The majority of payments are processed online today. Barely a few years ago, we perceived security concerns to be a major problem. Issues such as phishing, pharming, and identity theft reigned supreme. Truth be told, nothing has changed. Cybercriminals are more emboldened than ever, using a combination of sophisticated and rudimentary techniques to pilfer information, infiltrate security systems, and wreak havoc on the lives of everyday folks. Fortunately, there are ways to enhance the security of your online financial transactions, and it all begins by implementing a variety of safeguards.
- Use a password manager: Passwords are the backbone of security for any online account, including financial accounts. If a hacker obtains your login credentials, they could gain access to your account and wreak havoc on your finances. Strong passwords that are at least eight characters long and include letters, numbers, and special characters are ideal. Unfortunately, it can be hard to remember multiple strong passwords, which is where password managers come in handy. These tools generate unique passwords for each of your accounts and store them securely so that you only need to remember one master password to access all of your other accounts.
- Use two-factor authentication: Two-factor authentication (2FA) adds an extra layer of security to your online accounts by requiring you to provide two pieces of information before being granted access. The first piece is typically something you know, such as a password or PIN number. The second piece is usually something you have, such as a smartphone or physical token that generates one-time codes. 2FA makes it much more difficult for hackers to gain access to your accounts because even if they obtain your login credentials, they would also need to have possession of your 2FA device in order to logging in successfully.
- Avoid public Wi-Fi: Public Wi-Fi networks are notoriously insecure because they lack encryption and authentication measures that protect the data being transmitted over the network from being intercepted by third parties. If you must use public Wi-Fi, be sure to connect only to networks that require a password for access and avoid accessing sensitive information like online banking or shopping accounts while connected.
- Keep your software up-to-date: Cybercriminals often exploit vulnerabilities in outdated software programs to gain access to people’s computers and devices without their knowledge or consent. That’s why it’s important to keep all the software on your devices—including operating systems, web browsers, plugins, and applications—up-to-date with the latest security patches. Many software programs have automatic update features that install new updates as soon as they become available so you don’t have to worry about manually updating them yourself on a regular basis.
- Use account verification security protocols: Many financial institutions offer some form of account verification, such as email validation, text message, or document uploads. You might see these processes in the withdrawal policies of an online casino. Many banking methods notify you whenever someone tries to log in to your account from an unrecognized device or location. This allows you to quickly act to secure your account if it’s being accessed without your permission.
- Be cautious with email attachments and links: Email is one of the most common ways for cybercriminals to deliver malware, which is why it’s important to be cautious with email attachments and links. If you receive an unsolicited email from someone you don’t know or an unexpected attachment from someone you do know, exercise caution before opening it. Hover over links to see where they lead before clicking on them and only download attachments from trusted sources.
- Use a VPN: A virtual private network (VPN) encrypts all the data being transmitted between your device and the VPN server, making it much more difficult for hackers to intercept and read your information. This is especially important when using public Wi-Fi networks, as they lack the encryption measures needed to protect your data from being intercepted by third parties. Many VPN providers offer both free and paid plans, so you can choose the option that best fits your needs and budget.
- Shop at reputable online retailers: When shopping online, be sure to only shop at reputable retailers that use SSL (secure socket layer) encryption to protect their customers’ information. You can usually tell if a website is encrypted by looking for https:// in the URL instead of http://. You should also look for a padlock icon in the address bar, which indicates that the site is using SSL encryption.
- Use a credit card instead of a debit card: Credit cards offer better protection against fraud than debit cards because federal law limits your liability for fraudulent charges made on your credit card to $50 . Additionally, most credit card issuers have zero-liability policies that further protect you from being held responsible for fraudulent charges made on your card. Debit cards don’t have the same level of protection, so it’s generally best to use a credit card when shopping online or making other financial transactions online
These 9 tips will make it much easier for you to safeguard the integrity of your transactions when you transact online!