No one likes to be taken advantage of. But in today’s world of online banking, there are plenty of cyber thieves looking to do just that to unsuspecting people.
That’s why it’s important to always be on high alert when conducting online banking transactions and related financial activity via the internet. At Bank5 Connect, your online security is one of our highest priorities. So much so that we want to share some best practices to keep your online bank accounts safe and secure, whether they’re with Bank5 Connect or another financial institution.
- Consider using a separate computer exclusively for online banking to protect it from malicious software, also known as malware. Malware is often contracted while browsing the web, using social networks, sending and receiving email, or playing online games.
- Use online or mobile banking to check your accounts on a regular basis, such as once or twice a week. Frequent checks will help you identify, and act on, any suspicious activity.
- Take advantage of email or text message alerts offered by most banks. These account notifications can alert you when your balance falls below a certain level or when there is a transaction over a certain amount. Some banks offer alerts for suspicious account activity as well.
- Set strong, unique passwords and change them on a regular basis. You should use passwords that are at least 8 characters long and include a combination of symbols, capital and lowercase letters, and numbers. And remember to make your passwords hard to crack. It’s never a good idea to use common words, or the names of family members or pets as passwords.
- Never use the same password for several accounts, and don’t share your passwords with anyone.
- Always fully log out of your online banking sessions. And once you’re logged out, close your browser for additional security.
- When you’re logged into online banking, never leave your computer or device unattended.
- Update your device’s security software, operating system and browser on a regular basis.
- Only conduct your online banking business from a secure internet connection. Never log into your account from a public computer, or a public Wi-Fi network. Free Wi-Fi in a hotel or coffee shop might be convenient, but it’s not worth the security risk. If you must access your online banking account on-the-go, it’s much safer to use your phone’s cellular network than a public Wi-Fi connection.
- If you’re using a computer for online banking, ensure that it has firewall protection. A firewall creates a barrier between your computer and an external network, such as the internet. This controls incoming and outgoing network traffic and helps screen out cyber criminals, malware and other damaging intrusions.
- Make sure you’re using an encrypted wireless connection at home.
Being vigilant about your online security, and staying on top of your account activity can go a long way toward protecting your bank account from cyber criminals. But remember, if you do spot any suspicious transactions in your account, alert your financial institution immediately. The sooner you identify fraud and notify your bank, the greater your chance of a speedy resolution.
For more information on how to stay safe online, visit http://www.bank5connect.com/home/security/fraud-prevention.
Though the internet has many advantages, it can also make users vulnerable to fraud, identity theft and other scams. Here are some tips to keep you safe online:
- Keep your computers and mobile devices up to date. Having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system are the best defenses against viruses, malware, and other online threats. Turn on automatic updates so you receive the newest fixes as they become available.
- Set strong passwords. A strong password is at least eight characters in length and includes a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.
- Watch out for phishing scams. Phishing scams use fraudulent emails and websites to trick users into disclosing private account or login information. Do not click on links or open any attachments or pop-up screens from sources you are not familiar with.
- Forward phishing emails to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at firstname.lastname@example.org – and to the company, bank, or organization impersonated in the email.
- Keep personal information personal. Hackers can use social media profiles to figure out your passwords and answer those security questions in the password reset tools. Lock down your privacy settings and avoid posting things like birthdays, addresses, mother’s maiden name, etc. Be wary of requests to connect from people you do not know.
- Secure your internet connection. Always protect your home wireless network with a password. When connecting to public Wi-Fi networks, be cautious about what information you are sending over it.
- Shop safely. Before shopping online, make sure the website uses secure technology. When you are at the checkout screen, verify that the web address begins with https. Also, check to see if a tiny locked padlock symbol appears on the page.
Sometimes you have to think like a crook in order to fight off a crook. For instance, what runs through the mind of a cyber thief seeking an unsuspecting victim?
- I’m looking for someone who uses the same password for several online accounts. That includes bank accounts and credit card accounts.
- How do I figure out what that password is? Hmmm, I’ll look for clues that they put out there on social media like Facebook and Twitter. Personal information like the name of their pet or one of their children. Look, they have a dog name Fido. Then let’s try Fido123 as their password. Voila! It works!
- Now, let’s see if their home Wi-Fi is password protected. If I can get into their network without a password, I can then check if their computer has anti-virus software.
- OK, I have access to their bank account. But I’m not going to clean it out right away. I’ll make a small purchase here and there to see if they’re checking their account regularly. And if they’re not, I’m going to go for the big score!
If any of this strikes close to home, then it’s time to strengthen your cyber defenses. You can do that by following these tips by cyber security experts:
- Use a different password for each online account you have, and change it frequently. Each password should include a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols.
- Don’t share passwords with others, even if it’s a friend or a family member.
- Avoid using personal information when selecting passwords or answers to security questions, especially if this information can be easily found by others online, such as on your Facebook page.
- Don’t save passwords on your computer, tablet or smart phone. Instead, put pen to paper and write them down on a note pad or in a journal. There is also password management software designed specifically to keep track of your passwords.
- Password-protect your desktop computer, laptop, tablet and mobile phone, as well as your Wi-Fi service at home.
- Monitor your bank account online at least once a week. Do the same for credit card and debit card activity, especially if you use your cards on a regular basis.
- If you discover suspicious or unauthorized charges in one or more of your accounts, contact the affected financial institutions immediately. Note that a popular tactic of cyber thieves is to “sneak” small transactions by victims to see if they’re paying attention to their account activity. If they see those transactions going undetected, they’ll swoop in to make major purchases that could have a significant financial impact.
- Install anti-virus software on your computer and keep it up to date. This is especially important if you do a lot of transactions online, such as buying items or services. And avoid making purchases on sites you’re unfamiliar with.
- Log off or turn off your computer when you’re not using it. And close your browser and sensitive apps before going offline.
- Don’t open e-mails or attachments from suspicious or unknown sources. These are typical approaches used by cyber crooks to gain access to information on your computer or take control of it. The same goes for links that are in e-mails. Unless you know for sure where those links are going to take you, don’t click on them.
- Never access your financial institution’s website for online banking or to make credit card payments from a public computer at a hotel, library, coffee house or other public wireless access point.
No matter if you’re on your smart phone, computer or tablet, always be alert and on guard against cyber criminals.