Online Banking Safety Tips: How to Protect Your InformationVanessa Venugopal
Online banking became a spot-on convenience to plenty of people. As of 2020, there are about 1.9 billion people who actively use online banking services. In 2024, the number is expected to increase to about 2.5 billion users.
If you aren’t into online banking, you belong to a small group of people who do so. Most individuals go through online or mobile banking to manage their finances. Aside from checking their money, they use it to pay bills, deposit checks, and even send money.
Now, gone are the days you need to go to your bank to check your accounts. Online and mobile banking make things easier and accessible at all times.
However, the growing number of online banking users created a bigger concern. As people access their finances online, cybercriminals find ways to get their hands to those accounts.
In fact, 25% of malware attacks hit banks and financial institutions compared to other industries. It shows that hackers are keen on having their hands on financial accounts because they can steal money and use the information for identity theft.
Banking threats should be taken seriously. It’s not only going to ruin a person financially, but they can even be in debt or face legal issues.
Although banks have extremely tight security measures like 128-bit and 256-bit for data encryption, you as a user should also learn to protect your information further.
Online Banking Hackers
There are different categories of hackers that target online banking.
- State-sponsored Hackers: They are employed by a state or government to go after a bank system. As a result, it interferes with the operation of the target.
- Cybercriminals: Their primary goal is to steal money from financial or banking institutions by targeting accounts of individual users.
- Hacktivists: Criminals that join together to support a cause. They attack an institution that is against their beliefs.
No matter who the attackers are or the reason behind their actions, it is vital to keep your online and mobile banking activities safe.
Common Threats Encountered by Online Banking
Encryption is a valuable practice to protect data from being seen by anyone. It’s only allowed to be accessed by individuals with the encryption key.
All banks and financial institutions make sure to encrypt their data. So that when someone tries to steal it, they won’t be able to see what’s written.
However, using an unsecured and unencrypted network to access financial sites can give hackers the right to see the data transferred from one server to another.
When hackers gain access to unencrypted data, it can lead to data breaches and identity theft.
Malware is one of the most common and biggest threats for almost all types of attacks. Most often, end-user devices are the reason why banks’ cybersecurity are compromised.
If malware is present on a device, it can access the data that passes through the network.
Another malware that poses harm is Keylogger Trojans. It’s a type of spyware that can track a user’s login credentials by capturing the keystrokes on the keyboard.
Without proper security measures, people can easily fall for fake websites. Why? Hackers are intelligent enough to create a website that looks exactly like the original institution’s website.
Using fake websites or spoofing is a cybersecurity threat that hackers use to impersonate a bank’s website. It looks exactly like the original. Therefore, when some login to the website, all information is transferred to the hacker.
What’s even more concerning is that such attacks are even becoming more convincing. Hackers will even use the same URL as the original, which makes it difficult to differentiate.
Hackers don’t always go in to take data; sometimes, they make changes. This form of attack is difficult to identify immediately. Hence, it can cost financial organizations millions, if not billions, of dollars in losses. Because altered data doesn’t always appear to be different from unaltered data on the surface, it might be difficult to tell what has and hasn’t been changed if your bank has been hacked.
Unsecured Third-party Providers
To better serve their customers, banks and financial institutions use third-party services from other providers. However, if those third-party providers don’t have adequate cyber protection, the bank, and their clients would suffer the consequence.
A phishing email is the most common method hackers use to steal users’ information. Users can either click on a link that leads to a fake website (read more on the section of the fake website). Or, they can download malware on their device that can eventually steal information from the user.
To avoid the threats mentioned above, users should take responsibility for protecting their data. Banks and financial institutions can implement the best and world-class security measures on their network, but often the cause of security breach is due to user’s activities.
Learn to keep your accounts and other information safe for online banking with these tips.
Online Banking Safety Tips
Choose a Strong and Complex Passwords
Choosing a strong password is the first step to securing your accounts. If you read topics about cybersecurity, again and again, experts recommend using complex passwords.
Passwords safeguard your accounts. If anyone gets access to your password, they’ll be able to open your account.
Most users who create accounts choose passwords that are short and easy to remember. Often they use information that they know, like the name of a person, their birthday, or commonly used passwords. These types of passwords are easy to crack. Hackers can determine the personal information of a user through social media or other means. Furthermore, they have a list of commonly used passwords that they can use.
