How to Secure Online Banking?

Everyone uses online banking these days. It’s as easy as breathing. You can buy anything just a few keystrokes on your laptop or smartphone. You can pay for goods and services using bank apps or digital wallets like Zelle or PayPal. Debit cards are becoming a relic, given how easy and safe online payments seem. 

People hardly think about secure online banking because most assume financial institutions take proper measures to safeguard their customers’ funds. Indeed, reputable banks tend to have hefty budgets to achieve online security. But the cold, hard fact is that bad actors are always lurking online, looking to scam you out of funds. Sometimes they can do so with only a couple of keystrokes.

Banks are some of the world’s largest holders of Personally Identifiable Information (PII). A single data breach can prove catastrophic. That’s why many banks and credit unions have taken proactive stances. 

They implement stringent policies for employees and customers to ensure a safer online environment. Some of the most popular actions include firewalls, powerful antiviruses, software dedicated to fraud monitoring, web encryption, and more. 

Despite prevention being the name of the game nowadays, many financial institutions still make headlines(and not the good kind). These incidents don’t typically happen because their online security is weak. 

Instead, data breaches, theft, and fraud often occur because of human error. Phishing scams and social engineering are valuable tools for hackers, especially if they want to infiltrate a bank’s security framework.

In this blog post, we’ll run down the basics of online bank security. You’ll learn about common online threats and how to build effective defenses against them. Ready? Let’s dive deep into secure online banking!

 

Look Out for Phishing

Phishing is the quintessential online attack and the top choice of many hackers. It’s often a cause of concern for a bank’s cybersecurity department. Phishing attacks usually trick customers into giving up their PII, allowing bad actors to access their accounts. 

Phishing takes countless forms, so it can be challenging to keep track of them all. Here are two of the most popular methods used by malicious cyber actors:

Website Redirects from Bank Alerts/Emails

The following scenarios are all too common.

In the first one, you get an email from your bank asking for the personal information you must provide via email for ‘security reasons.’ 

The message can be well-worded and include a lot of technical jargon. It can even inform you about something related to a security breach and the need to update your login information using a link provided.

Whatever you do next, it’s best to take some time and assess the situation. Don’t provide personal information to your bank via email. Ever. The golden rule in secure online banking is that no financial institution ever asks their customers for data via email. 

Banks also never send links of any kind in their messages. Most institutions offer their updates in writing and invite you to visit their online platform using traditional means: Their website or app.

The second scenario presents itself when you use the bank’s website. If you introduce your login data on the usual landing page and suddenly get sent back to that page again, it’s best to be cautious. 

Many hackers can mask specific URLs and redirect you to a lookalike page where you unwittingly provide your data for them to harvest. The same thing can happen with weak banking apps. 

Hackers can disrupt their system and send security alerts to make you log in to your bank and steal your PII. The good news is that banks typically try to be on par with new scams. Still, being informed and staying vigilant is paramount to online safety. 

Never click on links from suspicious emails. If you’re unsure, use our Phishing URL checker tool to determine whether a URL is legitimate or not. You can also ask your bank whether email communication is secured with DMARC, an email authentication protocol designed to prevent phishing, spoofing, and spam emails from reaching recipient inboxes. Most reputable financial institutions have adopted this vital email security standard.  

Angler Phishing Practices

Social networks have become a staple of the internet. Banks institutions are no strangers to modernity and have embraced these platforms to nurture communications with customers. 

However, bad actors take advantage of this by creating fake accounts that rarely look any different from the original. People trying to contact their financial institution can easily fall victim to these fraudulent pages via angler phishing attacks.

It can also happen the other way around. A fraudster can pose as a representative of your bank to inform you about a security issue and steal your sensitive data. 

The best way to avoid angler phishing attacks is to make sure you’re communicating with a verified bank representative. If they don’t share a social network on their website, it’s likely because they don’t have a presence on it.  

Never offer personal information related to your bank account or financial products to anyone on social networks. Nobody working at a bank will ever ask for that kind of data online, especially using an insecure channel like a social media platform. 

A bank’s customer service agent on social media usually redirects you to the main website to help you solve an issue.

 

Use a Bank with Proper Data Security Practices

When choosing a bank, looking for the best deal regarding financial products and offerings is understandable. You should pick one that makes secure online banking a top priority. The following is a brief list of the most common security protocols any bank should have in place:

MFA

Multifactor authentication is becoming a natural trend for solid online bank security. A bank can no longer rely on a simple username and password to grant access to its platform. This applies to both users and employees. Any form of MFA adds an extra layer of security to your bank account and all data it contains: A PIN, an SMS with a security code, or a push notification—any of them will do. 

Encryption

Modern secure online banking requires Secure Socket Layers (SSL) of 2048-bits. All online sessions, including transactions, should be made with 128-bit or 256-bit data encryption. If your bank lacks these features, its security is not updated to current standards. 

Fraud Prevention Monitoring

Banks can use many software options for fraud prevention monitoring in secure online banking. These programs monitor your account activity at all times to identify any sign of fraud. The software analyzes data in real-time and sends alerts based on the behavioral nature of your bank habits.

Take Proactive Steps to Stay Safe Online

Even the best online bank security won’t mean much if you’re not taking proactive steps. Here are a few ways to stay safe in the cyberworld:

Use Strong Login Credentials

Creating robust login credentials doesn’t call for quick decisions or a radical imagination. Being overtly creative can lead to forgetfulness. You can keep it simple and throw hackers off their game simultaneously. 

Many banks require usernames. Opt for something unique that’s also not obvious.

Usernames can be as complex as picking a combined word with a number, using elements you’ll easily remember. Never use your full name, though. 

Regarding passwords, forming a short sentence of two or three words usually works better than a mishmash of letters that can be lost in your memory. Use caps and special characters to make it more unique. But never use names or dates as passwords. They’re easy to guess and crack.

VPNs

Public WiFi is notoriously unsafe and an easy gateway for bad actors to steal your login credentials. Even your WiFi can be unsecured. If you work online in public or travel frequently, investing in a Virtual Private Network is best. A reputable VPN can hide your IP address, masking your online activity. That way, bad actors lurking nearby will have a difficulty hacking your devices. 

Password Managers

Password managers are handy tools for online bank security. They take away the hassle of remembering passwords each time you want to access your accounts. You don’t even need to create a new password since the software can handle this process. Although Google has this feature built-in, there are better, safer options on the market that can be configured to change your passwords regularly.

 

Final Thoughts

Securing your online banking activity isn’t the sole responsibility of your bank. Of course, financial institutions must ensure the security of their platforms while protecting your money and data by any means necessary. 

However, your bank’s security can only take you so far. It’s up to you to take proactive steps to keep cybercriminals at bay.

Only use digital financial services with solid cybersecurity profiles. Always be on the lookout for phishing attempts, and make sure your chosen provider secures emails with authentication protocols like DMARC. 

MFA, encryption, and fraud monitoring are also crucial security features. Do your part to keep your banking activity safe. You can have a more secure online banking experience by creating strong login credentials, investing in a VPN, and using a password manager

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