Elevate Your Financial Security: How to Safely Bank Online
Today’s technology allows you to complete various tasks at the touch of a button wherever you go. As a result, you place trust in online services that make everyday chores more convenient without second-guessing their effects. One such service is online banking. More Canadians are doing their banking virtually with over 76% using online or mobile devices. Despite the extensive measures that banks take to strengthen their online security, no system is fail-safe. It is extremely important to practice proper security habits and be on the lookout for online fraud to ensure the safety of your financial information.
The Risks of Online and Mobile Banking
According to the Canadian Bankers Association (CBA), banks in Canada use sophisticated technology and layers of security to help protect customers from fraud when doing their banking online or using a mobile banking app. Although online banking is generally safe, it does provide cybercriminals with a potentially lucrative opportunity. Some scammers turn to phishing techniques to trick people into handing over their sensitive personal information. They call, text, or email you claiming to be a representative from your bank and state that they noticed some unusual activity related to your account. The imposters then ask you to click on a link in the email or text message to verify your credentials. Unfortunately, this “verification link” is actually a phishing link, and cybercriminals can use the password or credit card details to walk right into your account.
Once cybercriminals gain access to your password and username, they may then move on to credential stuffing. Credential stuffing occurs when an attacker inserts the username and password for one account into the login page of another online service. This tactic capitalizes on the fact that many people reuse the same username and password across multiple accounts.
Hackers also use phishing to spread malware onto the devices you use to access online banking services. These suspicious emails and text messages disguised as notifications from your bank could contain malicious links or attachments that trick you into downloading malware on your device. Furthermore, attackers mimic banking and money transfer institutions to collect your credentials and access your sensitive information.
Put Your Privacy First When Online Banking
The convenience of paying bills and depositing checks without running to the bank or post office is undeniable. Everyone is always rushing about, so if you’re now doing these things online securing your online privacy is not a responsibility to speed through.
It’s important that you put your privacy first when using online and mobile banking platforms so you can use these convenient services without jeopardizing your financial accounts. Follow these tips to enhance your online banking security:
1. Manage your bank account responsibly
Review your bank’s terms and conditions to understand your responsibilities as the account owner and the responsibilities of your bank. Check your accounts regularly for transactions you didn’t make and contact your financial provider as soon as you find an error. Most banks have policies that reimburse you for unauthorized purchases if someone uses your credit card without your permission.
2. Choose a strong, unique password
Look at the recommendations provided by your bank, for example, CIBC recommends using longer passwords for your bank account that include a combination of uppercase, lowercase, numbers, and special characters. Additionally, do not reuse this password across your other accounts. If a hacker guesses your password for one of your online accounts, it’s likely that they will check for repeat credentials across multiple sites. By using different passwords or passphrases, you can feel secure knowing that the majority of your data is secure if one of your accounts becomes vulnerable. If you’re worried about forgetting your passwords, subscribe to a password management tool that will remember them for you.
3. Use multi-factor authentication
Always opt-in for two- or multi-factor authentication if your financial institution offers it. This is a method of signing in that requires not only a username and password but also a one-time code that is sent by text or email. This extra layer of verification makes it much harder for a criminal to access your sensitive accounts.
4. Vet third-party apps and platforms
From splitting the check when eating out with friends to dividing the cost of bills, third-party mobile payment apps are an incredibly easy way to share money. Before downloading these apps, do your research. Ensure that the company behind the app or the app itself hasn’t undergone any major security incidents and that they have a history of patching bugs immediately. If you decide to download a mobile payment app, set your account to private and limit the amount of data you share. Additionally, look for the lock icon in your web browser when logging in to online banking platforms. A closed lock or padlock indicates that the website you’re on is secure.
5. Learn how to recognize phishing
Phishing scammers often undo their own plans by making simple mistakes that are easy to spot once you know how to recognize them. These mistakes include spelling or grammar errors throughout the email or text message, using a company’s logo with the incorrect aspect ratio or low resolution, and using a URL with typos. For example, phishers may swap an “o” with a zero, or end the address with “.con” instead of “.com.” If you receive a message with any of these characteristics, do not click on any of the links and delete it immediately.
6. Connect to a VPN
Never conduct your banking business on a public or unsecured wi-fi network. Connect to a virtual private network (VPN), which allows you to send and receive data while encrypting your information. When your data traffic is scrambled, it’s shielded from prying eyes, which protects your network and the devices connected to it.
Invest in Your Digital Security
While online banking adds a wealth of convenience to your lives, it’s important that you remain invested in your security first and foremost. Cybercriminals often take advantage of your reliance on digital platforms to disguise themselves as bank representatives and trick you into handing over your personal data. To remain secure while online banking, practice good cybersecurity hygiene by using strong, unique passwords, multi-factor authentication, and stay vigilant while looking for signs of phishing. These tips will help elevate your financial security so you can virtually bank with peace of mind.