A Detailed Guide to Safe Online Banking

The internet has made banking easier than ever. Thanks to faster transactions, efficient account management, and round-the-clock services, more and more people are switching to online banking. However, in the light of recent security breaches, it is evident that this practice comes with its own set of risks.

Here are the most common methods through which a user’s security is compromised:

MalwareMalware is a form of computer virus that installs itself on a user’s system. It is downloaded without the user's knowledge from infected websites or by piggybacking other software installations. Once inside the system, it can monitor the user’s activity and steal sensitive data such as Credit Card numbers, logins and passwords to banking websites.

You can read more about the different types of Malware here.

Phishing emailThese are sent by fraudsters pretending to be official authorities. They often ask for private information, claiming there is an issue with the account, or ask victims to visit a website or click on a link that causes a malware to be installed on their system.

Money muleThis scenario involves an attacker luring innocent victims with the prospect of making easy money. The attackers either demand an upfront investment or ask the victim for their bank details with the promise to transfer money. The victim then becomes an accessory to a crime as his/her account is used to transfer stolen money, untraceably.

Although these risks may seem daunting, they can be avoided through careful operation and constant vigilance of your online banking activities. Here are some steps you must take for a secure online banking experience:

Use genuine antivirus software

Antivirus software go a long way in keeping your system protected, and some also have the capability to identify phishing email and websites. It is important to invest in genuine antivirus software for your system. Don’t fall into the trap of fake and free antivirus software, which are available online. You should complement your antivirus with anti-malware software.

Avoid public Wi-Fi hotspots

Unsecured and public Wi-Fi hotspots are often tapped by hackers using tracers or Man-in-the-Middle (MiM) programs that can hack into your system and copy any sensitive information you enter in a particular session. If you do use public or workplace Wi-Fi hotspots, consider using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) service that can make your connection secure and untraceable.

Keep your devices up-to-date

Ensure that your personal computer and mobile devices have the latest security updates to keep them safe from exploitation by hackers. Update your mobile apps regularly. Do not disable the security features of your system in an attempt to ‘root’ or ‘jailbreak’ a device as it exposes them to hacker attacks.

Change passwords frequently

A general rule of the thumb is to change your passwords every three months, choosing strong ones. Use a paid and trusted password manager to remember your password rather than writing it down in a diary.

Use only secure websites

Never follow an email link to a bank website as hackers often set up proxy servers to steal sensitive data from gullible users. Check for the bank’s official URL/web address and make sure the website has an active SSL certificate (check if the URL in the address bar displays an https://).

Avoid using public computers

When accessing your bank account, it is advisable to use a personal system and your own Wi-Fi network. Public computers are likely to have certain software installed that can record the sites you visit and your keystrokes. This malicious software is called a 'key logger'. Never use a public Wi-Fi network as hackers will observe your online activity and capture sensitive information.

Keep a tab on your account activity

Most banking applications and websites allow one to check recent activity from the dashboard. Check and note the date and time of your last log in. Do this regularly to detect any suspicious activity early on. If this happens to be the case, report it to the bank officials so they can take action immediately and mitigate the risk of an attack.

Clearly, digital banking is a double-edged sword. While the risk of phishing and malicious attacks is always lurking, you can enjoy a secure banking experience by following these simple precautions.

HDFC Bank has a secure banking policy to protect you while your perform banking transactions online.  At HDFC Bank, we strive to give you a secure online banking experience. Learn all about banking online safely, and the measures we take to protect you here.

To enjoy a hassle-free and safe banking experience, click here.

* The information provided in this article is generic in nature and for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for specific advice in your own circumstances.