Dodge online banking fraudsters with these 12 cybersecurity tips

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A recent Which? study tested the security of 13 of the UK's most popular online banking sites between September and November 2022. The study found that Virgin Money, TSB and Nationwide were the worst at protecting their customers from online scammers.

With so many well known banking sites falling short when it comes to blocking fraudsters, cybersecurity experts at VPNOverview have compiled a list of 12 safety tips to keep your money safe from malware and phishing scams.

What are the possible dangers of online banking?

Financially motivated cybercrime, using malware and phishing, is growing at a rapid pace. In fact, by 2023, the number of internet users is set to increase by 275%, creating more targets for online banking fraudsters. Banks worldwide are doing all they can to protect their customers from banking fraud by raising awareness and utilising new technology to make online banking safer.

Malware

Cybercriminals can use malware like spyware to break into your phone or computer and potentially steal your banking details. Cybercriminals can use a keylogger to track your keystrokes and steal your banking login details as you are typing them. In the worst-case scenario, a hacker can infect your computer with a virus, allowing them to gain total control of your computer and possibly transfer your money straight into their account. 

Phishing

Phishing is where a cybercriminal attempts to obtain someone’s sensitive information by pretending to be a party this person trusts, such as a bank. This imposter would contact the victim via email or phone to trick them into surrendering login information. The scammer will often produce a plausible reason why they are asking for this sensitive information. It is essential to stay vigilant and remember: it is highly unlikely that your bank will ask you for login details, PIN codes or confidential information.  

12 online banking safety tips

  1. Be wary of transfers: Only transfer money to parties you trust. Money transfers cannot usually be reversed without the explicit permission of the receiving party.

  2. Use a unique password and login details: Make sure your banking login details are different from your other online portals or services; it is much safer to have a different password for your bank if a hacker gains access to your device. The most secure password you can create will be at least ten characters long, containing a minimum of one uppercase letter, one lowercase letter, one number, and one symbol. It would be best if you considered changing your password to a new unique password every six months.

  3. Keep login details safe: Do not give your online banking login details to anyone. If you receive a phone call or an email asking for you to enter your banking login details, sensitive information or PIN codes, this could be a phishing scam.

  4. Use fingerprint and face ID: Make use of the newest technology when it comes to signing into your online banking apps. Using a fingerprint or Face ID login is much safer than the traditional username and password. Another security measure to consider is using two-factor authentication, essentially providing two methods of logging in to ensure that the right person is logging in.

  5. Update apps: Ensure your device’s operating system is up-to-date. The same goes for your online banking app if you use one. The best practice is to configure your settings to update all updates automatically.

  6. Never click on suspicious hyperlinks: If you receive an email or a text from a number or address you don’t recognise that contains a hyperlink, don’t click on it. Do not download any files they may contain.

  7. Be wary of suspicious emails: Cybercriminals may send you a convincing-looking email with your bank’s logo and a professional-looking layout. If this email asks for sensitive information, including your password, login details or PIN code, delete this email.

  8. Check HTTPS connection: Always ensure the website you visit has a secure HTTPS connection before you log in to your online banking account. Many browsers, such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Internet Explorer, show whether your connection to a certain website is secure. Some of these browsers may display a padlock symbol inside the address bar indicating the safety of a website’s connection. If not, you can check the URL:

    If the URL you visit contains “https://”, this is secure as the ‘s’ stands for secure. If you see “http://” the connection isn’t secure. You may have to click on the URL in the search bar to see the “https://” appear. If the connection isn’t secure, do not share any personal details with that page.

  9. Install antivirus software: Install antivirus software on your device to protect yourself from malware and viruses. The best antivirus programs will offer a built-in firewall, essentially a network security device that provides a barrier between a trusted network and an untrusted network.

  10. Be wary of phishing: If you suspect you have come across a potential phishing email or call that claims to have been sent by your bank, contact your bank immediately to notify them. If they do not know about this request, you were likely almost a victim of a phishing scam.

  11. Check your banking app frequently: Frequently check your online bank for peculiar activities and alert your bank of any transactions that you don't recognise.

  12. Trust your gut: Ultimately, if something doesn’t feel quite right as you’re transferring a payment or entering sensitive details, trust your gut and don’t continue. 

A spokesperson from VPNOverview commented: “Although banks around the world are working hard to make online banking as safe as possible, it is still a good idea to take some safety measures yourself when managing your finances. By taking charge of your own online safety, you can prove to your bank that you are not negligent and are more likely to be reimbursed by your bank if something bad happens. By following these tips to protect yourself while online banking, managing, paying and receiving money will become a lot safer.” 

Source:
ONS survey stats

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