With the recent increase of new accounts being opened with black owned banks in support of the #bankblack and #blackmoneymatters initiative, online security should still be at the forefront when it comes to protecting your bank account. Here are 8 tips and questions to ask yourself in order to self educate in order to stay current with your bank’s online security practices. Understanding these methods of protection will prevent malicious activity that could be potentially targeted against your new (or current) bank account.
1 – Is the bank website set up with Secure Sockets Layer?
For websites that deal with financial transactions, secure communication is always key. This secure communication comes in the form of a Secure Sockets Layer (or SSL) connection. When you go to login to your account, look for the padlock icon to the left of the URL. If it’s there, that means the information passed between your bank’s server and your browser remains private. Next to the padlock you should see a “HTTPS” and not just “HTTP.” Always remember the “s” in HTTP(S) stands for secure. If you only see HTTP in the URL /website address, do not log in.
2 – Is two-factor authentication available?
Having a strong password is not enough in today’s digital world. With the demand of online safety growing, many banks offer a multiple-step login process called two factor authentication or 2FA that requires both something you know (a password and/or security questions) and something you have (your phone). As it relates to your banking website, If 2FA is setup, your cellphone will receive a text message of a second code, which you will need to enter as you log into your account.
3- Is Fraud monitoring available?
Any bank you decide to trust with your money should have continuous, real-time monitoring for fraudulent activity such as large withdrawals or purchases made at odd locations. This key factor alone will give you even greater peace of mind when it comes to your money and your trust with the bank.
4- Security controls: Automatic timeout sessions
Automatic timeout sessions are actually a good thing. Banks that enable this feature to close out your web session after a few minutes of inactivity ultimately protect you from prying eyes. It may be a bit of pain to have to log back due to inactivity but this is better than having someone obtain your information while you’re away from your computer. If you are checking your statement at work you should lock your computer when you leave your area anyway right? Again these are all key takeaways from what your bank should provide when it comes to online banking protection.
#youraccountmatters – preventative measures for protecting your money and account information.
Here are a few more tips to practice once you have finished enrolling into your new (or current) bank account.
5- Beware of phishing emails and texts.
Always keep an eye on your email and text communications from you bank. Normally the bank will not email you (unless you’ve signed up for a newsletter) or text you (aside from custom alerts you may have set up) out of the blue. Phishing emails are an attempt to look like they are sent from your bank but are really malicious methods designed to steal your user ID and password. Unless you are absolutely sure of the email or text’s origins, avoid clicking on the links within the email, especially if the email appears to ask for login or other important information. These types of emails attempt to have you enter your personal information, account information and any other personal identifiable information into a fake site that captures your credentials.
6- Make sure you download the official app of your bank.
When you download your respective bank’s mobile application from the App store or from Google play, be sure to check the app reviews to confirm the legitimacy of the banking app, check and verify who the maker of the app is and read the summaries carefully. There have been many instances of malware laced apps that resemble various phone apps that people use constantly. Following these tips will aid in preventing you from downloading any type of malicious app.
7- If possible, don’t use public WiFi and/or don’t use a public computer for banking.
Viewing your bank account online and paying bills over a free WiFi connection is not a good idea. If you must use free WiFi, consider using a VPN connection. VPN is a secure connection that can be used while using Public WiFi. A VPN grants you more security and prevents information from being leaked over the air. Remember, network activity over public WiFi is very easy to steal. Malicious actors can use a tool called a packet sniffer to read and capture your network activity. If you must use a public computer always remain vigilant towards your surroundings, watch your back and when you finish your session make sure you log out before you leave the computer.
8- Customize online banking settings and transactions.
Once you have logged into your account make sure to check out the admin controls. Within these controls you should be able to set up alerts that inform you of balance changes and charge amounts that you can control and keep track of. Normally these alerts can be sent to your phone via text or email.
Following these tips will put you on a path of online security awareness, a better understanding of your account and discovering invaluable methods to protect your online identity.