Increasingly, citizens today are now turning to online banking, rather than completing their banking transactions at physical banks or face-to-face with a teller. The ease and convenience of online banking and new features such as mobile check deposit have made it more convenient than ever to use your financial institution’s online offerings.
However, as with most technologies, we can never be certain that our data and our money is entirely safe. In 2016 alone there were 454 data breaches that exposed over 12 million individual records. Furthermore, four out of five victims of a data breach don’t even know they were attacked for a week or more. Knowing where online banking risks lie and reviewing your accounts regularly can vastly improve the safety of your online data. There are ways to protect against identity theft.
Specifically, there are several steps you can take to increase the security of your money online. Use these five tips to get the most out of your online banking with less anxiety and risk.
- Choose a strong password and change it regularly.
Most banking institutions have upped their minimum requirements for password strength, making it less likely someone could access your account. However, you should continue to use different passwords for each online login and change your passwords regularly. To help you keep track of these, you might consider using a password protection app, which acts as a secure storage unit for all your passwords in one location. Never share your password with anyone and never store your password on your computer or device.
- Don’t click through emails.
Even if an email seems to legitimately come from your banking institution, avoid following links in the email. Instead, go through your browser or mobile app to access your account. This eliminates your account breach risk through phishing or fraudulent emails all together – these types of attacks have become increasingly sophisticated and it can often be difficult to tell whether a site you visit through a link is legitimate or not.If an email looks suspicious or you just aren’t certain, you can always report it to your bank or call them to verify the message. They are usually happy to allay your fears and are interested to know whether their brand is being used in a phishing scam. Never provide any account or identification information through email.
- Consider adding two-step authentication to your banking accounts.
An increasing number of financial institutions are offering two factor authentication to minimise unauthorised online account access. These types of login authorisations require you to input two pieces of information, generally a code that is sent via email or text in addition to your password. Another option is to use a third-party service for direct debit payments, eliminating the need to even login to your online account to complete transactions such as automatic payments.
- Keep your computer, browser, and mobile apps up to date.
Confirming that you’re always running the latest version of any software you’re using to access your accounts will ensure that you’re protected with the latest security updates as well. Make sure your computer is running quality anti-virus protection and you’re regularly checking for updates. You can easily set your system to do regular automatic scans so you’ll be certain to be protected.
- Only access your account through secure networks.
While public Wi-Fi is everywhere these days, you should think twice before logging into your financial accounts in these locations. Most public Wi-Fi systems are relatively insecure and it is not difficult for hackers to access your account information when you log on using these networks.Instead, use your banking institution’s mobile app (if available) to access accounts on the go – these apps generally have higher levels of security built in and don’t require you to input information to log in. Be sure to use secure Wi-Fi when logging in at home or consider using a virtual private network (VPN) which allows you to use an encrypted connection no matter where you are.
Online banking doesn’t have to be a risky endeavour. By taking active steps to protect your data, making smart choices about when and how you access your banking accounts, and diligently reviewing your accounts regularly, you can protect yourself from online banking risks.