How to stay safe online

Consistently evolving to meet the latest consumer demands, tools which allow us to bank online have become sophisticated and intuitive – but they’re not the only ones. Unfortunately, on-line traps, spyware and hackers have also upped the ante.

Here, Canstar shares some important information to help you to protect your important information online.

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Safer passwords

Many IT specialists reinforce password strength as the most important factor to keeping your private information secure. The experts suggest opting for a unique password that contains a range of numbers, letters, symbols and cases, and can’t be easily guessed.

Using the same password for all of your accounts is like stealing candy from a baby. To make life harder for hackers, choose something completely different each time – trying to avoid using personal details such as addresses, birthdays and family names.

Password storage apps

Password storage apps are growing in popularity as a trusted tool to help manage the multitude of passwords we now have.

The apps often offer a range of features such as password generation, secure password storage, security alerts, auto-fill log-ins, and the ability to change passwords across platforms with a touch of a button.

Encrypted messaging

Another method to keep banking information safe online is to use encrypted messaging applications. Tools like this ensure that only yourself and the receiver have access to a message.

Internet providers, employees and government agencies, which are usually the middle ground in the communication process, are taken out of the equation due to the message being converted into a code. These apps feature a private key for both sender and receiver, which is the only feature that can decrypt the message, before view in word form.

Public WiFi security risks

For all financial transactions conducted online, it’s best to use only known networks and stay away from places like public WiFi as this increases the risk of compromised safety. Public internet connections aren’t protected and there’s a higher risk of “malware” – malicious software – being spread. It is also recommended to turn off your own WiFi and use your data where possible, to add another layer of protection.

Enable two-factor authentication (2FA)

Two-factor authentication is a security process where the user is required to provide two steps of verification to prove they are in fact the user. The first step in the verification process is usually a password, while the second step could be entering unique coordinate codes from a card, such as BNZ’s NetGuard battleship card. Or, there may be the option of receiving a text message with a unique code, or using facial and voice recognition to authenticate.

In April, accounting software provider MYOB called for the New Zealand government to make two-factor authentication compulsory.

This would follow in the footsteps of Australia, where late last year, the Australian Taxation Office mandated multi-factor authentication. MYOB’s submission also highlighted that more than a third of small-to-medium businesses have faced a cyberattack, with two-factor authentication an effective solution for data protection.

Regular checks

Hackers with access to our financial accounts don’t always drain them instantly, as small or even zero amount transactions are an increasingly common method to test whether these fraudulent transactions will be detected. If these are not flagged, cyber criminals may proceed to make larger purchases and withdrawals from your accounts until cards are cancelled.

The best way to combat this is to check your accounts regularly. That includes savings, every day and credit accounts, to ensure you’re aware of any suspicious activity and facilitate action before incurring significant losses. You can then report the faults to your bank and gain control over your account.

Security is a huge component of online banking. Take a look at Canstar’s comparison tool, below, to find a provider with optimal online banking offerings.

Compare online banking accounts with Canstar

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