Online banking is extremely convenient – being able to log in and check your account balance, make payments and transfers all without having to visit an actual branch is a huge time saver. To be honest, it’s probably been a couple of months since I last went to a bank and that was only to withdraw cash for international travel! Now, with the advent of new banks in recent years without any retail/storefront presence, it’s the only way to interact with your money!
Unfortunately, with all of the positives, there are also some negatives that you need to keep in mind – to protect yourself – when banking online.
Install Security and VPN software
Protect your financial transactions by installing up to date security software and VPN tools. With VPN, your transactions will be encrypted making it next to impossible for hackers to gain access to your information. Norton WiFi Privacy incorporates some key features to protect you when browsing public WiFi networks & other tools like Bitdefender and Kaspersky have specific modules that launch financial transactions in a hardened sandbox like environment – separating these processes from others running on your computer. Avast, AVG and Avira both offer bank modes in their AV protection as well.
Your password along with your account number is your identity when banking online. Unlike bank branches where your photo ID can be verified each time, with online banking, if someone manages to gain access to your password, they literally have an open door to all of the funds in your account.
Your best defense here is to use a strong password – this means one that is a mix of numbers, letters, and special characters – and not a simple and easy to guess word or name. The more complex you can make it the better – just make sure that it is something you can remember as you do not want to leave a written note behind!
Stay away from public WiFi
When banking online – do not use public WiFi. I’ve already gone into quite a bit of detail about the dangers of public WiFi in general, but the main point to recall is the risk of Man-in-the-Middle hackers, that are able to steal the information you are broadcasting to the Internet. VPN and Security Software can help, but it is still best to use your mobile data allowance if you must access your banks site from a public location as this is harder to hack.
Use Two Factor Authentication
Most of the bigger banks offer two-factor authentication – this is when you use a second device (often a smartphone) to verify your identity – and you should enable this feature if it’s available to you. While this does somewhat slow down the process of logging into your account, having it enabled lets you rest easy, knowing that only you can access your information.