The world has gone digital. Penetration of internet services coupled with the smartphone revolution has made it possible for people to transact online without necessarily having to move. Banks also joined the bandwagon by making it possible for their clients to send and receive money online from anywhere. While it brings about convenience, it equally comes with risks of cyber-attacks. Hackers are just waiting for the slightest opportunity to steal your hard-earned money. Hence you need to know how to secure your online banking. If you do not know how to go about it, relax, that’s what this guide is all about.
How do criminals steal from your online account?
Before we go through the tips on how to secure your online account, you need first to understand how cybercriminals can steal from you. This way, you can realize your vulnerability.
The first step for cybercriminals is to get your internet banking details. They achieve this through phishing or a keylogger installed on your device. They aim at getting hold of your account login details such as your account number, username, and password.
The second step for the fraudsters is to create a new bank count since they require an active account to withdraw the money. They achieve this by using fraudulent details or even using an existing bank account of the unsuspecting person.
Now that the fraudsters have your login details and accounts where they can transfer the stolen money, they need a Sim swap to get the one-time password that the bank usually sends you via SMS.
Immediately they have all the above, they create beneficiaries and transfer the money to the beneficiaries.
The final step is the withdrawal of your money. In the case of ATM, the transfer is usually done shortly before midnight. That way, they can withdraw the maximum daily amount before midnight and the same amount immediately after midnight. After that, they destroy your card.
That’s how cybercriminals go about stealing the money from your online bank account. Now let’s look at how to secure your online banking:
How to secure your online banking
1. Excellent password practices
Securing your online banking begins with exercising good password practices. Some of the best password practices include:
not sharing your passwords with anybody
memorizing your passwords so that you don’t have to write them down
covering your passwords to make sure they are not seen when you enter them
use PIN and passwords that are difficult to guess. Avoid using your names, your family member’s names, number plates of your vehicles, your pets name, birth date, and so on
avoid reusing passwords
change your passwords regularly
if you suspect your bank account password or PIN is compromised, change it immediately
registering for notification services from your bank could keep you informed of any activities involving your account
2. Ensure you are logged into your bank’s real internet banking website
Phishing scams are on the increase. You have to ensure that you are on your bank’s site and not a fake website aimed at stealing your banking details.
avoid accessing your bank’s website through Google search. Instead, type in the web address. Using Google search could easily land you on a spoofed site
avoid clicking to links in emails purporting to originate from your bank. Such links may lead you to phishing websites
before you log into any website check whether it’s secure, make sure that the web address begins with https instead of http. An https website uses an SSL certificate to encrypt your data and protect it from cybercriminals
- remember to log out of your internet banking website after you are through with your banking activities
3. Use Separate emails for each of your online accounts
It is not wise to use a single email address for all your accounts. If a hacker gets your logging details, all your accounts get compromised, and the loss could be huge. Also, when you use different emails for each of your accounts, you can detect abnormal activity. For instance, if you receive a message in one of your email account about another of your email accounts, you can tell that someone is up to something because the accounts are unrelated.
4. Use Two-Factor Authentication
Two-Factor Authentication adds a level of security on your online banking account. Even where someone gets your login details like password and username they would be required to do something else like enter a code sent to your mobile phone via a text; tap a confirmation button on your smartphone or authentication using a security key to gain access to your account. It is advisable to enable two-factor authentication for your password manager.
5. Clear your cache
Saved searches, saved cookies and your web history could give away your sensitive data. Thus, it is advisable to clear your browser history and delete your browser cookies regularly.
6. Secure your PC
The PC you use for your online banking should be secure. Apart from ensuring that the software and browser you use are up to date and well patched, you must use a competent antivirus solution. An antivirus will among other things protect your PC from all sorts of malware and Trojans, ransomware, and phishing campaigns.
7. Use a VPN to Secure all your online activities including banking
The increase in cyber crimes such as hacking and identity theft requires us to protect all our online activities proactively. The best way to achieve this is by subscribing to the best VPN service. A VPN provides an encrypted tunnel where your data transits safely away from cybercriminals. You also get protection from prying eyes and thus browse the internet privately so that you are the only one who knows what you are doing.
