When was the last time you visited a bank branch in person? Probably never in the past one year. Well, you are not alone. Online banking has made life so easier. As habitual internet users, we never have to step into a bank branch to update the account statement, apply for checks, make fund transfers, withdraw money or even pay bills.
While it may sound extremely convenient, online banking has its own downsides too. In fact, it is threatened by a several types of cyber security crimes that makes online banking a risky affair. It is not meant for someone who are not aware of the dark side of the internet.
If you are unaware of the most common types of threats, here is a quick overview about them.
The most common threat types include:
- Trojan horses
- Fake websites
Spoofing is a form of fooling the user by using a fake IP number of email address that looks identical to a genuine source.
Phishing is the mechanism by which user credentials are hijacked. They are again executed using spoof emails or fake websites.
Trojan horses are malicious files which get downloaded in the user system. They leak the user’s sensitive information by recording their keystrokes and relaying them back to hackers.
Fake websites, websites which look, feel and even interact the same way as genuine websites. They steal the user credentials and then use it to control the user account.
Security tips to safeguard yourself
Cyber security threats cannot be entirely wiped away. They will continue to grow in intensity and diversity. The onus is upon you to take proactive measures that will safeguard you from the threats.
Here are some online banking security tips that come to your aid:
Keep your credentials confidential
Your account number, customer ID, login username and password – all these constitute your online banking credentials. These credentials should not be shared with anyone else for any reason.
Of course, there could be times when you do not have an option but share them with your partner, parents or employees. In such instances, ensure that such users exercise caution while using your credentials. They should not be publicly displayed, spelled or even displayed.
Ensure system safety
The laptop/PC and the mobile devices that you use must be secure to transact online banking. It should have the basic security measures in place like an antivirus software, vulnerability assessment tools and a firewall.
A firewall is a turnkey software that regulates the traffic to and from your network. It also helps keeping your information exchange safe from being intercepted by hackers or snooping programs.
Look for website certificate
How do you know that the bank’s website that you are dealing with is really your bank’s website? How to identify whether the website is a fake one or one that smart hackers have impeccably created to trap you?
An EV SSL certificate can help you spot the fake from the real one. Every website secured with a SSL certificate will have a green address bar and a padlock symbol. Clicking on the padlock symbol will open a dropbox with a certificate option in it. If the website has a certificate, it can be considered to be genuine. EV SSL certificates follow the highest form of security standards which makes it literally impossible for hackers to replicate.
Check your account regularly
A simple way to ensure that your account is not misused is by keeping a regular tab on your account activity. Make it a habit to visit your bank statement every week to review the debits and credits. If you observe any unusual activity, intimate the bank immediately.
As a precautionary measure, you can also set up mobile alerts that will notify you when there is some activity in your account. Text alerts can be configured for failed login attempts, withdrawals, charges, credits and so on.
Use 2-factor authentication
Two-factor authentication or 2FA is a security protocol that requires uses to input two different security identities – 1) which they already know, 2) a OTP shared as a text message. 2FA ensures that even if a password is lost or stolen, hackers still do not have access to your account.
Most banks, by default follow the 2FA but in various forms. They want you to input the OTP for accessing your account profile, make a wire transfer or even add a new beneficiary. Adhering to the 2FA protocol will save you plenty of time and effort.
Change passwords frequently
This is a no-brainer. Still, most of us use passwords that were created for email ids created while in school. Passwords have an expiration date. They can be used for a maximum period of 6 months. Beyond that you must change them so that your accounts remain inaccessible.
Also, practice password hygiene. Ensure that passwords have a minimum character length, have a combination of alphanumeric characters, do not resemble any of your name, mobile or vehicle numbers, etc. The idea is to create a tough password that is difficult to guess or crack.
In a nutshell
All it takes one simple mistake to lose all your hard-earned money. Online banking and cyber crimes can cause severe losses to your personal finance if you do not set up proper security measures. Simple steps like setting a strong password, checking accounts regularly, using a secure system, keeping your credentials confidential can go a long way. It will help you enjoy all the goodness of online banking without causing any ruckus.