David Papp Blog

Is Online Banking Safe

Even with news of hackers cracking into banks, we still continue to rely on banking services – specifically those online. However it’s still worth asking whether these services are safe to continue using.

After all, we want our money to be protected and to ensure that they are safe at all times.

Bank Hacking Isn’t Going To Go Away

Even though we have that expectation, our expectations aren’t always what’s happening in the real world. As we continue to use online banking for storage of our money for all kinds of things, the more appealing the prospect is for hackers to attack banks.

This is why major banks in recent years have been prime targets for all kinds of hacking attacks. Citigroup revealed that in 2011 alone, over 360,000 accounts were compromised in a hacking attack. This left 3,400 accounts suffering losses upwards of $2.7 million.

In 2012, Iranian hackers were said to be targeting Citigroup, Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase. When the hacks were reported, we all learned that the attacks had been happening for almost a year. Even as customers during that period were complaining about trouble accessing their accounts.

And in 2017, it was discovered our phones could be hacked into so hackers can get access to our bank accounts that way.

Even with light of all these things, I still consider online banking to be safe. Here is why.

You’re More Protected Than Ever

Even though hackers are attacking banks every single day, there is a silver lining to all of this. In order to respond to these attacks, banks have to constantly be updating their systems in order to block these attacks.

On top of that, even if a hacker ever gets money from your account, you will still have protection. If you’ve been safeguarding your personal information and report the loss as soon as you discover it, the bank is far more likely to reimburse your account.

In fact, federal law says that banks must reimburse stolen funds if it’s reported within 60 days.

The only catch to this is this applies only to individuals. If you have a business account and money gets stollen, you’ll have to look for alternative methods to be reimbursed.

Even with this protection though covering you from these hacks, it doesn’t mean you should be complacent. Online banking is safe but it also depends on how you are using it as well. So many cases, people fall for attacks that put them in extreme risks.

You’re At Risk If You Fall For These Things

There are four main types of attacks that are used to break into bank accounts. Hackers use these all the time and they can be highly effective if you’re not aware of them.

1. Phishing

First up is phishing. This tactic involves tricking someone into clicking a link that’s in an email message. That link then downloads software to a computer that can then be used to gather sensitive information. Things like usernames and passwords.

The link can also direct users to a seemingly legitimate website. From there, users would be prompted to provide confidential information that hackers can then use to access other accounts.

2. Identity Theft

Even if hackers aren’t stealing money directly, they still have account details. Those details can then be used for identity theft. This means others will be able to pose as you and provide personally identifiable information like social security number, date of birth, amongst other things.

Identity theft can happen in various ways but it’s usually as a result of phishing tactics.

The difference between these methods is that identity theft can also happen offline. This can be people digging through trash to find sensitive information from you (government letters, bank statements or notices, etc.) that you haven’t shredded. They can also steal your wallet too.

3. Keylogging

If you ever access online banking through public networks – ones that are find at Internet cafes or public Wi-Fi – there is a chance you could fall prey to this tactic. Keylogging involves software recording keystrokes that are used to log into sites. That information can then be used for users to gain account details.

4. Pharming

The last is pharming which is a little difficult for hackers to do, but it can happen. Pharming is where hackers hijack a bank’s URL and redirect you to a bogus website that looks similar to the real website. It rarely happens as banks are on top of those sorts of attacks, but some can slip through the cracks.

Actions To Take For More Protection

Being aware of those four types of attacks helps, but there are additional steps that you can take to ensure you’re doing online banking in a safe manner. These measures you can take are:

  • Ensure your bank is legitimate. Carefully read the information found on the site. It should be insured with the FDIC too. You can access the tool here.
  • Keep an eye out for copycat websites. Copycat websites will always have a misspelled url but in subtle ways. Examples are BankofAnerica (the “m” replaced with an “n”) or Citigrop (the “u” is dropped). Beyond this, avoid clicking on any emails your bank sends you. If they want to be contacting you, they’ll also be sending information through your actual bank account too.
  • Learn about your bank’s security system. All banks encrypt private information but how they do that varies from bank to bank. When you access their website, you should always see a lock or key icon next to the url.
  • Protect your computer. Hacking attacks aren’t always directed to banks. Hackers are free to be targeting you specifically as you can tell from phishing tactics and the like. The key here is to not get lazy and realize that your computer can also be attacked too. As such, it’s important that when logging in, you don’t speed up the log in process by allowing the bank to “remember the device” or have auto-fill passwords enabled. Hackers can spoof your IP address, basically making banks recognize that a hackers computer is actually your computer and hackers can then bypass security questions and procedures.
  • Getting a VPN. Virtual Private Networks are the ultimate safeguard for privacy. It simply adds another layer of protection, privacy and security for while you’re browsing online. You can do this entirely anonymously so you won’t have to worry about hackers or even your own internet service provider snooping at what you are doing.