Internet Banking: Is Trusteer Rapport Worth the Effort?

Trusteer Rapport logo

My two UK banks’ websites (most of the others are on the same bandwagon) keep bothering me to install Trusteer Rapport software to protect my login from identity thieves during online banking sessions.

In my personal and professional experience, I have seen nothing but problems with this Trusteer Rapport from IBM, and I will absolutely not have it on any of my systems. So, here are your questions answered and, if you have any more, please feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll reply as soon as I can:

What is Trusteer Rapport?

Created by an Israeli company and then purchased by IBM, Trusteer Rapport is a freely-available security application that many High Street banks actively encourage you to download and install. Its intent is to protect confidential data that you enter into web pages, such as account user login details, from being stolen by malware or via phishing. The software includes anti-phishing measures to protect against web pages directing you to hacker or hacked websites (which, for example, look identical to your bank’s or PayPal’s website) and is also supposed to prevent screen captures.

Rapport includes many forms of protection against a whole range of known computer hijacking methods. It is available for PC and Mac and financial institutions offer the software free of charge with a view to making online banking safer for customers. It does this by shrouding your entire operating system in an overlapping and inter-weaved series of digital security blankets. It purports to work even if you install it on an already-infected system!

So, on the face of it, this is a great leap forward for online security, but it’s important to remember that the software is licensed (paid for) by these large financial institutions, not by you, the end user. It is therefore the financial institutions who are the customer, not you. So when this software makes your computer completely inaccessible to even the average computer repair man, it’s you who pays the bill when Trusteer Rapport goes wrong.

Why this article?

Just do a Google search for “Trusteer Rapport computer problem” and you’ll soon find people from all walks of life reporting everything from crushing slowness to Windows deactivation to 0xA BSODs (the beloved Blue Screen Of Death), all caused either by the failed installation of the software or somebody’s vain attempt to uninstall the software from their computer.

Should I install it?

In a word, No. In another word, Never. Take your pick. Why?

1. Your computer

The least serious of the two reasons not to install Trusteer Rapport is that it could make your computer completely unusable. The main complaints about this software concern stability issues and resource management, especially but not restricted to Windows. You only need to search Google to see how many people worldwide have Trusteer Rapport problems, and that’s since at least 2010! I’ve not seen a single instance where Trusteer Rapport trashes your data, so this shouldn’t be a major concern of yours. The issue is the financial cost to you when you call a man like me to come and make sense of a computer that no longer starts because the operating system (e.g. Windows) is fundamentally broken.

2. Your privacy

Crazy as this might sound, Trusteer Rapport collects keystrokes and online financial details, encrypts them, then stores them on a server somewhere for use in analysing your online financial activities. They record how you access you bank’s website and what you do whilst on it. They say this is to identify and prevent fraudulent online financial activity using your information, but frankly in my view IBM have no business recording your or my access to personal and privileged banking activity and then storing that on a server. We have seen time and again the servers of some of the largest corporations in the world being hacked. If you’re running Trusteer Rapport, IBM’s server has a record of your banking login details and recent online activity. Do you feel safe? I don’t.

This is the full list of what you authorise IBM to collect from YOUR computer if you install Trusteer Rapport.

Will banks stop taking responsibility if it isn’t installed?

Banks, as has often been the case, are a law unto themselves, but unless a bank specifically says it will not cover you in the event of unlawful access to your account unless you use Trusteer Rapport, then you’re OK. They cannot advise you to use it and then stop paying out if you don’t.

I found this comment on a website which sums up my feelings precisely (without the venom): “System performance improved after I uninstalled it, and given my existing security software and safe usage strategies that have kept my logins safe so far, I don’t think I’m missing out on much.” [Source]

 Does anyone use Trusteer Rapport for their intenet banking?

I would, however, wish to add that I have a financial interest in you installing Trusteer Rapport. You may end up paying me to help you get your computer back! But I’d much rather that you didn’t. Just use safe personal computer security practices* and you shouldn’t have any reason to worry.

* you do this with your home, surely you should do this with your computer which accesses your online bank and social media?