Written by Rehan at OmeBiz
With there being an uprising within Sri Lanka in terms of technology, there has also been a shift in demand from customers to move into online banking. Many of the major banks in Sri Lanka have started to adopt or adopted online banking such as Sampath Bank, Commercial Bank, and HNB and to name a few.
This is no easy feat for any business or bank as there are high risks involved, especially when it comes to payments. With malicious software and weak operating systems, online banking can be an easy target for hackers or attackers to enter within the systems and benefit either from using personal information or funds.
The idea of online security is a ‘must’ in this day and age. If you feel like this would never happen to you, think again. There are hundreds of hackers attempting attacks on various areas of entry. It is much easier to hack following the year 2017 due to more data being put out on the internet. There have been numerous attacks on banks online services and other systems for a long time. The most recent attempt was on HNB which gained access to more than 4000 customers’ details in July 2017.
With this sort of traction, there will be an increase of movement from regular banking to the more convenient option of online banking and online payment. Usually, these large organizations do their part to increase their level of security. On the other hand, as the saying goes “prevention is better than cure”. Hence it is better to learn a few tips and tricks to ensure the safety of your data and devices.
A few weapons to defend yourself with –
1. Try not to use public Wi-Fi and public devices when logging in with bank details
Are you used to using public Wi-Fi at your favourite restaurant, shopping mall or barista? You might want to reconsider using it before you click that bank/payment app. Since the network is pretty much open to the entire public without proper security, this would put your device at risk. Though many banking applications have security protocols you never know who is ready to exploit them.
Use of mobile data would be a wise choice when logging your bank details. If you do have to use public networks, install a virtual private network (VPN). This keeps your internet activity relatively controlled and safe.
Relating to public devices such as laptops, computers and so on, since you have no idea who used the device last that system might have been or is currently compromised by either virus-like malware or spyware. If you were to enter your details into a said computer you would be more susceptible to being hacked.
2. Use the application endorsed by your particular bank
Ensure that you download and install the right program set by your bank. These would normally be found in the major app stores such as Google or Apple. App companies need to go through a verification process with Google or Apple to ensure legitimate security for their users.
Most large banks have an additional layer of security know as a two-step authenticator. This would allow you to place another password on top of your original password or pin details. There are other methods such as; if your account is being logged in the bank would then send you either an email or text message of a unique code which would be needed to be entered. This is a quick and efficient way of ensuring your account safety.
Online banking portals have added convenience to customers’ experience. They would no longer have to make long phone calls to their respective banks or even spend time stuck in traffic on the way to their banks. Everything could now be done by just the touch/click of a button. Leading banks such as: Commercial, HNB, and Sampath have developed outstanding online banking portals that has provided a competent platform to all users.
3. Switch off your Bluetooth if not in use
Is your Bluetooth always switched on? When dealing with smartphones we tend to take a back seat when it comes to safety. However, have you heard of Bluebugging or Bluejacking? There are hackers who use the power of Bluetooth to gain access to your mobile devices and gain functionality.
4. Make sure that your address has HTTPS://
Typically recognized websites that handle sensitive data have encryption methods in place. The way encryption works is it jumbles up all the data within the page before sending it. It is necessary for banks to have encryption as it keeps your information safe and secure. To ensure you are protected always have a look for the locked keypad and if the first word in your online browsers address bar would be “https://”. If you are looking to maximize your encryption level there are HTTPS extensions for nearly every online internet browser.
5. Be aware of spam emails and fake websites
We sometimes take the very simplest things for granted. This step follows that you always ensure that the domain names and email names are in correlation to the company you decide to use. If you are not sure of the domain names and email names you could always go to the about page of the service and give them a call or get other details.
Know that your bank will never send you an email or text message asking you to confirm or send your personal details. If you’ve come across these type of emails or text it is most likely spam. If you are ever unsure you can contact your bank via telephone or reach them from their official company website.
Ways to combat this would be to check the authenticity of the email sender. An example would be if you get an email stating it is your bank, its email address would not be [email protected] It is highly unlikely that anyone would try to send you a large sum of money to your bank account if you send them your personal details over an email. If you come across any of these scams report them to your email or network provider.
6. Keep your apps up to date
Regardless of the device whether it is your phone or laptop ensure that you regularly update your applications. This is a very straightforward security precaution as applications regularly update their security patches and update their databases. This would improve your device’s performance as well as ensure more secure protocols.
Likewise, ensure your antivirus is up to date. Hackers are constantly working ways to compromise people’s data to benefit themselves. Antivirus systems work hard to find these new types of viruses and update their database to ensure that your systems are not compromised. Good antivirus systems ensure to scan your emails, browsers, system files and block pop-ups. Do not forget to get them on your Mac and Android devices too.
7. Private browsing or use Incognito mode for banking (CTRL+SHIFT+N)
Have you been in the situation where you are using someone else’s computer and you forgot to log out? Private browsing or Incognito mode would sort this issue for you. This basically allows you to browse the internet without anything from that sessions input being saved. This also ensures that you are automatically logged off from anything you logged in, once the browser is closed. Though this may sound like gold, it should be used as a last resort as there are still weaknesses within using these systems. Spyware viruses like keyloggers can be installed on the device system which would compromise any key you physically type in. It also does not help you if the Internet connection is compromised either by the network administrator from work or if you use a compromised public network.
8. We saved the best for last
Ensure that you change your password every once in a while. Changing your password is something that we all feel is a chore. However, this simple task could really help ramp up your security. Make sure to use upper and lower cases, also the addition of numbers and symbols makes it more difficult to hack. Also, do not keep the same password for other website login details. This is because if your password is compromised in one system, it might be compromised on another.
So there you have it; 8 basic tips that could help strengthen your security. Keep these tips in mind whenever you do your online banking or any other monetary transaction. Leave us your comments below if you found this helpful and if we missed a few points.