Online Hygiene Is the Key to Online Banking Security


Banks spend millions of dollars each year to ensure the safety and security of their systems and hackers spend an equal amount time trying to defeat those safeguards. Chances are, your bank has already suffered a cyber-attack and lived to tell the story. Even if a hacker successfully breaches the bank’s security, your money is still protected by insurance and other mechanisms meaning you aren’t likely to suffer a financial hit personally.

Often times, online banking gets exposed one improperly secured account at a time. The bad guys (hackers) get your username and password combos by targeting less secure systems such as your email accounts or ecommerce shopping accounts. Once they find that you are using the same password and user combination at your bank, things get interesting for the hacker; all you get is a headache and a slimmer wallet.

Use every available security feature your bank offers. Use the two-step authentication process that sends codes to your phone when you log in. And, annoyingly, use a vastly different username and password for your bank that don’t use anywhere else – at the very least, use a completely different password.

It’s all about not making yourself a target, well, at least less of a target than someone who isn’t taking extra steps to protect themselves. Think of it like this. If you are a robber, are you going to pick the house with obvious security such as an ADT sign out front, or are you going to make life easier and go to the houses with no apparent security features? The goal here is get hackers to pass on trying to hack you because you’ve chosen better security practices and move on to someone less security conscious.

Do Banks Have All the Right Security Measures in Place?

Having seen firsthand the complex and sophisticated security schemes banks use to protect their systems, it’s safe to say there are numerous layers of the latest and greatest security technology protecting large banks. The online network you use to access your account is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to a bank’s complete network. It’s also safe to say they are doing everything a competent IT shop is doing and so much more.

Banks institute patrolling activities to search for fraud using sophisticated intelligence software and experienced forensic accountants. Your average bank uses complex systems to ensure that their own IT administrators and employees can’t do as they please with their security privileges. Layer upon layer of security checks and balances in an attempt to give the you the customers super convenient yet secure banking access.

Any bank that offers online banking checks to see if the device you’re using to access the account has been used before. If not, they will often use multi-factor authentications such as your first pet’s name or your mother’s maiden name, and they’ll make you do these added security checks from a registered device such as your cell phone.

Of course, you can always undermine most of these security features yourself by turning many of them off. Security always seems like such a hassle, until you’re the one checking to see if your account is still secure after you find out your bank has been hacked on the news.

You Are the Weakest Link in Online Banking

The weakest links in any security setup are the users. This goes for just about any technology you are currently using. People choose weak passwords because they’re easy to remember. People use the same user name and password combo across all accounts. The same combo they use to order more laundry detergent is often the same as their bank.

Once hackers have gotten into your laundry detergent account with ease, they now have the keys to the kingdom. Even if the bad guys can’t get into your account and rob you blind, they’ll be getting into someone else’s, which will in turn cause the banks to charge a higher premium.

Let’s face it, our chances of reverting back to in-branch banking only is highly unlikely, simply because it’s not practical in today’s everything online environment. The best thing you can do, on your end, is practice good online hygiene so you can sleep better at night.


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