How to Protect Your Online Banking Account from Cyber Criminals

Latest News | 11.02.2016

The number of people using internet banking services has increased significantly and now they are the favorite target of cyber criminals. Cyber criminals are exploring every possible way to steal money from your bank accounts. They target consumers by exploiting the security flaws in their computer.

Online banking frauds have several forms. The latest seems to be Smishing (for SMS phishing). It is essentially a version of phishing and targets customers using mobile banking services.

Malware is still the biggest threat on the internet. Users unwittingly install malware on their computer when they click on fraudulent links in emails and download software from malicious websites. Malware allows cyber criminals to take control of your PC and your bank accounts.

Convenience at a cost

Online banking is becoming more and more popular because it is convenient. It allows you to check your account balance or transfer money using your phone or computer.

Most banks now offer online banking services to their customers to make banking transactions easier for them. Unfortunately, online banking has its shortcomings too. Unless you take proper precautions, online banking can put your finances at risk. Be careful when storing your banking usernames and passwords on your phone or computer. You also need to ensure that you are logging in to your bank's encrypted site every time you access your account online.

Here are some tips for keeping your online banking accounts safe.

Monitor your banking accounts regularly

This is very important. You should log in to your account on a regular basis and ensure that all the transactions you find there were performed by you. If you notice any suspicious or fraudulent activity, inform your bank immediately.

Ideally, you should monitor your account every few days. This is particularly important after doing online shopping. You need to ensure that your account number is only used for purchases made by you.

Do not send personal information via email

You may receive email updates or alerts from your bank. Don't click on the links in these emails to access your online banking account. Log into your account manually. This way you can ensure that you are accessing a secure website. Phishing emails will have links that send the user to a malicious version of the bank's website. Most of these sites are designed to steal your username and password.

If an email looks and sounds important, call the bank to ascertain its veracity. Ignore emails that request you to provide your username and password. Keep in mind that banks never ask for such information via emails.

Change your passwords on a regular basis

Make sure that you are not using the same password to login to multiple accounts. A lot of people commit this mistake. Use strong passwords that contain a mix of lower and upper case letters, symbols, and numbers. Do not use your name or birth date as passwords.

Log in to your account from secure locations

Do not perform banking transactions over an unsecured public WiFi connection. WiFi hotspots found at coffee shops, airports, and railway stations are not secure and can be intercepted easily. If you log into your banking account over an unsecured connection, cyber criminals can easily steal your username and password.

Make sure that your computer is free from malware

Turn on the firewall and run up-to-date antivirus software on your computer. A good anti-virus program will protect your computer when a malicious website tries to install fraudulent software on it. Free antivirus products are available but they won't offer the same level of protection as a premium one.

Check for encryption.

While accessing your online banking account, you need to ensure that the URL begins with 'https'. You also need to ensure that the small lock icon that appears in the address bar is green in color. The green lock icon and https are indications that you are accessing the encrypted version of your bank’s site.