Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols’ post on ITWorld tells us what we already know: If possible, do not use Windows where you have to transmit sensitive information such as your credit card detail and bank account details.
For on-line shopping. The answer today is a resounding YES. The strangle-grip that Windows (or more precisely IE) has on website is no longer. Nowadays, thanks to Firefox’s popularity, the site will works with whatever browser/operating system combination as they are moving away from IE-centric technology to open standards.
However, I questions the practicality of doing it for banking. Primarily as a result of the high stake involved. Imagine someone fraudulently take a lot of money away from you and the bank says it is from your online banking. Now, the bank is going to scrutinize your computer and say you are at fault because you are running on Linux/MacOSX and you are on your own, regardless of whether the other operating systems are more secure. More interestingly, if you are in UK, the Banking Code (PDF) itself requires you to have up-to-date anti-virus, anti-virus and firewall software installed (clause 12.9). Now, do you really want arguing with your bank that Linux is more secure and do not need all those rubbish softwares? Let’s phrase it differently: Do you really want to spend the money and time to proof that Linux is more secure and do not need all those rubbish in the court of law, if it comes to it? In other words, I am saying you can be better off using an insecure Windows (with all the rubbish softwares up-to-date) then on a secure Linux or Mac.
Before you say it, yes, we have the same with on-line shopping. However, the credit card company is more mature on this front and is more likely to refund you. Moreover, fierce competition with other credit cards, online shopping facilities such as PayPal and Google Check out means they are more likely to listen to you. For banking we are still in the early stages where the way to deal with problems like this is still being ironed out. This is not helped by the fact that the banks take the position that it must be your fault. Period; End of discussion.