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SEC urges security in online trading

Online stock traders have been targeted by fraudsters, prompting commission to issue security warnings.

Fraudsters have successfully pilfered money out of online brokerage accounts, prompting the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to urge traders to take security measures.

The SEC published an investor guide Thursday, warning users of keystroke-logging software, phishing scams and traditional snoops as ways fraudsters could obtain access to online brokerage accounts and steal money. The agency suggests beefing up security to protect against such thieves.

"We are concerned that many investors aren't taking appropriate precautions when accessing their online brokerage accounts," SEC Investor Education Director Susan Wyderko said in a statement. "In our guide, we offer tips on how online investors can protect their personal information from intruders."

There have been "numerous situations" over the past months in which unauthorized individuals gained access to online brokerage accounts, according to the SEC. In some cases, money was stolen by transferring funds from the accounts, the SEC said.

The SEC's advice mirrors that of most security companies and Microsoft's "Protect Your PC" guidance. The agency recommends installing security software such as a firewall, antivirus and anti-spyware applications. Users should also ignore e-mails "phishing" for personal information.

Additionally, the SEC recommends using a security token that generates a one-time password. Some online brokers offer those tokens to their customers, but typically at a cost.