Cybersecurity Considerations for Online Bill Payment

Many people pay their bills digitally since sending secure online payments is much more convenient than writing a check or waiting at the bank. However, most don’t realize the potential risks. Here are a few online payment security methods that use cybersecurity best practices.

1. Be Careful When Linking Accounts

Most online payment apps allow you to link your account to make paying bills more convenient, but you should be wary of this function since it’s often unsafe. Even if the original app has excellent security, cybercriminals may be able to exploit the linked platform’s vulnerabilities.

They could easily breach the other platform’s data storage system to get your information. Online shopping had the second-highest fraud reports in 2022, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

You give hackers a better chance to get around your online payment security when you connect your accounts since they gain more access points. Over 50% of people paying bills online use a mobile app to handle their transactions, making them popular targets.

2. Use Multifactor Authentication

Have you ever had to confirm a login attempt on your phone after trying to sign in somewhere new? That process is called multifactor authentication — when you get a code sent through text, email or an app to ensure no one else is trying to access your account.

It’s one of the best online payment security methods because it’s failsafe. Even if scammers or cybercriminals get ahold of the login credentials to someone’s payment portal, MFA prevents them from signing in. It also gives the person enough time to update their passwords, blocking future attempts.

3. Create Strong Passwords

Although most people know passwords should be lengthy and complex, many don’t bother to follow through — it’s much easier to remember a particular date or pet name than a string of random characters. Still, this cybersecurity best practice is incredibly effective.

In January 2023, hackers accessed thousands of PayPal users’ accounts using stolen credentials. Even the most secure mobile payment apps on the market are vulnerable. In this situation, strong passwords would’ve protected them.

Cybercriminals often brute force their way into your account once they have your email or username. Many use bots, allowing them to complete dozens of login attempts in mere minutes. They try common phrases or strings of text — like dates, words or names — to get in faster. Random characters can secure your online payments.

4. Only Use Trusted Platforms

Cybercriminals often create fake payment portals to try and trick people into giving up their login credentials. Whenever logging in or downloading an app, verify it’s official to ensure online payment security. Ensure websites use SSL — look for an “s” at the end of “http” in the address — to ensure it’s safe.

5. Verify All Communication

Scammers often pose as financial institutions or official banking apps to get people’s account information. Phishing scams are among the most common threats to people who pay their bills online. They’re hard to recognize, meaning the cybercriminals are often successful.

Verify all texts, emails and notifications before you click on or respond to anything. Email or call them separately from the original thread if you want to be safe. Official online bill payment sites usually won’t ask you to share personal or login information.

This is one of the easiest online payment security methods since most people have already trained themselves to never click on suspicious links. However, technology like spoofing or generative artificial intelligence can make it challenging to spot — many phishing messages are now free of misspellings and grammar mistakes.

6. Change Passwords

Even though reusing the same passwords is convenient, updating them regularly is much more secure. Banks are one of the top targets for hackers, so they often get breached. As a result, your financial and personal information ends up floating around on the internet for anyone to access.

Even if your password appears in a leak, you can protect yourself and your money by changing them routinely. Update them once every few months at a minimum — and don’t reuse old ones — to ensure no one can use them to access your accounts.

Also, you should use unique passwords for every online payment account to be more secure. For example, consider what would happen if someone could access your PayPal, Cash App and bank because you used the same login credentials for each — they could drain your savings and any money you store in the apps.

7. Only Use Secure Networks

Unsecured networks — like public Wi-Fi — are vulnerable to cyberattacks, meaning you are if you use them. For example, a hacker could hijack your connection to an online payment portal with a man-in-the-middle attack, showing you a fake version to steal your information.

For genuine online payment security, only use secured networks for financial transactions. If you’re unsure if a connection is safe, stick to what you know — use your home Wi-Fi. Waiting to send your paycheck to the bank and being safe is much better than doing it immediately and risking theft.

8. Use a Credit Card

Use one credit card for all your online transactions to protect your accounts. It’s a secure online payment method, and you can quickly get reimbursed if someone manages to defraud you. Plus, it could take up to two months to reverse fraudulent charges and get your money back into your account.

Secure Your Online Payments

Following cybersecurity best practices when digitally paying bills ensures secure online payments. Many cybercriminals would love to get their hands on your account data and drain your savings, so consider implementing these to protect yourself.