A VPN will also enable you to access your bank account even when you are abroad. You simply connect to the VPN server in your country and spoof your location to appear as if you are accessing your internet banking website from your country. Furthermore, a VPN will enable you to access Geo-locked streaming services, and also get the best deals when shopping online.
5 best VPN services in 2021
Here are the 5 best VPNs that I recommend after testing more than 100 services.
1. NordVPN-excellent all-round service
Other important NordVPN features include:
- Unblocking more than 400 streaming services, including Amazon Prime and Netflix USA
- Supports torrenting with P2P optimized servers
- fast speeds on all servers
- double VPN (your traffic passes through 2 servers) for enhanced security
- CyberSec feature to block ads, malware, and phishing
- Location in Panama, a friendly VPN location
- 30-days money-back guarantee
2. ExpressVPN-excellent speeds for streaming and torrenting
Second, on my list of the best VPNs is ExpressVPN. The service blew me away with its blazing fast speeds. It supports streaming in HD quality without lags and the annoying buffering. ExpressVPN offers more than 3000 servers in 94 countries, which increases your possibility of unblocking services across the world. It works with Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Sky Go, YouTube TV, Hotstar India, among many more. I like its Split Tunneling feature that allows you to choose the apps you wish to go through the VPN’s encryption tunnel. If you reside in heavily censored countries like China and Iran, ExpressVPN offers obfuscation servers that go through the firewalls undetected. Its proprietary TrustedServer technology runs entirely on RAM storage, meaning all your data is wiped with every boot.
Other ExpressVPN features include:
- Strictly no-logs
- Allows up to 5 devices per license
- Provides a kill switch
- Allows torrenting on its network
- 256 AES encryption
- The British Virgin Islands, a friendly VPN location
- 30-day money-back guarantee
3. CyberGhost-easy to use service
If it’s your first time with VPNs, I recommend CyberGhost because it has the most friendly and easy-to-use apps for all your devices. It also has extensive server coverage adding up to 6800 servers in 90 countries. The servers are optimized for speeds to help you stream content and download files without buffering. CyberGhost unblocks more than 35 streaming services, including Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and more.
Other CyberGhost features of note include:
- Fast speeds, mainly if you use the nearest servers
- AES 256-bit encryption
- inbuilt kill switch
- Strictly no logs policy
- Location in Romania, a friendly VPN location
- Excellent for bypassing geo-blocks except for the Great Firewall of China
- 45-day money-back guarantee (on yearly plans)
4. Surfshark-budget-friendly VPN service
Want to secure your online activities, but your budget does not allow? Why not subscribe to Surfshark. It will only cost you $2.45/month. You still get premium VPN features, including the use of the highest encryption protocols, AES 256-bit encryption, and super unblocking capabilities. Surfshark unblocks 20 Netflix libraries across the world, including Netflix US. The service also works with Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, and many more. The VPN uses only RAM-based storage, ensuring that all your data is automatically wiped with every boot.
Other exciting features you get with Surfshark include:
- Excellent speeds for gaming and HD streaming
- Works on all platforms
- Unlimited device connection
- NoBorders feature excellent for Unblocking including the Great Firewall of China
- Strictly no-logs policy
- Whitelist for allowing you to choose the apps that pass through the VPN Tunnel
- 30-day money-back guarantee
5. IPVanish-reliable VPN service
Other important features working for it include:
- Allows unlimited device connections with one license
- breakneck speeds support gaming, torrenting, and streaming without lags and buffering
- Allows unlimited P2P connections
- AES 256-bit encryption
- Automatic kill switch
- Knowledgeable customer support with 24/7 live chat
- 70 day free trial on iOS and 30-day money-back guarantee
Final thoughts on how to secure your online banking
Knowing how cybercriminals steal your money from your internet banking account and how to secure your online banking from such criminals is essential. Following the tips discussed here will help you secure your online banking. Using any of the best VPNs in this article will protect all your online activities against hackers and snoops.