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Image: Warren Hackshall

Image: Warren Hackshall

AUSTRALIA'S major banks are on a heightened security footing amid fears of being targeted by the high-profile hacking group Anonymous.

ANZ's top technology executive, Ann Weatherston, said yesterday that investment in technology security had been one of the highest priorities at the bank for the past few years, and spending on that area was now a core part of operations.

''Customers increasingly will judge their banks by the quality of their security,'' she said.

Last month, the global group Anonymous and a second hacking network called LulzSec said they were planning to join forces in a campaign aimed at banks, government agencies and prominent targets around the world to encourage others to steal and leak classified information.

Ms Weatherston made the comments as ANZ outlined a five-year technology blueprint, including setting a target that would eventually give its customers a ''seamless'' technology experience through all of the countries in which it operated.

The plan also involves an upgrade of ANZ's internet banking, expanding its ATM network, and pushing further into mobile-banking.

ANZ also expects to start processing deposit and payment transactions in real time for business customers across its entire Asian network.

With some rival banks, including Commonwealth Bank, upgrading their core banking, ANZ's deputy chief executive, Graham Hodges, said he did not see a need for a big overhaul at this point. The bank would focus on upgrading and simplifying existing systems.

''What is right for us is not necessarily right for someone else,'' he said. He said ANZ's system was more modern than that of its bigger rival, and it was focused on spending more on building up its Asian banking businesses.

Technology remains one of the biggest expenses for banks and, given additional cost and risks, many are reluctant to tinker with systems that work.

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