The more complicated your passwords are, the more difficult it would be for cybercriminals to access your account. If they use a tool to crack the password, it will take them months and years.
A strong and unique password should look like this,
It looks hard to remember, right? Don’t worry. Password managers are tools that can store all your unique passwords. You don’t need to remember all your login credentials at all. It will automatically log you into your accounts.
Tips When Creating a Strong Password:
- Combine upper and lower cases, symbols, and numbers
- Use more than 14-characters long
- Do not recycle passwords
- Never use personal information as a password
- Must be unique and not seen on a dictionary
- Never store login details on your bank app or online bank
- Change passwords after three to six months
Two-factor Authentication Process
Two-factor authentication or 2FA is a security process to verify the account user. It protects the user’s credentials and accounts.
2FA can add a layer of protection to your account. Whenever you log in to your bank, it will ask you a security test, such as a code or question.
Often codes are sent via email or SMS. You can even opt for biometric logins like fingerprints.
After you input your 2FA, you can now access your bank account and statement.
Never Access Using Public or Free Wi-Fi
Public Wi-Fi poses plenty of security risks. Even though it is convenient for everyone, public Wi-Fi can lead to damages.
Hackers like free networks because they can easily spy on users connected. It allows them to spread malware into the device or check on data being transferred.
The best option is to never access your bank account or any financial transactions with free Wi-Fi.
However, if circumstances require you to access online banking, you need to take extra precautions. Disable all file-sharing options, connect to a website with HTTPS, and opt for a VPN.
VPN can mask your IP address and encrypt the data being transferred on the network.
Check out our best-selling VPN HMA Avast!
Audit Your Bank Account
Keep an eye on your bank statement. Despite banks having an outstanding security service, some attacks are discreet. Make sure that you constantly check your account for questionable transactions.
Sign Up for Banking Alerts and Notifications
If you want to be secure and monitor your accounts, you need to activate notifications and alerts. You can choose to receive emails or texts regarding your accounts.
Messages received from banks can be of the following:
- Failed login
- Bank or credit card transactions
- Change in password
- Money transfer
Receiving alerts can inform you immediately if there are suspicious activities or attempts to your account. You can log in and change your password.
Invest in an Antivirus Software Program
If security is what you need, antivirus or anti-malware programs are an essential part of it. Online banking can face tremendous amounts of threats. Using a single security measure is not enough.
To keep your device and online activity safe all the time, choosing an antivirus software program is beneficial. It proactively runs in the background and informs users if there is the presence of a threat.
Choosing your security software depends on the features you need and your computer.
You can enjoy various options such as Bitdefender, Kaspersky, or Watchdog internet security.
Be Careful of Phishing Scams
The most common method utilized by hackers to steal vital information is through phishing. The best way to spread this scam is via email.
Email is the best choice for hackers since people link everything to their email. Using email makes it look more legitimate.
Often, people who are not on alert fall victim to this attack. Phishing emails appear to look authentic, like a message from your bank urgently asking you to click on the link to change your password.
When the user clicks on the link, they are directed to a website that looks like the user’s bank. However, any data entered using the link will give hackers the details they need to access your account.
Or, if not going to a website, you can download malware into your device, and it can track your keystrokes to steal your passwords and other financial details.
That’s why you need to stay alert when opening and clicking on suspicious emails. Learn the signs of a fake email, contact your bank for further information, never click on a link on your email, and so on.
Update Devices and Software
When your device or software requires an update, don’t hesitate to allow it.
Updating your computer and applications allow you to patch vulnerabilities available. If you leave your software outdated, hackers can use that as a way to insert malicious programs into your computer and network.
Don’t Save Login Details
We tend to save our login details on our browser to access our account for future use. However, someone can easily open your account if you have your online banking details saved.
Banks nowadays keep users safe by logging them out automatically once they are inactive without saving information.
Type Bank Web Address on the Browser
To avoid phishing scams, you shouldn’t click on links sent to you via email. Instead, type your bank’s web address on the browser. It is better, as you know that you land on your bank’s website rather than on a phishing site.
Online banking gives us the freedom to manage our finances anywhere and anytime. However, as it brings us convenience, it also places us at risk of cyber-attacks. You can keep away from hackers by taking a safe and careful approach to protecting yourself online.
By implementing security practices, you can guarantee that your online banking information is less likely to fall into the wrong hands.