Must Have Tips for Safe Online Banking

Must Have Tips for Safe Online Banking

Online banking is convenient, there's no doubt about it. But it also involves security risks you should know how to protect yourself against.

Nowadays, all the money transactions we need can be made from the comfort of our own home. Pretty convenient, isn't it?

Even though online banking is extremely useful, making our lives way easier, it also comes with some risks. After all, you give up some highly sensitive information when checking your bank account, providing credit card information to websites or making online payments.

While websites provide some level of security for our private information, you can't solely rely on them to keep your money secured. You must also be aware of the risks involved in online transactions and implement extra security measures yourself.

Here are the best tips to make online banking safe and secure.

1. Change your passwords regularly

Firstly, I want to empathize on how important it is that the password for your bank account should be complex and unique. It should be a combination of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. And you should be only using that one password solely for your bank account and nothing else.

I know it sounds like a headache having to remember different passwords for different accounts, especially when they are complex and hard to remember to start with. That's the reason why many people chose to use the same password all around. But even if the strength of the password is high, using it for multiple accounts does nothing but putting your accounts at risk. If cybercriminals get hold of your password from a data breach, for example, they will try that login credentials on all platforms, hence getting access to your bank account also.

Secondly, regularly changing your password will help protect your online bank account even further.

And all this process doesn't have to be a hard task. Fortunately, there are these tools called password managers that will help you easily manage all of your passwords without having to memorize each of them by heart.

2. Two-factor authentication

Multi-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security to your online accounts. And most banks provide users this option of enabling two-factor authentication. If your bank gives you this option, you should take advantage of it to further protect your sensitive information.

What two-factor authentication means? Well, in most cases, if you enable this feature, every time you'll try to login to your bank account you'll receive a text message containing a one-time code you must provide in order to verify your identity.

Why bother taking this extra step, you ask? Because your online bank account will be more secured when two-factor authentication is enabled. Even if a cybercriminal manages to find out your login credentials, they won't be able to log into your account without the verification code.

3. Disable automatic login

Having your browser remember your username and password so you don't have to provide them all the time is really convenient, isn't it? I know. But as useful as this practice is, automatically logging into online bank accounts puts your sensitive information and money at risk.

Phones are especially risky when it comes to browsers remembering login information. If your phone gets lost or stolen, whoever gets their hands on it will have access to your bank account without needing your username and password. And while it's less likely for someone to steal your desktop device, it doesn't mean they are safe to be trusted with automatic logins. Hackers have ways to break into computers even if they lack physical access.

If you're using automatic login, you should disable it right away. This means you'll have an extra step to take when you'll be accessing your online bank account, but aren't the security of your information and money worth it?

4. Be aware of phishing emails

Knowing about phishing emails is one of the most important aspects of protecting yourself and private information online. And it's highly related to online banking as banking data is the most targeted type of information by phishing attacks.

Through a phishing attack, cybercriminals send fake emails to users, impersonating financial institutions in most cases, with the goal of winning users' trust so they provide sensitive information such as bank account or credit card information. You might receive an email that looks like coming from your bank, asking you to access a link and provide the username and password to verify the identity. Doing so will give hackers all the information they need to access your online bank account and steal your money.

You should be aware that banks and other financial institution never ask for sensitive information via email or text messages. If you should receive such an email, don't access the link in the email. Instead, go to your bank's website by typing the bank's address in the URL bar and contact the bank to report the malicious occurrence.

5. Make sure the connection is secured

When you're checking your bank account or making money transactions online, always make sure the connection is secured. This means looking for the HTTPS in the URL bar and the padlock.

HTTPS protocols create a secure encrypted connection, adding several layers of security for your online transactions, contrary to HTTP connections which are not encrypted and are highly vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks. Using HTTP websites for money transactions could end catastrophically for your bank account.

6. Secure your devices

Properly securing your devices plays a huge role in enhanced online banking security. A poorly secured device can be easily hacked. Not to mention that the information it holds, including your banking information, can be accessed if someone should physically get their hand on your devices through losing them or having them stolen.

The first thing you should do is make sure you're using one of the ways to lock your smartphone, tablet or laptop. You can do so by using a PIN code, pattern lock, or biometrics such as a fingerprint. This way, no one will have access to the information stored on your devices even if they seal it.

Secondly, you should always have an antivirus or antimalware software installed on all your devices. There are many ways in which your devices can get infected with malware (malicious apps, malicious links) and smartphones make no exception.

7. Make use of the Mobile Banking App

As we previously talked about, all devices are being prone to get hacked. And right now, computers are at the greatest risk, even though mobile devices attacks keep on rising.

The most secure way to access your bank account is through the bank's mobile app. These apps are encrypted, they store your details on a secure data center instead of on your phone, and they are less prone to hacker attacks compared to the bank's website.

8. 3D Secure

3D secure is a protocol designed to add an extra layer of security for online credit and debit card transactions. This feature is offered by Visa, Mastercard, Discover, JCB International, and American Express (it has a different name based on the provider). Its purpose is to reduce the risk of cybercriminals using other people's payment cards fraudulently on the internet.

When you have this option enabled, for each online payment you make (say you're online shopping and chose online payment), you'll receive a text message with a one-time code. The money transaction will not be finished unless you provide the code from the text message in the pop-up window that will appear during the online transaction process.

Having this feature will strengthen your online banking security because even if someone steals your credit card (or your credit card details), they won't be able to use it for online payments without the text message code.

9. Use VPN on public WiFi

Public WiFi networks are the most dangerous when it comes to online security and the threat is even higher when you're using those networks for activities that involve sensitive information such as your bank account details.

You have no idea who manages the public WiFi network and who else has access to it. Not to mention that public networks are usually poorly secured, so they are pretty easy to get hacked. And if you use the network to log in to your bank account or provide credit card details for an online money transaction, whoever has access to the network will be able to steal your information and use it for fraudulent activities.

You should never use public WiFi networks to check your bank account or for online payments.

Still, if you are using public WiFi networks on a regular basis, there is a way to secure your online bank account if you really need to use it - VPNs.

A VPN will secure your connection by creating an encrypted tunnel for all internet traffic. This means that even if someone is snooping the connection, they won't be able to get hold of the sensitive information you provide while connected to the VPN.

The DrSoft VPN will help you secure online banking even when you're connected to public WiFi networks.

10. Consider banking alternatives for online transactions

One way to keep your main bank account safe in the digital world is to avoid using it too much for online transactions. Especially when you're shopping or sending money over a website you never used before and you're not sure it can be trusted with your credit card details.

For this matter, you can register for a banking alternative - mobile-only banks that are providing a quick and easy banking experience. You can manage everything from an amazing mobile app, and they have no or really low fees. A couple of examples of such alternatives are Monese, Revolut, Kuda, and Monzo. I won't advise you to trust these apps with huge amounts of money, but they are really useful to keep your bank account safe. When you're making an online payment, add the amount of money you need to the digital card and pay through that instead of giving up the credentials to your main bank account.

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