This month is National Cybersecurity Awarenes Month — and as such, it’s time to dicuss one of the most vulnarable activities all of us regularly conduct online: banking.
It’s only rational for you to be worried about your online bank accounts. This past spring a group of hackers stole nearly $81 million from the Bangladesh central bank – and potentially many more financial institutions based in Asia. And while U.S. place a huge emphasis on security to ensure that a similar event doesn’t devastate their customers, the key to maintaining the integrity of your online and mobile accounts is to be proactive. Here’s a few tips to get you there.
If you’re worried that your online bank accounts may get hacked one day – ask yourself a few questions.
How often do you check your bank account balances and credit card statements? Once a month? At the end of the day? Would you rather your bank notify you of a hack moths after the fact – or would you rather catch a fraudulent charge yourself? The sooner you detect a breach and report it to your bank, the better your chances of recovering any lost money on your end. Plus, it’s always a good idea to have an idea of your financial standing on a regular basis.
Passwords, Passwords, Passwords
If you have multiple bank accounts do not under any circumstance use the same password for both. A hacker who manages to access one account will likely use that information to gain access to your email, and from there, they’ll be privy to all the different banks you use. Can you imagine if both or all of your bank accounts were targeted and/or bled of funds?
A password manager can help you keep track of all of your different passwords – and moreover, help you create passcodes which a very difficult to crack, and remind you to change them at a regular interval. Every month would be a great habit to establish but every four or six months is a good goal, too.
Enable Two-Factor Authentication.
When you log into your bank through a mobile app, are you asked to log in more than once? In other words, do you use a password and a pin and/or a personal security question? It’s a smart move, if you do. Check with your bank to see if its online site supports two-factor authentication. Most banks will have you setup an email or phone number to that connects to your device, and will issue you an ever-changing code to plug in when you try to log on from a device it doesn’t recognize.
Don’t Trust All Your Emails and Every Website
A trustworthy bank will never ask you to share personal banking information via email. Never, ever give your Social Security number to anyone online. If a site asks for it during the checkout process, it’s probably a scam site. Look for a small padlock icon somewhere on your browser and check the address bar – the URL of the site you are on should begin with ‘https’. Both act as confirmation that you are accessing your account over a safe, encrypted connection.
Keep Your Devices Up to Date
As a minimum, make sure you have a firewall turned on and are running antivirus software on all of your devices: desktop, laptop, tablet, and smartphone. Generally, the manufacturer of your device will issue you automatic updates. It’s your job to hit “yes” to enable those updates as soon as you get the pop-up notification.
Hold Your Credit Card Issuer Accountable
Did you know credit card issuers offer free and automatic identify-theft protection to customers? That’s one advantage credit cards have over debit cards . If you notice an erroneous charge on your statement – dispute it. Your credit card company is required by law to investigate the charge and reimburse you.
Furthermore, most banks offer customers the option to set up text or email notifications to alert them about certain activities on their account. So, if you don’t usually make charges on your card more than $50 – you can set an alert whenever your card charges more than $50 in a single go. It’s a very quick and easy way for you to be made aware of any fishy activity on your account.
One of the benefits of online banking is zero paper trail. No longer do you need to shred your statements with account numbers and other personally identifiable information! It’s all online! In fact, the benefits greatly outweigh the cons in terms of simplicity and organization. Plus, now that you’ve got these tips under your belt – you really won’t have to worry much by way of security. Rest-assured, you’re doing everything you can do to stay safe online.