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Practice Safe Online Banking

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Online banking, also called Internet banking or e-banking, is defined as using a computer or other type of technology (mobile phone, tablet, etc.) for banking services, such as conducting financial transactions. This type of banking is convenient and efficient, and it simplifies your finance management immensely. Long gone are the days of lingering statements and papers. Now, everything is on your computer or mobile device, right at your fingertips, at any time of the day or night.

While this type of banking is evidently the most convenient way to manage your finances, it can also pose some risks. In fact, according to US News, hackers have cost companies and consumers somewhere between a staggering $375 billion and $575 billion. And that just continues to increase.

“[Financial institutions] have become very proactive in protecting accounts from hackers, but it’s still quite a large problem,” says Sean Sullivan, a security adviser at F-Secure, an Internet security firm. “We see all types of new attempts every day.”

The good news: You can protect yourself and your assets.

To reduce your odds of being hacked, follow these steps:

  • Avoid clicking on suspicious links - Especially ones related to bank account updates. Phishing is a popular hacker move in which hackers send out what appears to be a legitimate email from your bank asking you to update your account information. There’s usually a link that follows, stating it’s the bank’s website. It’ll take you to what looks exactly like the bank’s website, but it will be a fake one, and thieves are able to record any data you enter. If you really do need to update your account, always type the financial institution website manually into the search bar. And if you receive any of these suspicious links or emails, be sure to call your financial institution to confirm whether they really sent it.
  • Create complex passwords - There’s a reason most websites call for case-sensitive passwords or ones with numbers or symbols. A typical method scammers use to hack into bank accounts is simply guessing a user’s password. Using a strong password decreases the chance that a hacker can easily figure it out and log in to your account. In an analysis done of 32 million passwords by Imperva, an Internet and data security company, it was found that the top 10 passwords are as follows: 123456, 12345, 123456789, Password, iloveyou, princess, rockyou, 1234567, 12345678 and abc123. These make it easy for hackers to get into your account, so it’s important to avoid using these or any similar variations. If you’re using one of these or something similar, consider changing it. Keep in mind that the best passwords are ones that use both letters and numerals and both lowercase and uppercase characters. Also, avoid using the same password for multiple accounts.
  • Utilize anti-virus protection - “The most important thing consumers can do to protect themselves is to practice safe computing at home,” says Greg Hernandez, a spokesman for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. in Washington, D.C. “They should use a firewall and anti-virus/anti-malware software and keep it updated.”Not only will this help you protect against common viruses like trojans and worms that can use keystrokes and other strategies to access your bank information, but it will also discourage hackers from attempting to violate your credentials.
  • One tip: Set up your protection software so that it automatically updates daily. That way you won’t forget to do it when needed. 
  • Avoid oversharing on social media - Be wary about what you post to the world on your social media accounts, like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others.“The way social media accounts are accessed leaves users vulnerable,” explains Larry Bridwell, global security strategist at Sticky Password. “When updating your status or posting a picture to Instagram, users may have to access an open Wi-Fi network. However, they may find themselves falling prey to hackers who utilize open Wi-Fi networks to gain access and information into accounts. Of course, you should never post personal information such as your Social Security number, bank account numbers, usernames or passwords, but even small things, like your pet’s name, your mother’s maiden name or the high school you attended, can backfire, as these are common answers to security questions to access accounts.
  • Don’t use public computers or Wi-Fi - If a scammer got hold of a public computer and installed software that can record your keystrokes, he or she can likely hack into your account if you use the computer for banking. Hotels, airports, cafes, you name it—hackers are likely preying there, waiting to grab your banking information.

“Public Wi-Fi is inherently unsecure. Anyone using it ought to do so with the premise that everything you do is visible to a third-party stranger with access to that hot spot,” says Kevin Clark, former first assistant prosecutor and expert in cybercrime. “The chances of you being hacked far exceeds the chances of your home being burglarized. This is a big business.”

  • For more tips on safe and secure online banking, contact us or stop by today.

Includes copyrighted material of IMakeNews, Inc. and its suppliers. All content contained in this newsletter is for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon to make any financial, accounting, tax, legal or other related decisions. Each person must consider his or her objectives, risk tolerances and level of comfort when making financial decisions and should consult a competent professional advisor prior to making any such decisions. Any opinions expressed through the content in this newsletter are the opinions of the particular author only.