Internet banking: How to keep your money safe

Online banking on laptop

October is cyber security awareness month in Australia, and for many people there may not be anything more important online than their banking. Internet banking has become a staple, but just how safe are your accounts? 

Thankfully, financial institutions are aware of the importance of cyber security, particularly when it comes to protecting your money. Online banking accounts feature a range of safety measures in order to safeguard your information and funds against scams, malware and hackers who may try to access your personal information and money. 

While passwords or access codes are the first step in safeguarding your account, banks will often go to greater lengths to ensure your money is secure. These may include:

  • Encryption technologies 
  • Two-step or two-factor authentication
  • No password caching - meaning your information may not be stored in your browser information
  • Dedicated security and fraud detection teams
  • Account locking after a number of unsuccessful password attempts.

While these are some of the most common measures banks may take to protect your information, they may employ a range of other security factors according to their own policies. 

Spying a scam is crucial 

Despite stringent security measures, online banking isn’t without its risks. Scams searching for access to private bank accounts and information have peaked during the pandemic, with the ACCC reporting Australians have lost almost $200 million thus far in 2021. 

Investment scams lead the way as the most likely to take money from Australians, with close to $100 million being lost. Dating and romance follows with $32 million in losses, with false billing third at over $12 million in losses. 

While the top three methods of losing money to scams require Aussies to ‘voluntarily’ hand the funds over after being tricked, hacking and phishing for user data has accounted for over $5 million in losses thus far in 2021. Customers may not even be aware they’ve fallen victim to a hack or phishing scheme until the money disappears from their account. 

Ways to keep your banking information safe

It may seem obvious, but keeping your passwords, logins and security codes completely private is a big step towards cyber safety. This means not sharing that information with friends or family, who may not be as safe or trustworthy with that information as yourself (whether intentional or not), and not keeping them written down somewhere.

If you’re the kind of person who has trouble remembering passwords and codes and writing them down may be necessary, ensure you keep them somewhere safe. This may be an encrypted notebook online, or you may prefer to write it on a physical piece of paper and take your information offline. 

A few other ways to keep your internet banking information as secure as you can include: 

  • Using different passwords for each website and account you access
  • Adding special characters and numbers to your passwords, making them harder to guess. Do not use common words or number sequences
  • Don’t access online banking on unsecured public Wi-Fi networks
  • Frequently clear your browser’s cache to clear stored information collected from different websites
  • Always log out after accessing your online banking accounts.

These are just a few methods you can use to safeguard your online banking information, and the government offers its own cyber security tips you may also want to make use of. The government is particularly focused on cyber security for seniors, as they are targeted most frequently by scammers.

The last, and perhaps most important step to safeguarding your internet banking accounts, is to contact your bank as soon as you notice something out of the ordinary or suspicious. This may be an unauthorised transaction on your account, or perhaps a spam email that is made to look like it has come from your bank. You should also take these steps if you ever lose your bank card or you believe your login or account information has been compromised. 

Cyber security awareness month is the perfect time to update your passwords and ensure your information is as safe as possible.

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