It used to be that going to the bank was the only option to withdraw and manage your money. While physical banks are still alive nowadays, online banking has definitely made banking transactions more convenient.
Online banking websites and apps, however, have become a favorite target of hackers, ID thieves, and cybercrooks. Banks are always on the lookout for suspicious activity, and you should be as well. Do the six things below to increase your online banking security against malicious users, prevent your bank from unintentionally locking you out, and generally stay safer online.
Online banking security: Use strong passwords
Using a single password on multiple websites is an open invitation for hackers. It only takes a breached password from less secure sites to give cybercriminals the ability to access all your online accounts, including your bank accounts.
Never use the same password for all sites that you visit. I suggest that you use one of these password managers. These tools will generate strong, random, unique passwords, then store your passwords so you won’t have to remember them all.
Online banking security: Use a VPN
Banks will shut down your account if they fear someone (other than you) is trying to log into your account. One sign of fraudulent activity is that someone is accessing your account from an unusual location.
You could actually trigger the lockout yourself if you’re traveling to another country, but you failed to give advance notice to your bank that you will access your account from that country. One way to prevent alerting your bank is to spoof your virtual location with a VPN. Get a high-quality VPN provider with a VPN server in your original home to make it appear that you’re still accessing your banking account from home. This is our top VPN right now:
[affilioProvider max=”1″ top=”n” cat=’home’]
While I don’t suggest accessing your bank account through a public Wi-Fi network, if you can’t avoid it, a VPN will be absolutely necessary in this situation. Yes, this includes the ‘totally’ safe Wi-Fi at your hotel. Online scammers love preying on vacationers as they let their guards down and open their bank accounts up by opening fake Wi-Fi and doing a man in the middle attack.
Online banking security: Use two-factor authentication
Many websites use two-step authentication (2FA) when you log in. This usually involves your phone and the SMS service to verify that you are the one signing into your account. Even if your bank doesn’t require this, take advantage of any 2FA methods available. Here’s a list of banking websites which use 2FA, so you can decide if you want to use them.
Online banking security: Secure your email and phone number
If you’re not careful with your email account and phone number, somebody may get access to them and possess vital information to impersonate you. It’s imperative then to secure your email by using strong passwords, enabling two-factor authentication, and more.
It would also be best if you secure your mobile phone with two-factor authentication, PIN or locks, and more.
Online banking security: Look out for phishing sites
While strong passwords and 2FA will help you get started on having online banking security, you will still be subjecting yourself to high risks if you unknowingly give your login credentials to phishing sites.
When you enter your password or the second-factor code to such fake sites, an impersonator may use your credentials to enter the real banking website to gain access to your account. Always check the website’s URL before you enter any of your login credentials.
Online banking security: Lock your account
If you suspect someone is illegally accessing your account, do not hesitate to contact your bank to request restrictions. For instance, you may disable phone banking or ask your mobile carrier to make things difficult for anybody to port your phone number or make another PIN.
If worse comes to worst, you may also request your bank to lock down your account for a certain period until conditions become safe.
Protect your online banking account
While banks and financial institutions have set up strict security measures, in many cases, it will be up to you to make a move, or you risk losing banking access or money.
By following the steps above, you’ll significantly improve your online banking security and give yourself some peace of mind. You won’t be impenetrable, you still have to use common sense and be smart, but you’ll make it much harder for someone to hack you or steal your account information.