The ability for online banking has made our lives simpler. We can bank from the comfort of our homes, or anywhere in the world without having to go to a physical branch. Cryptocurrency has also brought investors a new revenue stream that keeps on growing. While all this is great, there is a risk involved when it comes to using financial information on the internet.
One of the greatest risks to your financial data is phishing. Cybercriminals will pose as banks or retailers and will use phishing messages to get you to give up your banking username and password. For instance, you may receive a message purportedly from your bank asking you to click on a link to verify the details of a transaction. The link will direct you to a fake bank website designed to harvest your credentials when you log in.
Another way scammers can steal your information is by getting you to download malware in the guise of software or any app. Users can be tricked into downloading these trojans by either phishing emails, or by creating fake versions of popular software. Either way, once the trojan is on your computer or mobile device, it will monitor your computer or smartphone for any financial transactions and send the relevant information back to the attackers.
If you think you may have fallen victim to any of these scams, it is best to call your bank and the authorities as soon as you become aware of it. You should also change your passwords immediately and begin using multifactor authentication on your accounts.
The same types of scams exist for those with cryptocurrency. Cybercriminals love to target cryptocurrency because it is more difficult to trace than traditional finances. This is because cryptocurrency is decentralized. Consequently, if you lose your cryptocurrency, it is unlikely that you will receive it back from your financial institution in the event of fraud.
With all this in mind, here are some steps you can take to protect your financial information online. These steps work for both traditional banking and cryptocurrencies.
- Use a strong password for all your accounts.
- Use multifactor authentication for your financial and email accounts. By using multifactor authentication, you make it much more difficult for a cybercriminal to breach your computer or accounts.
- Don’t use public wi-fi to view your financial accounts online. This may seem like a no-brainer, but people get bored in airports and decide that it is a good time to check their bank accounts. In addition to public wi-fi being insecure, anyone can look over your shoulder and view what you are doing. When you need to bank online, it is always best to do so in private over a secured internet connection.
- Be wary of phishing emails. Always check the links and the header information before you click on links. If you are unsure of the legitimacy of an email, always contact the sender via their official website (not the link in the email) and call their support phone number.
- Call your financial institution. Sometimes, those phishing emails, text messages and phone messages sound convincing. The best way to be sure is to contact your bank directly and ask them. Don’t call the phone number in the suspicious message, rather, call the number on the back of your bank card or go into the branch.
- Avoid downloading malicious apps and software. Even if you only use the official app store to download apps, on occasion sometimes a malicious app does squeak through. Check through the app reviews and comments, sometimes people will mention that they were scammed by the app, or that it does not work correctly.
By following these six steps, you can take some of the risks out of online banking and cryptocurrency. Change your passwords if you suspect your account has been compromised and contact your bank and authorities if you suspect anything has been stolen.