In the past, banking was a pretty cumbersome task, as you had to physically go to the bank to send or receive money and complete other basic tasks. Thanks to the internet boom, online banking arrived and it has completely changed the way we handle our banking tasks. Now we can easily send and receive money and keep track of multiple accounts right from our phone or computer. However, when something is “online”, it’s at greater risk of being compromised.
The world is full of hackers and various online accounts & bank accounts are one of their prime targets. So, to keep your hard-earned money safe, you need to stay safe while online banking, and it is not as easy as protecting your cheque book or debit card in your pocket. Don’t worry though, as we are listing down 15 online banking safety tips that should keep you safe:
1. Use a Strong Password
This is the most basic yet important task you should do for any of your online accounts and it is one of the best security measures you can take. You need to use a strong password containing upper & lower case letters, numerals, and characters. A hacker will take less than a minute to hack a weak password like “Ihatebananas349”. Apart from a strong password, never use the same password on different online accounts, as a single compromised account could lead to compromising all of your accounts. You can use a good password manager to remember all the passwords, so there’s that. Also, changing your password frequently is a good habit and should help fortify your account security.
2. Prefer Two-Factor Authentication
Two-Factor authentication allows you to login to your account using your password and a code sent to your phone. This forces hackers to get hold of both your password and your mobile phone to be able to hack your account, which is quite difficult. Try going for a bank account that cares about your account security and offers two-factor authentication. Many popular banks offer this feature, so do your research before opening an account.
3. Secure Your PC
If you are using your PC to access your banking account, then you need to make sure your PC isn’t infected. A malware like a keylogger or a monitoring software could easily steal your login information and compromise your account. You need to ensure your PC’s firewall is enabled and download a reliable antivirus program to protect against malware.
On top of this, you should also have the latest version of the operating system you are using, and have the latest version of your preferred browser. Operating systems and browsers are updated frequently to bring protection against latest threats and an updated system will ensure you don’t become a victim.
4. Secure Your Smartphone
If you use your smartphone for online banking, then it’s important to ensure that your device is secure. Although antivirus apps are available for Android and iOS, it is not compulsory to use them, as risks of infections are low on smartphones (but it’s still there). However, you should ensure your smartphone is locked with a password or a strong protection, so people don’t steal the information inside.
Also, smartphones are portable and can get easily lost and in such a situation the password protected phone will give you enough time to let your bank know about the situation. If you have an Android smartphone, then you can follow our extensive guide on Android security to secure your phone.
5. Beware of Fake Emails and Calls
A scammer may pose as your bank agent and ask for your login details to solve an issue or provide an incentive. Engrave the fact in your brain, that no matter what happens, a bank (or any other company) will never ask for your login details or other personal information by any medium (even in person). Simply ignore any such requests, or if you are curious; call your bank yourself and dig the truth out.
The max they can ask is your account number or may be some ID details that you have already provided to them while opening the account.
6. Check for Encrypted Connection to Bank Website
Encryption is one of the most basic security your bank can offer. An encrypted connection on your bank’s website will stop any snoopers from stealing your information while you enter your details in the login field. Look for a green “Padlock” icon at the start of the address bar while on the bank’s website. This indicates that the connection is encrypted and you can safely login.
You need to check this every time you login to your bank account, because in a phishing attack the encryption is usually unavailable. If your bank doesn’t provide encryption, please open an account with another bank who does provide an encrypted connection.
7. Avoid Using Public Devices
With your bank account, only trust your own devices that you have secured. Never use a public PC to access your bank account, as many public PCs are usually infected and never taken care of. This also holds true for borrowing a device from another person or friend, as they may not be following the security measures that you have taken to secure your device.
Even if you do use a public device, make sure you logout when you are done and delete generated data like we have mentioned later in the article. Furthermore, You should also make a habit of logging out of your account even on your PC to prevent session hijacking.
8. Track Changes in Your Account
Thanks to online banking, it is very easy to keep track of changes in your account unlike before, when you had to wait for the bank statement. Simply login to your account and you will see a complete history of transactions made by you along with any changes. You should check out your bank statement frequently (preferably daily) to keep a check and report any suspicious activity immediately.
9. Avoid Malicious Hyperlinks
If you receive a link in an email or any other text medium asking you to provide login details or get an offer, think twice before clicking. A malicious link could download a malware in your PC or redirect you to a fake website (phishing attack) to steal your information. Never ever login to any online account through a link provided to you by another person or external source. Always type the URL in the browser’s address bar and manually login to your account.
10. Refrain from using Public Wi-Fi
Don’t trust a public Wi-Fi network, as it is very easy to steal information if the hacker is on the same network. If you have to use a public Wi-Fi network, make sure you use a good VPN on both your PC or smartphone to encrypt the connection and keep the snoopers out. However, we should also let you know that sometimes a hotspot itself could be infected and even the VPN won’t help you in such situation. Simply put, refrain from using public Wi-Fi networks for online banking unless you have no other option.
11. Set up Account Notifications
Many banks offer custom notifications for specific activity in your account, so you need to make sure you take advantage of it. For example, you may get notifications for withdrawals, account information changes, suspicious logins or any other suspicious activity. Such notifications will keep you updated with account status and give you power to react in time. Additionally, as we mentioned above, some banks also let you add two-factor authentication on outgoing transactions, which is a great feature.
12. Use Incognito or Private Browser Window
Incognito or Private window deletes all types of data generated while browsing on the web as soon as the window closes. All popular browsers offer this feature and you can press Ctrl+Shift+N or Ctrl+Shift+P to access it. When you will login to your online bank account through this window, it will delete all the generated data such as cookies, cache, history and other similar data, when you close the window. This will ensure that no one (including malware) takes advantage of your browsing session and hack or access your account.
13. Use Bank’s App on your Smartphone
If you are banking from your smartphone, it’s a good idea to use an app provided by your bank (most banks do offer apps for Android and iOS) instead of using the web portal. The apps are usually safer with activity encrypted communication, plus hackers rarely target apps. You will also have to follow less precautions while using the app as compared to a browser.
14. Make Sure Your Passwords are Encrypted with the Bank
Your data is kept in the bank’s servers, and it is not uncommon for banks to have breaches. Thus, you should ensure that your bank is saving your data in encrypted vaults that are hard for hackers to break into. A good trick to find out if the bank is secure or not is by using the “Forget Password” option on the bank’s website. If the bank sends you your original password, then it means your information is not encrypted. However, if they tell you to change your password and create a new one, then it probably means that the information is encrypted and they don’t know the exact password.
15. One-Time Password Scam
This is a really common scam these days that you should be aware of. You may receive a password on your phone followed by a call from a person claiming to be bank’s agent and asking you to give up that password. If you will give up that password, your account will be hacked.
When you ask for password change for your online bank account, the bank sends half of the password to your email and half to your mobile phone as text message. In one-time password scam, the scammer has already hacked your email account, but he doesn’t have access to your phone. So to complete the other half of the password, he must call you and ask for it. If this happens to you, immediately inform your bank and secure your email account as well.
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Secure your online banking transactions with these tips
The convenience offered by online banking is too good to pass by, so doing it safely is usually the best decision. The hackers never take a break and are always trying to hack into accounts to steal information and money, so you can never go easy on the safety side. Follow the above tips and make sure your online bank account is safe.