Practicing Online Banking Safety

Red hair woman working at computer with phone in hand.As more and more people bank online it is important to make sure you are practicing banking safety when doing so. Online banking is a great resource to help members gain access to information and complete tasks on the go, but it can also make you more vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Here are some tips to help you bank safely online.

Never login to online bank accounts or apps on public WIFI – This is one of the easiest ways for hackers to gain access to your information, and a common mistake people make. With how expensive it is to pay for data overages, it is hard to resist the temptation of free public WIFI. Although it is ok to use the free public WIFI to search the web or send some pictures, you should never use it to log in to accounts or apps that contain personal information.

You may be thinking, what is the difference between public and private WIFI? The difference is the security of the connection. Private WIFI from your house or work is normally encrypted and password protected, while with public WIFI it is hard to tell how secure it is. On public WIFI the information you send along via the web might not be encrypted and can be intercepted and seen by hackers. An alternative when you need to use your finance apps is to turn your WIFI off and use data instead. Using your phone’s data is not 100% effective at preventing hackers from accessing your information, but it is significantly more secure than public WIFI.

Avoid saving your login information – After you login to your account online, you get the pop up asking you to save your login information. If you click yes, the next time you go to the webpage it will automatically log you in. This seems very convenient when you are diligent about having different passwords with varying length and characters, however, it leaves you open to hackers. When you save the information to your web browser, if a hacker gains control of your computer or mobile device, they gain control of your accounts.

Use strong passwords and change them often (phrases or sentences instead of one word) Having a password that is 12 or more characters long and is changed frequently helps to ensure your account is kept safe. The longer and more complex your password is, the more difficult it is to hack. Using phrases or sentences can help to increase the complexity while also makes it easier for you to remember. You will also want to make sure you use letters, numbers, and special characters.

Data compiled by, showed that an 8-character password with just lowercase letters takes 5 seconds to get into, while an 8-character password with numbers, upper- and lower-case letters, and symbols takes 8 hours to get into. On the other hand, a 12-character password with just lower-case letters takes 3 weeks to crack, and with numbers, upper- and lower-case letters, and symbols it can takes 34,000 years. In short, the longer and more complex, the harder it is to crack. Also, be sure to use different passwords for different accounts to stop hackers from accessing everything if they get into one account.

Use two-factor authentication – Two factor authentication is a great way to add additional security to your accounts. Two-factor authentication is when an app, website, or any kind of account contacts you in a different way to verify your identity. In many situations, this is done by sending a text with a code to the phone number on file. Make sure to only open and use text verifications that you send yourself and reach out to the company in question directly if you receive an unauthorized verification text.

Keep your computer and anti-virus software up to date – Ensuring that you keep your computer software and anti-virus software up to date is important for protecting your data security. When you let your anti-virus software lapse it creates an opening for hackers to gain access to your computer and personal information. Staying up to date with your computers updates is important because most updates are to fix weak points that are discovered in the software that hackers can use to their advantage.

Always type your banks web address in yourself – When you are going to login to your bank’s website, be sure to type in the web address yourself. Never use links that are sent to you in an email or text message to access your bank accounts. These links could look like the actual website but could be a false website to capture your information.

Review your statements regularly – A great habit to get into is reviewing your statements monthly. This allows you to check for any unusual charges and to make sure everything looks right. Very often, someone trying to steal your card information will make a small charge to see if it gets processed before making larger charges. If you can catch and report an unusual small charge, it will help protect you from dealing with a larger headache down the line.

Ask for text alerts – Some credit unions and banks have a text alert service that lets you know if there is any suspicious activity on your accounts. For some alerts you can set a limit that any transaction over a specific amount, for example $50, will trigger a text alert. This can help you catch any suspicious transactions before they are processed by your bank.

Be careful what finance apps have access to your banking app information – Many people use financial apps to help them keep track of their budget and finances. If you like to use these apps make sure to check the level of security each app you use has, and what access you are granting to them. Some of these apps have access to your bank account information, and if the financial app is hacked so is your bank accounts. Not all apps are security risks, but it is important to be aware of their security before something happens to your account.

Use fingerprint or facial recognition software on your mobile devices – Using fingerprint and facial recognition on your personal devices adds a new level of security to your accounts. This level of security makes it extremely difficult for someone to try to gain access to your device. If you have a fingerprint or facial recognition password on your device and you lose it, it makes it that much harder for them to gain access to your information.

By using these tips every day, it can help increase the protection you have on your personal and financial information. For more tips on how to protect your information read our blog Protecting yourself from Fraud.

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