5 Top Tips for Safer Online Banking
Online banking is great- so convenient, and user friendly. But, like everything in life, it comes with certain risks. Just as using ATMs comes with the risk of having a card cloned, or of the user being robbed, so too, online banking comes with the risk of leaving the user vulnerable to attack, just this time it is of the cyber variety. Follow these 5 top tips to minimise financial risks, and help ensure that you are safer when banking online:
- Ensure your computer software, including any antivirus programs are up to date
Whatever you use your computer for, up to date security and antiviral software are essential. With an activated firewall, and up to date operating systems you can ensure that there are no security holes, and so you and your personal information are safe, and protected from hackers, Trojans and keyloggers.
- Do not logon to online banking accounts in WIFI hotspots
Only log in to your online bank account from a computer and network that you know are safe, and that you can trust. WIFI hotspots are public, and this can leave you and your financial information open to attack.
- Use VPNs
At all times it is best practise to use a virtual private network (VPN), but this is even more important if you want to be able to access your online bank account from remote locations, that you can’t be sure are safe, or trustworthy. VPNs enable you to establish an encrypted internet connection to your work, or home network, and therefore allow you to access your bank account from there. To make certain that the websites that you are accessing are safe, and being accessed via an encrypted connection always make sure that there is a small padlock icon on your browser, and that the sites you are on have an URL that starts with ‘https’.
- Monitor accounts regularly
Just as we used to monitor our physical bank accounts regularly to ensure that they were safe and had not been violated, we must also monitor our online bank accounts. Good practise is to check online bank account statements at least every month to assess whether any unauthorised transactions have occurred. To be extra safe, I would recommend checking online bank accounts on a weekly basis, especially as we all have 24/7 access, as this can help you to spot account anomalies, and get them sorted out rapidly.
- Always create strong passwords
This is often overlooked by people who bank online. However, it is essential. If your online bank account requires a user-generated password in order to access accounts, then make sure yours is super strong. To do this, ensure that your password contains a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters, and that it is long- to minimise the risk of people guessing it. Also ensure that you avoid using common phrases, or words that could be easily deciphered, and never use your name, initials of date of birth. As an extra precaution, aim to change your bank account password regularly- every few months is ideal. If you are worried that you might forget your passwords then why not consider using a password manager?