A study from Juniper Research predicts that by 2024 the number of digital banking users will surpass 3.6 million, which will be a 54 percent increase compared to the numbers from 2020. However, the cyber security risks an average user faces every day are endless. Considering that, users will have to upgrade their security strategy if they want to keep their credentials and funds safe and sound.
ONLINE BANKING RISKS
Online banking has many perks – you can have access to your bank account 24/7, pay the bills and shop from the comfort of your home, and even transfer funds and manage your account settings without ever visiting a bank. Nevertheless, there are treats that every user should bear in mind. Thus, we’ve listed a few most common threats people face while using online banking services.
In phishing attacks, cyber-criminals posing as reputable sources try to trick people into giving them access to their sensitive data. Since the success of a phishing spree depends on the authenticity of the bait, hackers are putting extra effort into creating incredibly believable messages and emails corresponding to those you would receive from your bank. Those emails often contain a malicious link or an attachment designed to collect your personal information as soon as you click on them. This could compromise your credit card information, social security number, or login credentials and lead to a potential disaster. Thus, keep in mind to double-check every email you receive, especially from your bank or some other source you usually trust.
2. DDoS attack
DDoS stands for Distributed Denial of Service, and it involves multiple interconnected devices whose task is simulating net traffic to overwhelm the target website with requests and ultimately prevent the website from functioning correctly. These kinds of attacks can prevent customers from accessing their banking accounts and disrupt the proper functioning of the bank’s system. However, DDoS attacks alone can’t severely damage the banking IT system, but they can be a bad omen. As we know, misfortunes never come singly. Hackers often use DDoS attacks to distract the security team while carrying out another cyber attack whose purpose is to steal users’ sensitive data, which can be used to commit various fraudulent activities on their behalf and access their funds. Given that Imperva has reported a 30 percent increase in DDoS attacks targeted at the financial industry, banks and customers will have to work their fingers to the bone if they want a bulletproof cyber security strategy that’ll be able to stand against these kinds of multi-front cyber attacks.
3. Vulnerable mobile apps
The best way to avoid malicious malware damaging your system is to download your mobile banking app from your bank’s website because it’s the only way of making sure that your app is a legitimate one. However, the war for securing your banking account doesn’t stop here, which means that all of your apps have to be malware-free if you want a secure and reliable system. For example, a mobile game from an untrusted source can have malware that stays dormant until a user launches a legitimate baking app. The malware will then create a pop-up that looks exactly like the login page of the banking app. After entering login information, the user will be transferred to the legitimate banking app site without ever noticing someone took their credentials and that they’ve been scammed.
Even though banks are trying to improve their mobile banking systems and make them more secure daily, there is a limit to what they can do to protect your credentials. The rest is on you. If you want to protect your banking account while on mobile, consider choosing a bank that implements multi-factor authentication to layer your protection and further secure your credentials.
4. Banking Trojan
Since there are quite a few breeds of malware beasts, you’ll need an entire arsenal to hunt them down. One of the most dangerous menaces facing the financial industry is the banking trojan. Its job is to obtain confidential information that is processed through the banking system. Just like the Greeks managed to trick poor Trojans into believing that they’re offering them a present, banking trojans like to pretend to be pious little creatures until you realize that they’ve been stealing your sensitive data all along. They often disguise as software with a legitimate purpose, and what’s more alarming, they’re impossibly tricky to detect since they commonly have hiding capabilities or tend to use some obfuscation. Therefore, today we have whole families of related banking malware, with each member of the family focused on a specific malicious task. One of the best-known families has been Zeus, with an array of malware aimed at grabbing users’ credentials, redirecting to fake websites, and altering web pages. At the same time, Gozi has been a true pioneer in the banking malware game. His job is to steal credentials stored in browser apps and track keystrokes to hijack your financial transactions later. It has been making havoc for quite some time now, but it became even more dangerous after code leakage, which led to further developments of the initial malware.
TIPS TO SECURE YOUR ACCOUNT
1. Keep a good password practice
When you think of securing your accounts, you probably think of passwords since they have been the gatekeepers of our online treasures since the beginning of the internet era. Well, you’re not wrong, but you need to make sure that the password guarding your online banking account is exceptionally secure and resilient. When creating a password, keep in mind that it has to be at least twelve characters long, with a unique combination of lowercase and uppercase letters, symbols, and numbers. Don’t store your passwords on your devices under any circumstances, and create a separate password for every account you use. Also, using personal information like names, dates, and pet names is always a bad idea since these kinds of passwords are the easiest to break. However, if you want to bring your password security to another level, switch to a password manager. It’s an excellent addition to every security plan since it stores all of your passwords in one place, and you’ll have to remember only one master password to access all your accounts. Furthermore, a password manager encrypts all the data, meaning that even if someone steals your credentials, they won’t be able to misuse it since it’s going to be just a pile of gibberish to them.
2. Use a VPN
If you want to secure all your online activities at once, you can easily do so with a VPN. A Virtual Private Network is a service that’ll direct all your online traffic through an encrypted tunnel, meaning that every piece of data you send to the internet first has to meet with your VPN server. A VPN server will scramble the data to make it unreadable to anyone who wants to steal it, and then it will be sent further to the intended destination. This way, your sensitive information will stay safe and much less susceptible to potential attacks. Today most VPN services offer apps to protect all your devices, which is especially important when you consider that 79 percent of people reported that they’d used their phone to make a purchase in the past six months. Thus, make sure to properly secure your phone before making any big purchases.
3. Avoid public WiFi
Consider public networks as a playground for cyber-criminals – there’s an endless array of opportunities to play with, and your data tends to be everyone’s favorite toy. Thus, the best security practice is to consider public WiFi as an in-case-of-emergency kind of a resort. Use it only when you absolutely need it, like when you have to send an important email or attend a very important meeting, and you can’t come by a more secure connection. If you can, avoid making any transactions while connected to a public WiFi. Hackers have all kinds of tricks up their sleeves to hurt you, but they’re especially keen on posing as someone you usually trust to obtain your sensitive data. They often set up WiFi networks with legitimate-sounding names corresponding to those you would consider safe, just to monitor your online activities and steal your credentials while you’re connected. For this reason, if you have to use a public network, choose password-protected ones since they tend to be more secure than open networks that don’t require passwords to connect.
4. Use secure websites
If you want to make sure the website you’re visiting is secure, check the site’s URL. Websites whose URL starts with HTTPS tend to be much more secure since they use encryption to keep the connection between you and the domain private. On the other hand, HTTP is the same thing without encryption which means that data you exchange with the domain can be copied and manipulated. This is especially important to bear in mind when you’re online shopping – don’t trust your credentials with HTTP websites if you don’t want your assets swiped off your account. Also, check out the little padlock in front of the URL – browsers can detect unsecured websites and flag them with crossed-out padlocks.
Even though cyber-security needs to be at the top of our minds whatever we do, thinking about elevating our security strategy while watching cat videos on YouTube is not a realistic expectation. However, some online activities tend to prioritize designing a functional protective framework, and online banking and securing online accounts tend to be at the top of the list. Thus, make sure to adjust your security strategy according to these activities. Also, if you’re not sure where to start to adequately protect your assets, turn to your bank for advice. Most banks today offer a security consultation for their customers to help them protect their accounts.