Online banking has become very common among most citizens, myself included. I’m not a patient person so I detest waiting in long bank queues to make transactions. When banks introduced online banking, I gladly jumped at the opportunity to avoid frequent visits to the bank. However, this comes with various security concerns. My background in Information and Communication Technologies allows me to interpret these threats and steer clear of any activities that may jeopardize my safety, especially when using online banking.
I graduated a few years ago with a BSc. degree in Computer Technology. During my freshman and second year on campus, my specialty was in cyber intrusions and cyber security. This was not taught in class but I made a point to enroll in various cybersecurity and penetration testing courses online. I have always had very few friends. When I was admitted to campus, I realized that I had a lot of time but not enough tasks. I found computers very fascinating and began learning as much as I could. In my freshman year, I learned several programming languages which enhanced my need to know more about computers.
My curiosity and creativity led me to the Linux Operating System. I explored this further majoring in Kali Linux, the ideal OS used by hackers. I learned of the many dangers of the internet and how easy it is to be a target of cyber-attacks. With this knowledge, I focused on learning enough to protect myself and my devices against malicious resources and individuals on the net.
The propagation from traditional to online banking made me raise my eyebrows. I have always been paranoid about sharing sensitive information on the internet but my detest for traditional banking compelled me to embrace online banking. However, before doing this I made several decisions concerning my interaction with online banking platforms. I did this to protect myself from vulnerabilities associated with online banking. In this article, I will share several ways I use to protect myself and my baking data while using online banking.
1. Do you Due Diligence
Before using any online banking platform, I always do my due diligence. I find out as much information as possible about the platforms and the kind of security they have in place to protect the customers’ data. Most banks with these platforms ensure top-notch security but doing research helps calm my nerves. This can be done by anybody irrespective of whether they have a background in Information and Communication Technologies or not. When using online banking services on a website, I make sure that the website is protected by Secure Socket Layer (SSL). This makes sure that a user’s interactions with the website are encrypted to protect data from unauthorized third-party access. Only use a website with a lock that shows that it’s secure.
This is possible because most of this information is published online. I search for reviews and publications about the bank’s online banking system. There are expert reviews available online detailing the security of different banks’ online banking platforms. In the case of mobile applications, I check whether the application has been verified by google protect. This helps me make sure that I download applications from the verified publisher. I also read user reviews to determine the experience of other users. An application with low ratings and majority negative feedback raises red flags.
2. Strong Passwords
After doing my due diligence and deciding to use online banking services, securing my password is the next move. In most cases, people use passwords that are easy to remember. This means that these passwords are obvious which exposes them to threats.
A few years ago when I was pursuing cybersecurity, brute force attacks were commonly used to identify a person’s password. Such attacks require filling in the most common information about a target individual such as birthday, favorite pet, girlfriend, and parents’ names. This information is used to create a brute force dictionary. Using this dictionary, the attacker uses algorithms that try various password combinations using this information. This technique may be outdated but there are various ways of cracking easy passwords. So it is important to make passwords complex.
This can be accomplished by avoiding using predictable information such as birthdays, school registration numbers, etc. it is achievable by creating a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols. You should also use a mixture of upper and lower-case letters to make the password stronger. If you cannot remember the password, I would recommend one to create a google password manager that saves your login information securely. The bottom line is to ensure you create a strong and secure password.
3. Two-factor Authentication
Creating a strong password is not enough, extra security is crucial because banking information is very sensitive. Since earning money is a big challenge, I ensure to protect my money at all costs. And so should you. For this reason, I always activate two-factor authentication. This means that the customer has to verify their identity using two unique keys before gaining access to their online banking interface.
This is simple since most platforms are providing an option for users to enable two-factor authentication. This means that after entering the password, the system sends a second code via an SMS or email to confirm the transaction. Since emails are also prone to attacks, I ensure two-factor authentication for my email as well to prevent unauthorized logins from remote devices. If one fails to enter this code then the transaction is not completed. You do not need technical knowledge to enable this.
This functionality is in the settings section especially security settings. In case you do not find this option, I would recommend you to contact your bank’s customer care for directions or use the bank’s self-service feature. The extra level of security ensures that customers receive notifications of any transaction authorized via the online banking platform. As a result, it prevents access from remote and unauthorized devices.
