All banks take security very seriously, and they are very secure.
However, security isn't perfect. If you choose "Money" as your password, no amount of online security can prevent unauthorized access to your account. So it's worth looking at what you can to do further secure your virtual bank account and keep thieves from your door.
Choose a Strong Password
You want to make it as difficult as possible for hackers to figure your password. Avoid using any personal information, like birthdays or street numbers, that people can find online. And don't use simple, one-word passwords. Computers crunching tens of thousands of possible passwords per second can easily guess these.
Instead, create a long password that incorporates both lower and upper case letters, numbers, and special characters. Yes, this makes it harder to remember, but your account security is more important.
Ask About Two-Factor Authentication
Many banks are moving away from password-only security. They're adding a second factor, often a code which is sent to your mobile device which you're then required to enter after your password. With two-factor authentication like this, a hacker would not only need to guess your password; they would also need access to your cell phone.
Don't Fall Prey to Phishing Emails
If you get an email from your bank claiming some terrible thing might happen if you don't log in immediately using the link they provide, ignore and delete it. It's almost certainly a scam artist phishing for your username and password.
Make Sure You Download Your Bank's Official App
Another scam involves sending emails or otherwise advertising fraudulent links to a bogus version of your bank's online banking app. Downloading and logging into these fake apps provides your security credentials to the criminals. Instead, make sure you download the official banking app, either directly from your bank's website, the Apple Store or Google Play.
Sign Up for Available Fraud Alerts
Make sure that all of the available fraud protections offered by your virtual bank are activated.
Don't Bank Online When Connected to Public Wi-Fi
Public Wi-Fi networks or computers available for public use are not secure. Data can easily be stolen with they're in use. If you have to use one of these and don't have access to a VPN, never transmit sensitive information, like your banking credentials.
Make Sure You're SSL Secured
To be sure your banking session is encrypted, look for the padlock icon next to the website address in your browser window. If that isn't there, and if the web address starts "HTTP://" instead of "https://" log out immediately. If you aren't SSL secured, your data could be intercepted by third parties.
Secure Your Computer and Mobile Devices
Make sure your firewalls are correctly set up. Have anti-virus and anti-malware scanners installed to prevent keyloggers and other Trojans from making it onto your computer where they can steal personal information.
Periodically Check Your Bank Accounts
Regularly, examine your accounts for transactions you don't recognize or purchases that you didn't make. If you find something unusual, contact your bank.
Always Log Out When You're Finished
Most banks have auto-timeouts to protect you from someone gaining access to your account after you've left your device, but that does take some time, and until you're officially logged out, you're vulnerable. And if for some reason, the auto-logout function doesn't work, you'll stay logged in indefinitely. So get in the habit of always logging out.
About: Rory Brown was named by Ernst & Young as Financial Services Entrepreneur of the Year and has also been featured in several well-known industry publications, including Money Magazine and The Economist and companies he has managed have been included in the Inc. 500 multiple Times. Rory Brown is currently working on a new app that will help consumers navigate online banking. The app will connect clients with the best virtual banks in the world, where they can get comparisons on rates for home loans, auto loans, and more.
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