Security Tips for Online Banking
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SECURITY TIPS FOR ONLINE BANKING

You heard recently of your friend who was not really aware of all the dangers of online banking. He inadvertently provided personal banking details in response to what he thought was an official email from his bank.

This type of incident belongs in the “nightmare” category, and should be avoided at all costs. Surprisingly, in this day and age with so much cybercrime activity, there are still Internet users out there who are oblivious to all these scams. So let us explore what to look out for when doing online banking.

TWO FACTOR AUTHENTICATION

For online banking, your bank should be able to offer you what is called two factor authentication. This is a code that lasts a really short time and is an authentication factor that is additional to the usual login authentication factor.

WHAT KIND OF PASSWORD SHOULD YOU USE?

To use a robust password, you need to use a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers as well as special characters. You should completely avoid creating a password that contains your date of birth, initials, and surname. Ideally, your password should be changed every few months or so. Never save any confidential online banking details on your computer. Passwords should be 8 digits or longer if possible.

MAINTAINING YOUR COMPUTER SECURITY

South African banks provide security to their clients in terms of firewalls and antivirus software. Our computers need constant protection from the unrelenting pressure of cybercrime activity, by using antivirus software.

HOW DO CYBERCRIMINALS TRY AND DECEIVE YOU?

One South African bank warns its clients constantly about the dangers of “phishing” which is when fraudulent emails that really look like they have been officially sent by a bank are asking for login details, for instance. This South African bank repeatedly tells its customers that they would never send an email to them to request personal banking details. In addition, if the email has a link in it, please do not touch it as it will take you to a fraudulent website that looks identical to your bank’s website. When you wish to access your bank account on the bank website, always type in the address.

Beware of phone calls from “your bank” requesting banking details – something that your real bank will never do. If you have any doubt, immediately terminate the call, and ring back to the same number and see who answers. If the number is fraudulent, report it to your bank.

WHAT DO YOU DO IF YOU HAVE MISTAKENLY GIVEN OUT CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION?

We can all make mistakes, and if it should happen that you unfortunately gave out information that was confidential, immediately contact the bank who can help you further.

USE A SECURE LOCATION FROM WHICH TO ACCESS YOUR ACCOUNT

Make sure that the URL address you are using is secure i.e. it starts with https and not just http. Also be on the lookout for a small padlock icon, which also indicates that the site is secure.

SHOULD YOU USE PUBLIC WI-FI NETWORKS?

Many restaurants and retail chain stores offer their customers free access to their Wi-Fi network as an additional perk. It’s very easy to sign into the free Wi-Fi, but there is no guarantee how secure they may be. They are often not encrypted, which means that it is quite easy for a cybercriminal to hack in and steal information from your computer. An absolute no-go is to log into your bank account over such a public network. If you are in a desperate hurry to do a bank transaction, rather access the Internet using your cell phone as a hot spot.

AUTOMATIC LOGIN MUST BE DISABLED

Your computer may have the facility when it automatically stores your private username or password information regarding your online banking. If this is the case, make sure to disable this facility.

LOGGING OUT WHEN FINISHED WITH ONLINE BANKING

Always remember to log out from online banking once you have finished, as this will ensure that your account will not be exposed to any hacking activities.

REGULAR UPDATES OF YOUR COMPUTER

Make sure that your computer receives regular updates, as these protect it from the malware that is out there.

SHOULD YOU MAKE USE OF YOUR BANK’S CELL PHONE APP?

Your bank’s encrypted cell phone app most likely will beat the security level of the bank’s website. This is because the app is not so exposed to any cybercrime threatening the website. Remember to download the app updates when you receive them. They keep the app on “its toes” regarding cyber security. If your cell phone is Android, always download apps from Google Play Store.

BE CAREFUL OF DOWNLOADING APPS ONTO YOUR CELL PHONE

Cell phone app stores offer Online Banking downloads all the time. Before you download any of them, rather contact your bank first to make sure of their authenticity.

WHAT HAPPENS IF YOUR LAPTOP OR CELL PHONE GETS STOLEN?

Vital banking information on your laptop or cell phone will be exposed to cybercriminals when they get hold of these devices. So lock access to these devices with a PIN, or a password, and thus make it virtually impossible for a criminal to gain access to them. Make sure that your PIN, and password stay confidential. Another safety feature introduced by the banks is that you only have 3 chances at getting your PIN or password right – after that you’ll have to go to the bank to get a new PIN or password.

IMMEDIATELY TURN OFF BLUETOOTH WHEN NOT IN USE

If Bluetooth is left on, on your computer or cell phone, cybercriminals can hack into these devices via Bluetooth, and have access to various functions. So when you have finished using Bluetooth, switch it off!

ARRANGE WITH THE BANK TO SEND TEXT (SMS) OR EMAIL NOTIFICATIONS

It is standard practice by banks to send you text (sms) or email notifications regarding any account activity. This will immediately alert the account holder if anything funny is going on. Remember to check if this comes at a cost though.

KEEP A REGULAR EYE ON YOUR ACCOUNT

It is self-explanatory that almost daily access to your account will ensure that you are constantly monitoring your account, and it will enable you to notice any funny activity.

HOW CAN THE BANK PROTECT YOU FROM LOSING LARGE SUMS?

Clients can place a limit on the maximum monthly amount of funds that will be transacted with online banking. In this way, any would-be cybercriminals are prevented from withdrawing large sums of money, should they manage to get into your account. The same applies to your ATM withdrawals – minimise the daily withdrawal limit.

WHAT TO DO WHEN USING AN ATM

Try and avoid ATMs that are in remote and not well-lit areas. Carefully check the card slot before you insert the card. One person said he wasn’t concentrating while inserting his card into an ATM, and discovered that his card just disappeared down a hole! If an ATM is displaying a sign “out of order”, just be careful when you go to the supposedly “working” ATM, and make sure it is safe. Some thieves may direct you on purpose to go to the “working” ATM. Finally, do not accept help from any stranger.

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Unless you wish to, you don’t have to contact anyone when using PMD’s online car insurance buying platform. When buying your policy or plan online, you can arrange it in a way that suits your specific needs. If you get stuck, there are videos and audio files you can use on the website. It’s a lot quicker doing it all online compared to doing it through an agent, and the real advantage is that you can do this anytime – even at 02h00 in the morning! However, PMD does offer human assistance if you need it by making available to you the online call-back facility.

Sources:

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