Recently, both of my banks have been trying to foist Trusteer Rapport on me when accessing their online banking services. I haven't downloaded it because I can't figure out what it actually does, and I'm wary of it being some enormous piece of obnoxious, clunky, badly-written, distribute-stuff-all-over-the-system bloatware*.

All I can find out from the banks and Trusteer is patronising explanations that it does all sorts of wonderful things like preventing phishing, encrypting data transmitted, blocking malware, solving world hunger, bringing about universal peace, now just install it and go back to your life, there, there. This is all very good for the average luddite, but I'm still mystified as to what Rapport does. What does it do that TLS doesn't do already? How does it do it? Perhaps more importantly, how obnoxious is it? Will I notice it when I'm not doing my online banking? Does it install stuff in the right places on a Mac? Is it easily uninstallable?

* Cynical? Moi?


I had the software installed but uninstalled it as I found it was constantly connecting to the internet whether I was browsing or not, connected to my bank's online services or not.

As far as I can tell it verifies the SSL certificate of your bank's server (which I guess is the reason they customize it per banking institution, and prevents your account details from being snooped by browser plug ins / add ons.

The more insidious aspect hinted at on the Trusteer Rapport product overview page, is that the software immediately reports to your bank any potential breach in security. I have heard some (unverified by me) reports of banks freezing accounts upon getting one of these breach reports from the software.

My advice would be to install this software only if your computer / laptop is used by people who install software indiscriminately, visit high risk internet sites, or are prone to clicking on links in e-mails that claim to be your bank asking for you to "update your details."


The main thing it does is check that the IP address of the server you are visiting matches what it believes is the correct one for the domain name in the URL. It adds a widget to the browser that changes to green when a protected site is accessed and matches.

trusteer widget

You can add sites to it.

trusteer dialog

Another thing it does is warn you when you type personal details into a form on a non-bank web-page where those details match some that you type into a bank's web-page (e.g. your account number?) I presume this is to counter phishing or cross-site scripting.

I didn't like it much to start with but am used to it being there now. Current versions are a bit less visually intrusive than older versions.

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