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How Secure is Your Online Banking and Credit Card Information?

Keep your private information as secure as Fort Knox

The rise in popularity of online and mobile banking technologies is undoubtedly tied to the convenience factor of not having to wait in line for a teller – but at what price?

In early spring, as many as 10 million online banking customers’ accounts were exposed due to a hack into Global Payments’ processing system. While credit card numbers were revealed, the third party financial company that processes information from major banking institutions, government agencies and large corporations, maintains that personal information, including names and Social Security numbers, was not compromised.

Still, in an age where the Wells Fargo mobile app is among the top recommended downloads on Google Play and iTunes, consumers must take extra precautions when it comes to digital banking exchanges, whether they are using a desktop computer or a mobile device.

Besides monitoring account activity, there are a few easy steps you can take to ensure that your money and information stays where it belongs.  

SSL Certificate – does the site you’re visiting have one?
The first line of defense against phishy activity is making sure the site you’re visiting has its SSL certificate. To ensure that the site you’re visiting is legit, refer to the left-hand side of your address bar and confirm that “https://” prefaces the Web address.

It’s especially important to look for the SSL seal of approval when making transfers and other online banking transactions. Commonly, browsers will display either a warning message or a red strike-through of https:// in the address bar, if the site doesn’t have an SSL Certificate. Here’s where it gets a little tricky, though: SSL certificates can be faked. So, take an extra step and check the website’s SSL legitimacy here: http://www.digicert.com/help/.

Always make sure your software is up to date

That annoying pop-up box is back, reminding you to update your security software. Instead of ignoring it, update your software when you’re prompted. Better yet, invest in a cloud-based “set it and forget it” solution that automatically updates your security for you.

The same goes for your mobile banking applications as well; with each update, developers have eliminated any known bugs or glitches, so make sure your phone’s protection is current, too.


Password protection


Resist any temptation to allow websites to store your banking login passwords on the computer, or via your mobile apps. Also make sure that your user names and passwords vary from site to site and include a combination of upper- and lower-case letters, number and symbols when possible. For this reason, it’s a smart idea to use a password management program that store your credentials all in one safe, centralized place.

Changing passwords periodically is also a good line of defense against identity theft and hacking. And always remember to sign out from websites, versus closing out the window, or worse – walking away while it times out.



Email safety


Consider all emails from financial institutions “suspicious packages.” Cyber criminals use sophisticated techniques to gain access to your financial records, one of them being an email that appears to be from a banking institution.

Never click through a link and then enter your password; information exchanged in this manner has the potential of getting into the wrong hands.  

Malware can spread beyond your personal computer to your mobile device. Not only does this leave you at risk for a hacked phone and compromised personal information, but all of the contacts stored in your phone become susceptible to an attack as well.

Think of it as someone breaking into your house, and among other things, stealing your address book to go commit other crimes.

In addition to the tips suggested here, additional mobile security is recommended, especially for those who regularly use smart devices for online and mobile banking.

By Amy Granite