How To Keep Your Online Banking Safe

Online banking is a convenient way to manage your finances. All you need is a smartphone or computer and a connection to the Internet to pay bills, borrow money, or make investments.

Making the right choice when choosing a checking account is important. All these online accounts store a lot of confidential information about your finances that you need to protect. A small chink in your digital armor could expose you to fraud, increasing the risk someone steals your money and takes out cash advances in your name.

All these online accounts store a lot of confidential information about your finances that you need to protect. A small chink in your digital armor could expose you to fraud, increasing the risk someone steals your money and takes out cash advances in your name.

So, how can you make sure your cybersecurity is impenetrable? While there’s no way to guarantee absolute protection against all cyberattacks, following this guide will minimize your risk of getting into trouble.

Check out these three simple tips to keep your online checking account and online loans safe from prying eyes.

1. Use Strong Passwords That Stand Up Against Brute Force Attacks

Brute force attacks have been on a steep incline since the start of the pandemic. This cybersecurity risk involves a fraudster systematically guessing your password by inputting all possible combinations until they crack it.

A good way to think of brute force attacks is like someone trying to open a 3-digit combination lock by trying every number sequence.

This analog equivalent is boring and time-consuming, something that brute-force attacks are not. Fraudsters use sophisticated ciphers to test probable password combinations automatically.

These programs can run through billions of guesses every second. With that power behind their hacking abilities, a fraudster can crack an 8-character password in just eight minutes!

Luckily, some passwords take a lot more time to hack, making you less of an easy target. Here’s what you can do to make sure your password stands up to brute force:

  • Don’t Use Personal Info: Things like special dates and family names are easier to guess, so you should never use identifying information as inspiration.
  • Never Reuse It: If you use the same password and email combination for every financial account, all it takes is one data breach to expose all your login credentials.
  • Use a Variety of Characters: Numbers and symbols add complexity to a long password, but try to avoid the expected replacements like the @ symbol for an “A” or 1 for an “I”.
  • Make it At Least 13 Characters Long: A 13-character password with upper- and lower-case letters, symbols, and numbers would take two million years to crack under a brute-force attack.

2. Always Wait to Do Your Banking on a Secured Network

Secured Network

The convenience of mobile banking means you can pay bills or get loans by phone anywhere you find a signal. For those with limited mobile data, it might seem like a good idea to use the free Wi-Fi from a nearby café or library.

In reality, this is a risky move. Free Wi-Fi is an unprotected network that allows anyone to join. While most people will use it for harmless Internet searches, a well-prepared fraudster can hijack this shared connection.

With the right know-how, they can spy on all your activity while using this network, including important login credentials for your checking account or loans online. With the keys to these accounts, they can move money around — or worse, steal your identity to open fraudulent cash advances and lines of credit in your name.

Avoiding free Wi-Fi is the easiest way to stay out of a fraudster’s line of sight. Wait until you’re on a trusted network to manage your financial accounts, even if it’s just to check your bank balance or the next due date for your installment loan.

Back home, you can follow these tips to strengthen your family’s Internet:

  • Change your default network name
  • Update the default password, using the rules above
  • Only share your Wi-Fi with people you trust

3. Browse Your Inbox Carefully

When you create an account with an online financial institution, there’s a good chance your bank or lender will contact you via email. They might even text you if they offer this service!

Electronic communication is a normal part of the digital banking experience. But how these financial institutions contact you is important. If they get it wrong, there’s a good chance you’re not talking to your trusted bank but a fraudster on a phishing trip.

Phishing attacks involve fraudsters sending you an email pretending to be a reputable financial institution and asking for your personal information. It works on a lot of folks because they believe they’re talking to their real bank, so they end up sending information that should never be shared over email.

Knowing how to identify phishing can help you avoid making a mistake you’ll regret. Here are some things a legitimate financial institution will never do:

  • Ask you to reply with personal information, including account numbers or passwords
  • Request payments sent via gift cards or money transfers
  • Insist you open an attachment
  • Use threatening or aggressive language
  • Share a link that doesn’t go to their homepage or login page — remember to always hover over this link to ensure this URL is correct before clicking

Spotting a phishing attack can take some extra vigilance, but it’s easy once you get used to the red flags. If you think you’ve become the target of a scam, reach out to the Federal Trade Commission and the financial institution that the fraudster is using as a smokescreen.

Online Banking is Safe When You Follow These 3 Tips

You can safely manage your finances online despite the threat of brute force and phishing attacks. The trick is to boost your digital security with better passwords, secured Internet, and safe inbox behavior. These tips will help you prevent your personal information from falling into the wrong hands.

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