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Maximising online security while banking

Category Personal Finance

An image of secure banking

By Nigel Bowen

While online banking is convenient, it does create opportunities for criminals to raid your accounts.

Banks invest a lot of time and money into online security in order to ensure that neither they nor their customers have money stolen during online transactions. When theft does occur, however, it usually could have been avoided had some simple precautions been taken.

Passwords

Your online banking password is like your house’s front door lock. Chances are you wouldn’t have a poor quality lock on your front door or hand out keys to it freely, but many come to grief by taking that kind of approach to their cyber security. As thieves know, the three most popular PINs in the world are 1234, 1111 and 0000. If you have an easy-to-remember password, you also have one that’s easy to guess.

You may think you’re being clever by using digits related to your birthday or that of your children, but if anyone can access that information, they can also work out your password. A random series of at least eight numbers or letters (or, ideally, both as well as special characters such as # or @) is your best bet. The only downside of this approach is that you may need to keep a record of the password somewhere if you’re unable to remember it. Never store it on your computer. If you can, have it written on a piece of paper kept in a safe.

No matter how ingenious your password, you’re weakening your online security if you hand it out to family members, your accountant or, in the case of business accounts, staff members. If others need to access your account for any reason, get your bank to provide them with their own login.

Phishing

A phishing email is one that purports to be from your bank and that, on some pretext, requests your login details, personal details or account details. Banks never send emails asking for these details so, no matter how convincing the email looks, if it asks for this kind of information, it is fraudulent. Delete it immediately. Do not click on any of its links and do not reply to it. If you ever have any doubts about the authenticity of a bank email, ring to check it’s genuine (you can reach RaboDirect’s customer service team on 1800 445 445).

Good online hygiene

Try to do your online banking from your own computer and avoid doing it on one that many people have access to. Type out your bank’s URL into the browser rather than clicking on a link from an email or third-party website. When you’ve finished your banking, always log out using the appropriate icon (which should be in the top right corner of the screen) then close the browser window.

Take advantage of added security

Banks spend millions developing security software packages that they offer to their customers for free. Programs such as Rabobank’s TrustDefender Pro secure the connection between your computer and the bank and stop any applications that put you at risk while you’re logged in, as well as ensuring you’re made aware of any potential security threats. The RaboDirect Digipass adds an extra veil of security to this.

Thankfully, web-banking fraud remains relatively rare, but it’s wise to minimise the risks wherever possible.

 

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