Everyone who uses the Internet should be aware of the importance of protecting their data and preventing others from gaining access to passwords and other login details. This goes doubly for Internet Banking as the consequences of being compromised can be all the more severe when it’s your bank accounts that the fraudster could access.
There are various protocols that should be observed to ensure that you can benefit from the many advantages that online banking offers without suffering the heartbreak of having your funds cleared out.
Creation of effective security credentials:
The starting point of Internet Banking normally involves the creation of a password and various other login details. It stands to reason that it’s important that you create passwords and passcodes that aren’t easily guessable by other people. For example, don’t choose your debit card PIN, year of birth, or consecutive numbers (such as 1234) as your passcode and don’t choose the name of your favourite sports team as your password.
Internet security experts usually advise that passwords contain a mix of letters and numbers and you can also employ upper and lower casing to add an extra level of security. There is a balance to be struck, however, between security and usability. A password of H7fg23Pwe might be very difficult for a fraudster to guess but it will probably also be next to impossible for you to remember.
You should also avoid reusing passwords that you use for other websites. The more places that you register your password with, the more opportunities there will be for that password to become compromised and, of course, the more severe the consequences may be.
Avoiding having your security credentials compromised:
Having created your login passcodes and passwords, it’s obviously important that you ensure that you’re the only person who knows them. To safeguard this, it is recommended that you don’t write down your login credentials.
You also must avoid telling other people your login details. A really key thing to note here is that your bank will never ask you to divulge those sensitive security credentials to a member of staff. You will only ever be asked to provide them via the login screens of the online banking site.
Most people, by now, have heard of phishing, which is where fraudsters try to trick people into divulging their security details. This is usually attempted by sending an e-mail, purporting to be from your Bank which asks you to click through to a web page that will ask you to divulge your online banking credentials. When you received such e-mails, you should simply delete them and you should avoid clicking on any links contained within them. Similarly, if you receive an unexpected phone call from someone purporting to be from your bank, then you should refuse any requests to reveal for online banking security details.
Phishing attempts are often very transparent, with poor spelling and incorrect branding, but have fraudsters persist with such schemes as they only need to fool one person in thousands in order to make money. The bottom line is that you should only ever enter your security details by going to your bank’s website and clicking on the online banking login link that will be contained there. If you ignore all other invitations to reveal your details, then you should remain perfectly safe from the pernicious efforts of the criminals.
If you ever suspect that your details have become compromised, then you should contact your bank. They will be able to block access to your online banking accounts and will be able to arrange for you to get re-registered with new security credentials. In cases where a fraudulent attempt has occurred, the bank will also liaise with the police to endeavour to prosecute the fraudsters, recover any stolen funds, etc.
Make sure you have anti virus protection on your computer:
As well as tricking you into giving away your security details, another ploy is to infect your computer with a virus. If a fraudster has managed to get you to click on a dodgy link, then they may be able to place a trojan onto your computer and this may enable them to monitor your online activities. Keylogging has the potential to enable a fraudster to “see” what keys you entered on the login screen, with potentially very serious consequences.
Making sure you have a firewall and up to date anti virus protection on your computer will guard against such activity. If you aren’t sure whether a computer is properly protected, then refrain from using online banking on that computer. For example, many people are happy to use their own computer but would be dubious about using a computer in an internet café.
Keep your debit card safe:
Many banks have introduced an additional level of security if you wish to pay away funds through online banking. This usually involves the need to use a card reader device as part of the process of setting up your online payment mandate.
The way this works is typically as follows. You will log into online banking using your password credentials, and will then select the “set up a payment” option. At this point, you will be prompted to insert your debit card into a card reader device that you will have been issued with when you enrolled for online banking.
You will then be prompted to enter your card PIN and then follow a series of instructions to verify your transaction. This security approach is referred to as Two Factor Authentication (2FA) and can be summarised as “something you know and something you own” – i.e. a fraudster would not be able to move funds without knowing both your login details (something you know) and having your debit card (something you own). Therefore, keeping your debit card safe as well as your login details is important in preventing any fraudulent attempts.
Don’t let anyone shoulder surf and always log off:
Shoulder surfing is a term used where someone is standing close to you with the intention of trying to see the details you are entering. It’s mainly used in relation to withdrawing money from cash machines but could equally apply if you are accessing online banking from an Internet café, or at work, or from your smartphone whilst on the train. Obviously, it’s also vital that you log off once you’ve completed your browsing session, so that others don’t have the opportunity to access the pages you were on.
Talking about online banking security can sound scary and there’s no doubt that media horror stories have put some people off using online banking. However, the reality is that online banking is pretty safe provided that you are careful and diligent in following the basic internet security guidelines.