In this time of electronic networking and online banking, your community bank should be committed to maintaining the privacy and security of your account information, whether accessed online, in person or via any other method. There are a few simple steps that can be taken to reduce your risk from cyber-criminals that are hard at work each day trying to steal your identity or account information.
Your online banking platform should expire passwords periodically to help increase your overall security profile. Although this can be frustrating at times, it helps protect your account information. It is highly recommended to utilize different passwords for any e-banking sites, which should not be the same passwords used for any social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter. It may seem inconvenient to maintain multiple passwords, however, it wouldn't take long for a hacker to access all of your account information once your password was stolen or compromised if you use the same one.
Your financial institution should also require strong passwords. Strong passwords consist of a combination of letters, numbers and special characters. A short phrase is ideal. Whatever you chose, make your password unique and never write it down. If you have multiple sites requiring passwords, you can utilize a password protected spreadsheet listing the user IDs and passwords. Just make sure this spreadsheet is password protected with your most complicated password of all.
It is never a good idea to login to a banking site via a wireless hot spot or any unsecured network. Only access financial data from a network that you know is secure.
Your financial institution will never email or text you requesting login information. They will also never ask for personal account information via email or text. Never respond to an email or text message that asks for this type of information if you receive it. Emails from fraudulent sources are referred to as “phishing” and fraudulent text messages are referred to as “smishing.” If you have been taken advantage of online, report it immediately to your institution and the authorities.
Make sure you always log off when you are finished with your online banking session, whether you are at home, work or on your mobile device.
Hackers are at work every day trying to steal personal or account information. Be diligent with what you share and remember that your financial institution will never ask for your PIN or password. By following the steps mentioned above and by keeping your anti-virus and anti-malware up-to-date, you can enhance your online security profile and reduce your chances of having your account information compromised. In a world where cyber-criminals are constantly at work, be constantly on guard to protect yourself from them.
Deena Bradley is senior vice president and information security officer at Magnolia Bank.