must undergo a thorough screening process to obtain this extension for their URLs and emails. Additionally, banks with dot-bank extensions are expected to adhere continually to registry policies, such as incorporating email authentication.

According to Drew Schiff, who is the director of engagement services at fTLD Registry Services, dot-bank serves as a prompt visual indicator suggesting that the source is a bank. It’s like a blue Twitter badge confirming the account’s authenticity or a dot-gov extension denoting a government organization.

The possibilities of dot-bank

Dot-bank was created with the goal of reducing cybercriminal attacks.

A common scam involves receiving emails with links that take you to a fraudulent bank website that appears to be the real one. These websites are often created to look almost identical to the real site and exploit individuals who may be in a rush. As a result, you may unknowingly provide the scammers with your personal banking information.

According to Shirley Inscoe, a senior analyst at Aite Group, a research and advisory firm, the profitability for the bad actors is high enough that they won’t cease their activities.

Dot-bank is a security measure implemented by financial institutions in their email addresses to prevent cyber attacks. Criminals should not be using dot-bank addresses, but it’s important to check for the dot-bank in the address to avoid falling victim to attacks.

According to Inscoe, there is no foolproof solution.

Why isn’t my bank on a dot-bank?

Your bank may not have started using dot-bank for various reasons. While it may seem like a simple change for you, banks need to invest time and money to make the switch, update their systems and promote their new branding. Alternatively, some banks may be waiting for the perfect opportunity, similar to North Shore Bank’s approach.

According to Derek Rowan, the IT manager at North Shore Bank, the investment in NorthShore.Bank was seen as an opportunity to add extra security measures. Although the bank had obtained the dot-bank domain months before, it decided to delay its release when it was launching other online updates.

The customer reactions to the changes have been positive, but it is difficult to determine whether it is because of dot-bank or the newly revamped website. This is because multiple changes were implemented at the same time, according to Rowan.

Nothing prevents everything

Jim Trautwein, a senior director at Cornerstone Advisors, a banking consultancy firm, has expressed worry that until dot-bank becomes more common, consumers may mistake it for a hoax and defeat its intended purpose.

Customers with accounts across five different banks may become confused by the rebranding, particularly if only two of the banks are using the dot-bank extension. Additionally, it is important to consider whether the bank’s core technology vendor is also implementing the extension. Otherwise, customers may see a dot-bank address before logging in and a dot-com address after logging in.

Trautwein believes that it will take a considerable amount of time to see the advantages of this technology. He thinks that it has the potential to alleviate customers’ concerns, but this can only happen after it becomes a standard. However, Trautwein thinks that it will take several years to establish it as a standard.

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