Despite the daily reports of hackers, the percentage of people using online banking continues to rise. In a 2019 survey by the American Bankers Association, 73 percent of Americans access their bank accounts online via their mobile devices. Online banking has its benefits, the main one being the convenience to transact from virtually any location, as long as there is an internet connection. Customers also get potentially lower fees and better interest rates. But, there’s one downside: security. Your bank account contains vital information, such as your bank account and password. With such details, a hacker can wire all the money to their own accounts or treat themselves to a shopping spree.
Online Banking Security Concerns
The high percentage of customers falling prey to internet scams should be worrying. Hackers use various methods to commit fraud. Some of the most common ones include:
- Phishing emails, where hackers send fraudulent emails, claiming to come from authorized channels. Once you open the links or attachments in the email, a type of malware or spyware is installed on your computer. This allows hackers to remotely read and access sensitive data like passwords and PIN.
- Trojans. This is a type of virus that usually gets installed on your computer when you visit untrustworthy websites. Once the Trojan is installed, it reads/steals sensitive information like credit card numbers, passwords, and so on. With all the risks involved with online banking, what can you do to stay safe and protect your account from cybercriminals? Here are a few tips:
1. Avoid Using Public Wi-Fi
Due to the conveniences that online banking affords you, it is easy to be tempted to log in to your bank accounts from anywhere with access to Wi-Fi, such as the café around the corner, while enjoying a delicious cup of coffee. But beware. Just like you can't tell the motives of those around you in a public place, you can't know who’s snooping on what you're doing on your phone or laptop. Hackers can record your keystrokes (what they call keylogging) or even use video cameras to record everything you type. Before you know it, you start getting alerts that someone has withdrawn cash from your account.
2. Change Your Passwords Regularly
It can be quite a pain to keep track of all the passwords. But when it comes to sensitive information like banking details, considering that’s where you keep all your money, it's highly advisable to change passwords often. And use strong and unique passwords every time. Additionally, don’t use one password across multiple accounts or any of the common numbers and digits like your year of birth or social security number as your passwords. Keep updating your passwords regularly; you never know when hackers will come striking.
3. Enable Two-Factor Authentication
Most banks offer top-of-the-line security to provide an extra layer of protection for their customers. First, opt for an online bank with a proven security track record. Check if they offer two-step verification/authentication that requires you to secure your account using Two steps.
- Step one: you enter a password
- Step two: you provide any other additional information.
This could be an answer to a security question, entering a code sent to your phone, or using your fingerprint to verify that it's you.
4. Sign Up for Identify Protection
Be sure to enroll in your bank's email or text alerts that notify you whenever a transaction or suspicious activity is carried out in your account. Configure the settings to get alerts for failed logins, credit and debit card transactions, password change requests, and wire transfers. Some banks offer fraud monitoring or identity theft protection services for free. This way, you can always know what's going on with your account.
5. Don’t Open Emails Whose Sources You Don’t Know
Phishing scams are real, and you don’t want to become a victim. These emails look like they come from an official source like your bank or employer, tricking you to give out your bank details. The links usually take you to a malicious website or automatically triggers the installation of malware into your computer. With the malware installed, hackers can access anything they want from your computer. The same goes for fraudulent calls purporting to be from the bank asking for your bank information. As such, don’t open suspicious emails or answer phone calls from strangers. Instead, get in touch with your bank immediately and clarify the matter with them.
The Bottom Line
Online banking gives you control over your finances and makes transacting business easy and quick. But, in a hacker-happy world, you should be careful about anything you do online. Remember to update your passwords often, enable two-step verification, and never use public Wi-Fi to login to your bank accounts. These basic security tips will help you keep hackers at bay and protect your hard-earned cash.
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