If you use online banking, you’ve probably received numerous notifications, warnings, and advice on how to keep your online account information safe. Security is fundamental for any bank or financial institution, and you can never have too much information to help safeguard your personal and financial data.
Use Trusted Computers Always access your online banking via a trusted computer. You can control and monitor your own computer’s security by keeping your operating system, browsers, and antivirus software up to date, but you can’t be sure if a public computer is free of malware, spyware, or keystroke loggers.
Use Strong Passwords A popular way for hackers to gain access to your bank account information is via dictionary attack. By simply trying numerous password combinations, hackers are able to sign into any account secured with a simple password. You can protect yourself against dictionary attacks by using complex passwords with numbers, punctuation, and upper- and lower-case characters. For example, write a memorable sentence using proper names and select the first letter of each word to include in your password. Add a number and a symbol and you’ll have a pretty strong password:
The years I spent in college were the best of my life = TyIsicwtboml4#
Many banks require you to use a complex password, so you may already be less susceptible to these types of attacks. If you use multiple banks, use different passwords for online banking services — in case one account is compromised, your other accounts may still be safe.
Multi-Factor Authentication is Your Friend Even if you have a strong password and feel confident that your computer is free of viruses, consider multi-factor authentication. This means you need to provide more than just one password in order to log in. When you forget a password, most sites simply email you a password reset link. Anyone with access to your email would be in a position to reset your bank login and lock you out of your own account. With multi-factor authentication, you provide a second way to verify your identity.
Don’t Get Phished Even if you are on a secure network, you can find yourself on a fake site designed to collect your personal information. Phishing scams are fairly well understood, but they still work and they are only getting better. A hacker obtains a list of customer email addresses and sends a flood of emails that appear to be from a bank. These emails contain links asking customers to log in, but the links direct to a fake site that collects user names and passwords. Remember, a bank will NEVER reach out to you via e-mail and request that you reset your online login and password.
Most banks do everything they can to protect you from online fraud, but maintaining security on your own computer and network is critical. If you think you’ve been a victim of online fraud, you can file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.