How to protect your financial data online

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Performing banking and financial transactions using mobile apps and laptops has become increasingly common for most of us. The downside of this digital explosion is that the risks of compromising your data and your hard-earned money are greater than ever. As banks and financial institutions constantly try to strengthen their defenses against these malicious attackers, it continues to be a race with no finish line for them.

That said, being aware of the risks and adopting a few simple practices could significantly reduce the risk of compromise during an online transaction.

The first simple rule is to make sure you use strong passwords wherever needed. Unfortunately, complex passwords are difficult to remember. A simple and effective tactic to increase complexity is to use longer phrases that are easier to remember as passwords. For example, the phrase “Try Breaking 1n 1f You Can!” is easier to remember even with the use of uppercase first letters and numeric digits replacing the letter “I” with “1” for words beginning with “I”. of us write down our passwords and store them on our devices. But a better way to store passwords is to use “password locker” apps. These allow you to use a single key to access all your passwords contained in the locker and encrypt the stored passwords which secure the passwords against compromise. However, it is important to use a trusted app, as these apps hold the key to all your passwords. Although there are many commercial and free apps for locking or managing passwords, it is best to use the apps reviewed. and rated by reputable technology review portals. If you use Apple devices, you can simply use the iCloud KeyChain, which is backed by Apple’s reliability. Also, as opposed to opting for OTPs, using authenticator apps, which generate your second -factor code, may be a more secure option where supported. The use of authenticator apps such as Google Authenticator or Microsoft Authenticator is increasingly supported by various online services, and wherever this option is available, it is recommended to use it.

The second major area to focus on is the software on your mobile devices. It is essential to keep your device up to date with the latest software, the basic device software (Android or iOS), as well as the latest versions of the individual applications installed on the device. Applications are constantly being improved to strengthen security as well as to address issues and vulnerabilities. You can also set up an auto-update schedule on your device, which ensures apps are updated automatically.

Another aspect is making sure your devices are free of viruses, malware, or ransomware. These are malicious pieces of software that can get into your device software from the internet or when you connect external storage devices like USB drives to your device. Installing good virus protection software on your device greatly reduces this risk and it is important to ensure that this software is updated automatically. Using non-personal or public computers is a strict ‘no’ for performing financial transactions, as you have little control over what might be on that device. For example, keyloggers on these devices can capture what you type, including your passwords! The same goes for using public Wi-Fi connections, which should be avoided.

The next area is to avoid being duped by Internet scammers. This can take several forms. Make sure that any links you type into the browser’s address bar are correct. A small typo in what you type can redirect you to a malicious site. These sites can easily capture sensitive information such as passwords by appearing authentic and allowing you to keep trying to log in with your credentials. If you suspect you’ve done this inadvertently, change your passwords immediately. Another simple check is to verify that the page is a secure HTTPS website. In most cases, you can spot it as a lock symbol that appears next to the address/URL. This indicates that the site is recognized by a trusted third party and that all traffic to this site is encrypted.

Harish Prasad is responsible for the bank, FIS.

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