4. Avoid Public Wi-Fi
I have always loved computer networks because of their simple yet complex nature. Exploring networks and researching networking concepts helps me understand the danger they pose while providing convenience through the interconnectivity of devices. Wi-Fi networks have become very common in contemporary society. I have often heard people ask for Wi-Fi passwords to various public places to access the internet. What they don’t know is that malicious people are often using public Wi-Fi to collect data from unknowing people surfing the web.
Despite websites being under constant protection by SSL, hackers always find vulnerabilities that allow access to customers’ data. This may be through spoofing where deceive unknowing victims and phishing where attackers masquerade as the bank and collect banking information. These are just two examples of attacks that can happen because a person connects to a public network.
At times, the cost of internet subscription services may be high. However, private subscriptions prevent one from various attacks associated with using public Wi-Fi. My advice is to have a long-term internet subscription service on your phone (data) to avoid using public Wi-Fi which makes people susceptible. Alternatively, refrain from using online banking platforms when using public Wi-Fi and switch to USSD. USSD is where one uses the codes (e.g. *522# for KCB or *667# for the cooperative bank) to access remote banking services.
5. Subscribe to your Bank’s Newsletters
I have to be honest with you on this one. I hate newsletters irrespective of the organization mailing them. However, banking newsletters are an exception because they ensure customers are up-to-date with the activities that affect them. Security concerns and updates are among such issues or activities that affect the customers.
The advantage of subscribing to newsletters is that one is always notified of the various changes happening in the bank that may affect one’s interactions. For instance, newsletters announce maintenance schedules. in most cases, these newsletters notify customers of scheduled maintenance and advise them to refrain from using online banking during maintenance. During maintenance, the platform is often unstable and therefore vulnerable. During these maintenance periods, malicious individuals may choose to attack unaware victims. This may be through spoofs among other kinds of attacks aiming to collect their banking information such are credit and debit card numbers and their respective CVV numbers.
I have read about so many cases about cons tricking victims to provide credit and debit card information. Later, they either max out these credit cards or use them for online purchases. If a bank customer subscribes to these newsletters, then they can stay one step ahead of these cons. After subscribing, one must also make it a habit to read emails often to ensure they are up-to-date. I have a feeling that this is frustrating you, but it is a necessity to ensure that your banking information is secure from malicious individuals online.
6. Know official Bank Channels
Banks are constantly sending their customers notifications and newsletters. In case of problems, they also advise customers on how to resolve these issues. Malicious individuals also use this technique to prey on unknowing victims aiming to steal their banking data or information. It is therefore important to know your bank’s official communication channels.
Banks rarely use social media but in case you communicate through social media, it is important to ensure that the social media handle is verified. Most banks have verified their social media with the blue badge. This makes it easy to identify frauds when engaging your banks on social media.
The most common mode of communication is through email, short messages (SMS), and phone calls. I would recommend visiting your banks’ websites and noting down their contact information. Banks only communicate through official phone numbers and emails. Noting down these communication identities will help you avoid falling prey to malicious individuals masquerading as your banks’ customer care.
Some of these malicious individuals may sound very convincing but it is important to refrain from providing any sensitive information such as debit and credit card numbers or passwords. On several occasions, I have received calls from such cons but I have a technique to avoid falling prey. I refuse to provide any information and suggest visiting the bank physically to resolve the issue.
Online Banking Security
Banks and other financial organizations have sophisticated systems to lock out malicious individuals from their online banking software. The vulnerability in such a system is with the human element especially the unknowing customers. There are several attacks designed by cons to attack online banking customers aiming to collect their banking data with malicious intent. It is therefore important for customers to be aware of these threats and hoy can protect themselves while using online banking.
In this article, we have explained in detail how customers should ensure secure online banking. A combination of all of the techniques highlighted in this article will help stay one step ahead of the cons. This is not a full-proof manual but it is the next big thing. It creates awareness of the dangers of online banking and provides ways of protecting oneself.
I hope you have learned something new from this article. Please share your thoughts in the comment section or on our social media platforms (Twitter & Facebook). Also, check out our other article on financial planning and empowerment. Until next time, Adios.