Is Online Banking Safe?
Online banking has become so prevalent these days that some banks only exist on the Internet. You may be surprised to learn that online banking has actually been around for more than 25 years now. Since then, online banking has exploded in terms of options and availability. And along with that, security has drastically improved.
We all know the dangers of identity theft and what can happen if someone with bad intentions were to get a hold of our online banking information. To protect their customers, online banks have adopted policies to ensure their accounts are secure, including firewalls, encryption, and fraud monitoring.
Of course, there are also some key things you can do on your end to make online banking even safer.
How Can You Protect Yourself When Online Banking?
It’s important to take proper safety precautions when you bank online. There are a few steps you can take to ensure that hackers and scammers can’t access your banking accounts:
- Don’t Use Public Wi-Fi: Public Wi-Fi can be incredibly helpful if you need to peruse the internet when you’re out and about. However, you shouldn’t do your online banking on public Wi-Fi. It’s not as secure as your own private network, and people with the know-how could potentially gain access to any private information you transmit over a public server.
- Keep Your Security Software Up to Date: This means any antivirus or anti-malware software that your computer uses. Those anti-virus and anti-malware warnings and updates that periodically pop up? Don’t ignore them. They often contain very important security updates that can help keep you safe.
- Choose Your Password Thoughtfully: Don’t use a password that you use on other sites. To make it as safe and secure as possible, create a password that isn’t easy to guess—avoid using something like your kindergarten teacher’s name or your favorite food. Your password should include a mix of unrelated letters and symbols.
- Change Your Password Regularly: Online banking passwords should be updated yearly, if not sooner. This precaution can help ensure that if your information ever is compromised, you’ll already be using a new password that the scammer doesn’t know.
- Consider Using a Password Manager: If you’re worried about remembering a complicated online banking password, there are several trusted password managers that you can use to securely keep your passwords organized.
- Turn Banking Notifications On: On many bank websites, you can turn on notifications for certain transactions in the “settings” section of your profile. For example, you can turn on a notification that’ll alert you if there’s a large withdrawal from your account.
You can also research your bank’s security policies to make sure they are taking the appropriate measures. The online security measures to look for include:
- Multi-Factor Verification: This is a security measure that comes into play when you’re logging into an account. With single-factor verification, it will ask for your username and password. Multi-factor verification adds another layer. Typically, this is something like a code that will be texted to your phone for you to input online, making it incredibly hard for someone to fraudulently access your account.
- Up-to-Date Antivirus Protection: Banks need to have the best and strongest anti-virus and anti-malware protection. This information should be available on their website to let you know what they’re using.
- Biometrics: Biometrics include things like fingerprint authentication or a scan of your eye to prove that you are who you say you are. Some banks even use voice and facial recognition software.
- Secure Encryptions: SSL stands for secure socket layer encryption. Most banks should be using this feature on their login page. Depending on what kind of browser you’re using, you should notice a tiny padlock icon either in the top left with your address bar or in the bottom right of your screen. If you see that, it means the website you’re on has SSL encryption. This measure makes it very hard for someone to hack in and see what you’re doing.
- Automatic Logouts: Although some may find this feature annoying, it’s important for maintaining security. If you haven’t been active on your bank’s website for a while, the site should log you out and require you to log in again to continue banking. This helps ensure that someone else can’t access your bank account because you accidentally forgot to log out before stepping away from the computer.
- Account Monitoring: Many online banks keep an eye on what’s happening with your account in case anything out of the ordinary happens. For instance, if you make a $1,000 purchase out of the blue when you typically spend a fraction of that, the bank may actually hold the transaction or alert you and ask you to confirm that it’s a legitimate transaction.
The Bottom Line
As long as you do your due diligence in researching your bank’s security features and maintain good online habits yourself, you can feel confident about doing your banking online. Avoid public Wi-Fi, make sure your anti-virus and anti-malware software stay up to date, use proper password practices, and turn banking notifications on. These measures can help keep you and your money protected when you bank online.