Personal Finance
February 8, 2019
By Mary Beth Eastman

4 Online Banking Security Tips

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Most banks have websites that exceed today’s security standards. How you use your account, though, can affect your personal security. Follow these four tips to prevent criminals from accessing your accounts and committing fraud.

When you use public WiFi at a restaurant, cafe, or library, your private information gets routed through a local server that you don’t control. If you access your bank account, the person running the server could easily see your login information.

Public WiFi also makes you susceptible to man-in-the-middle attacks. Hackers commit man-the-middle attacks by setting up fraudulent internet connections that look like the WiFi connection you plan to use. Instead, all of the data that travels between the internet and your computer goes through the criminal’s connection.

You can protect yourself from man-in-the-middle and other types of attacks by using a virtual private network (VPN) when you access your bank account. When you use a VPN, all of the information that travels between your bank’s website and your computer gets encrypted.

Even if someone were to eavesdrop on the information, they wouldn’t know what any of it means.

A lot of people still don’t know how to choose secure passwords. The first rule is that you never use any personal information, such as your name, address, or pet’s name, in a password. Hackers have sophisticated software that will crack those passwords in minutes.

Instead, you need to select a completely random password that contains letters, numbers, and special characters. If you don’t feel comfortable making your own password, then you can use one of the random password generators online. You’ll get a nonsensical string of characters that will make it very hard for hacking software to figure out.

Check your account once per week or even more often to look for signs of suspicious activity. If you see a questionable purchase, contact your bank immediately. You may also want to get a copy of your credit report to make sure no one has stolen your identity.

It doesn’t take much to improve your banking security and protect yourself from criminals. As long as you follow these basic rules, criminals will leave you alone and search for easier targets.

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