5 Tips for a Safe Online Banking Experience

Partly because of physical restrictions but mostly due to convenience, online banking is now part of our daily norm. In a 2021 report, security website SecurityInfoWatch shared that online banking usage is now at an all-time high of 85%. That said, over one-third of Americans have admitted to not employing the necessary precautions online.

Though the security of online banking continues to evolve daily, the tactics and sophistication of cybercriminals are, too. With TechJury sharing that over 63% of all cybercrime is financially motivated, here are some useful tips you can practice to safeguard your online banking experience.

1. Only use secure or private Wi-Fi networks

Public or free Wi-Fi may seem tempting, but it opens you up to everyone else who can access it. Cybercriminals can intercept information like passwords, card details, social security numbers, and usernames via a public connection. So, when out and about, it’s always best practice to use your mobile data or to have a virtual private network (VPN). Otherwise, save your browsing and banking for when you’re in the privacy of your own home, using your Wi-Fi.

2. Use apps or digital wallets

Malware can be unwittingly downloaded on basically every device that can access the Internet. However, this keystroke-tracking software most often targets personal computers or laptops. As such, instead of doing your banking on the bank’s official website, you may be better off on a digital wallet or app via your mobile device. As explained by finance resource AskMoney, digital wallets are often designed to be highly secure, with the most pertinent data encrypted. Most apps and digital wallets are also enabled with extra security features, like automatic log-outs if you’ve been idle for too long. In addition, digital wallets and apps have a lower risk of being compromised even if you lose your device since you can remotely freeze or disable them.

3. Never share your personal details

As previously mentioned here on CyberExperts, identity theft is one of the most common cybersecurity threats. The banking sector is estimated to lose over $10 million to identity theft annually. To avoid this, never share or upload your banking details and personal information online. Even if you think you’re just sending your data to a trusted relative, this is now information that a savvy hacker can access. You should also be careful about the seemingly non-consequential personal information you post publicly. For instance, your social media posts about your child’s birthday or your tribute to your pet can be used to bypass banking security questions. If you must share your personal details, make sure you’re on a secure site with privacy settings enabled.

4. Sign up for regular alerts

You may find it bothersome to get alerts and notifications, but these can drastically reduce the chances of fraudulent purchases being charged to your account. By staying updated regarding your online banking transactions, you have a virtual paper trail that will show you if any unauthorized purchases or withdrawals have been made. Depending on your online banking provider, you can sign up for text or email alerts. They can also be tailored so that they are only sent to you in certain events like if a large transaction is being made or if your balance is lower than normal.

5. Enable multifactor authentication and passwords

According to online publication ZDNet, one in every 142 passwords is still 123456. In fact, a 2020 study of one billion leaked credentials revealed that seven million of these used the aforementioned password. Conversely, 99.9% of all cyberattacks have successfully been blocked by multifactor authentication (MFA) involving powerful passwords. That said, make sure your password doesn’t have any personal connection to you, is at least 14 characters long, and has a variety of letters and symbols. On top of this, you should also turn on your MFA just to add a layer of security before granting access to your account.

Online banking is safe, fast, and reliable. However, it’s not impenetrable. Hence, users are still responsible for making sure their data is safe, and cybercriminals have no gaps to squeeze through. After all, banking has always been a two-way street involving the bank and its clients.

For more cybersecurity tips and news updates, check out the rest of our content on the CyberExperts website.

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Donald Korinchak, MBA, PMP, CISSP, CASP, ITILv3

Donald Korinchak is a Cybersecurity Professional in the Washington DC area. Donald holds an MBA from the University of Pittsburgh Katz School of Business. Donald is considered a thought leader in business, leadership, and cybersecurity issues.

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