The innovation of online banking and the convenience it affords has proven to be a revelation and almost a God send for millions of people the world over. Whereas before, many had to make considerable effort to rearrange busy work schedules to visit their bank branch during opening hours, or try to predict banking requirements far in advance when such visits were possible, bills can now be paid, funds transferred between accounts and much, much more, merely by a few clicks and key strokes. It is unfortunate therefore that online banking is feared by many as a system which is susceptible to fraud and thus perhaps – in a worst case scenario – the loss of their hard earned funds.
Online banking is by no means foolproof with regard to the many fraudsters who operate online today but the reality is that where one ensures that good, personal security practices are in place with regard to online banking, the risks of being affected in this way are miniscule. That is why it is vital that anyone presently engaging in online banking or considering doing so make themselves aware of certain security precautions and be careful to take appropriate heed of them at all times.
Different banks operate different means of allowing customers to sign in to their online banking accounts. In general terms, however, the system involves submitting a number of identity codes, passwords and perhaps answers to security questions. When one initially signs up for online banking, the initial codes to gain access will be provided by the bank. It is imperative that these codes are changed at the point of first sign in to ones which are both more memorable and even more importantly, unknown to any third party, however trustworthy that third party may be considered. Ideally, access codes for online banking should never be written down anywhere but if this is absolutely necessary, they should be written in disguised form so as not to indicate what they are and kept in as secure a location as possible.
When signing in to online banking, very often the system will afford the option of it remembering certain elements of the identity codes required. Even on one’s own computer, it is a bad idea to take advantage of this facility and it should never be selected where other users have regular access to the PC in question. Any information at all provided to a third party in this respect gives them a head start in obtaining unauthorised access. It is therefore far safer to manually input all details on every occasion.
Passwords on online banking should always be changed even on the vaguest suspicion that anyone else has learned of their configuration. It is also a good idea, however, to change one’s password, perhaps every few months, in order to maintain maximum levels of security. Many websites also recommend that a password for one site should never be used on another site and this advice is particularly sound in relation to online banking, where the hacking of a less secure site could lead to all sorts of problems.
Phishing is a procedure where unscrupulous individuals or organisations send out e-mails purporting to be from a legitimate source, requesting security or personal details. No reputable bank would ever request password or security details from their customers, either online or in any other fashion. It is vital therefore that any such e-mails received are not replied to but are where possible forwarded to the security department of the relevant bank.
Common sense forms a large part of online banking security but regrettably there will always be situations where the greatest security systems and practices in the world are penetrated. Whenever one suspects this to be the case, it is vital that the bank is advised immediately, if damage is to be prevented or at least limited and that serious financial loss is not to be the result.