Internet banking is safe, provided you follow the security best practices. This article discusses different ways you can protect your personal information and prevent cyber frauds from happening to you.
Years back, banking operations were manual and limited within the boundaries of a bank. Today new technologies have changed the way we transact. Banks are now accessible from all corners of the world.
In this regard, what can be more convenient than Internet Banking? Whether it’s fund transfer, bill payment, credit card information, or FD creation- internet banking has a fast and hassle-free solution to our banking needs. Earlier you had to go to the bank and stand in queues. With internet banking you just have to log in to it and find everything at the touch of a button.
Is Internet Banking Safe?
With the rising instances of online frauds, the safety of internet banking is a matter of huge concern.
A joint report by Assocham and PwC reveals that there has been a 324% increase in the money involved in online fraud cases in three years despite a 46 per cent decline in the number of cases.
Out of the total number of online frauds around 65 per cent of the total cases reported by banks are technology-related frauds (committed through internet banking channel, ATMs and other payment channels like credit/debit/prepaid cards).
According to the Minister of Communications and IT, cyber fraud cases worth ₹497 crore have been reported by the RBI and CBI since 2011.
Studies also reveal that fraudsters are devising new ways to exploit loopholes in technology systems and processes. In the case of frauds involving lower amounts, they employ hostile software programs or malware attacks, phishing, SMSishing and whaling (phishing targeting high net worth individuals) apart from stealing confidential data.
However, RBI says the primary responsibility of preventing frauds lies with banks. But is that good enough a reason to sit back and shrug off our own responsibility?
The fact is, Internet banking is safe provided the security measures are being followed. And as far as the security best practices are concerned, it all begins with protecting your personal information.
So, here are some do’s and don’ts of internet banking.
Internet Banking Safety Measures- Do’s
Visit Bank’s Website by Typing the URL: Access the bank’s net banking portal by typing the URL in the address bar. This is much safer than clicking on a random link from emails. Fraudsters often send emails with malicious website link to trick the user and steal their log in details and money.
To be on a safer side, simply type the URL or the bank’s name in search box. When you arrive on the desired webpage, look out for the ‘https’ and lock symbol at the beginning of URL.
Use Licensed Anti-Virus Software: Downloaded or pirated Anti-virus software might be free of cost but, they are not as effective as the licensed ones. Viruses are prevalent in the web world and a tiny loop hole is all they are looking for.
Therefore, always use the licensed anti-virus software and update them as soon as you get the notification. This will help protect your PCs or laptops as well as your personal information.
Change Your Password at Regular Intervals: After you receive your Net Banking credentials from bank and login to the portal, it usually asks you to change the password in the beginning.
Even if it doesn’t, you should consider changing it right after the first log in. Besides, you should change it at periodic intervals to protect your account.
Moreover, you should never share your password with anyone.
Turn off Internet when Not in Use: It’s always advisable to disconnect the internet and even turn off the computers when not in use. It not only halts the active sessions but also reduces the chances of hacking.
Besides, make sure you have logged out successfully from the net banking portal before leaving the computer.
Password Protect Your PCs and Laptops: If your net banking credentials are stored in your browser, it’s highly important to protect your PC or laptop with passwords. So that no one can access the windows in the first place.
Keep a Strong Password: The internet banking log in password should be a strong one consisting of alphabets, numeric, and upper case characters. You also use capitalized letters and make it too difficult to guess.
Most importantly, refrain from using specific names or numbers as your password.
The same holds true for every passwords across all online platform.
Keep Checking Your Emails: Transaction notifications through emails and SMS are instant alerts against any suspicious activity. Check your emails and SMS regularly and verify the authenticity of your transaction. if you find any discrepancy, inform your bank right away.
Use Latest Version of OS and Enable Firewall: The latest version of OS means improved security. The bugs are fixed and security issues, if any are resolved. Therefore, you should always use the updated versions.
Besides, you should enable firewall protection in your PC or laptop to strengthen the security. It will prevent hackers from accessing your PCs when connected to internet.
Check the Last Login Details: By keeping a track on the last login details will help you identify the time and date mentioned. If you find something wrong make sure it’s reported at the bank immediately.
Be Careful While Accessing Net Banking Outside: Logging in to the net banking portal at your workplace or using a wireless connectivity involves certain amount of risk. If the computers in your work place have installed key loggers, it can monitor your online activities. Anyone with this information can easily steal your login credentials and money as well.
Similarly, if you are using your friend’s computer, make sure the login details are not being stored in the browser. Clear the history, cache and auto fill data after the transaction. If you see any dialog box asking you to save the password, deny it immediately.
Internet Banking Safety Measures- Don’ts
Don’t Share Personal or Login Details with Anyone: I don’t think I have to tell you much about this particular security measure. This in fact applies to many online activities with regards to the security issues of debit card and credit card PIN, mobile banking, online payment and many more.
For internet banking, your login ID and password are the two most important things. And RBI has been extremely active in spreading the awareness in this context. To reiterate, never trust the emails/ SMS/ phone calls offering fake rewards.
Recommended Reading: how to your debit card online safely.
Don’t Use Cyber Cafes or Shared Computers: The computers at cyber cafes cannot be trusted with internet banking at all. Because, they may be using outdated anti-virus or operating system, that are prone to virus attacks.
Don’t Let a Computer Save Your Password: Convenience should never be exchanged with security. There are several banks in India whose net banking portals allow the browser to store the login details for ever. SBI is a big example of this.
As a net banking user of SBI since many years, I have always enjoyed the convenience of not having to enter the login details every time I pay bills or book tickets. Auto-fills features do take care of the names, login id and password.
This is definitely not a best practice. By doing this I am actually making my bank account vulnerable to online frauds.
But, with HDFC I find it safer. Even though I forget the password more often and reset it every time I have to login, I can rest assure that no one is misusing my login details in my absence.
However, the Internet Banking policies vary from bank to bank. Go through the details and follow the bank’s security protocols properly in order to protect your online banking activities.
Recommended Reading: debit card best practices.