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How to protect your online banking info

Banking online can make bill payments convenient and keeping track of your finances a snap. However, you should be aware of what software you can use and what choices you should make to keep your financial data secure.

The first step towards online security should be making sure you have an anti-virus program installed and kept up to date. Lately I’ve used the free versions of AVG or Avast!, thought I plan to try Microsoft Security Essentials the next time I install of Windows.

A firewall should also be used. Most Windows users likely have the Windows Firewall activated, though the free versions of Zone Alarm and Comodo may offer more security since they question almost every action when first installed.

The passwords you choose can create a huge risk to the security of your banking info. Using passwords such as your maiden name, birth date, or home town may be easy to remember, but it’s also likely that someone could find this information and guess your password. Maybe you have a great password that includes numbers and symbols and would be impossible to guess? That’s a good start, but if you use that same password on every site and it becomes compromised, everything you have online could be accesses. To be best protected, you need a different, secure password for every site. You should also consider changing your passwords after a certain period of time. To help organize and remember these try KeePass, it’s a free program that can protect all your passwords with one master password.

Beware of phishing emails. These are emails that ask you to log into your bank or PayPal and ask you to log in to update your password or other information. The problem is that what the link takes you to may look like the actual site but are actually fake version designed to capture your passwords and other important information. Never click a link asking you to log in. Even if you think it’s legit, go to the site on directly from your browser and log in there.

Taking these steps will help to keep you secure when you bank online. However, since new threats could appear at any time, keep your software up to date and consider the risks when using email and your internet browser.


  1. Craig

    I’d like to think that any online banking has top the line online security. Not to say that something still can’t go wrong, but banks should have the best availalbe.

  2. 2 Cents

    Great advice – I have been a little lax in this area lately and I think I need to change and organize my passwords. It’s just dizzying how many usernames and passwords are required nowadays.

    Maybe some budding entrepreneur can make this easier for us? I’m going to look into KeePass. I’m not familiar with them at all. Thanks for the info!

  3. Kevin@OutOfYourRut

    I have to confess to being a certified dinosaur on this issue. I don’t bank online for the very concerns addressed in this post.

    But this is very good information, enough that I may have to rethink my direction.

  4. youngandthrifty

    Good information! One of my friends swears by not using the internet AT ALL to do ANY of his banking/credit card balance checking. He says it’s way too easy to hack!

    Do you know if apple macs are any safer? I know that there are no firewalls that need to be installed…

  5. Tax Guy

    I agree that anti-virus software, a firewall and a strong password are good and valid points.

    If you ever log in to a site that contains personal information (banking, credit card or profile), you’ll need to recognize if the site itself is using security.

    One tell tale sign is a golden “lock” that appears either in the lower part of Internet Explorer or in the address line. If you can’t find the Golden lock, thing again about logging in.

  6. Edwin

    From a security point of view it’s a small investment to obtain one of the paid AV solutions, like for example Kaspersky – Sunbelt’s Vipre – Avira or Eset Nod32

    Those are some of the top AV solutions, AVG is compatible with a lot of other solutions, so you can have a free and paid solution running at the same time.

    Use AVG to run daily scans on demand and use other software for daily scans and real time protection.

    AVG can also in some cases use its real time protection, but that depends on the secondary AV you would use.

    Ideally speaking you would use a stand alone device to do your online banking on…and nothing else!

    Thus no visits to other websites, not even main stream websites as advertisements on these websites are often abused by malicious people to install malware into your browser by Flash or other means.

    Use the stand alone only for online activities like online banking / PayPal, etc…nothing else.

    Interesting story here on this by the way:

    You install a top notch firewall on your stand alone computer, for example ZoneAlarm.

    And a stand alone computer just for online banking doesn’t have to tricked out with the latest stuff, you have some decent priced net-books for $300 that does the trick just fine.

    A small investment for eliminating virtually all risks associated working with very sensitive information and accounts that are accessible online compared to machines that are used for every day stuff.

    Either by you alone or family members as well.

    Don’t install any other software (Apart from your AV software) on the computer other then what you need to do your financial stuff and make sure it comes from trusted sources, for example spreadsheet software, etc

    All is left to do when you want to do your online banking, which is best to do on a non-WiFi connection no matter how securely you think it is — is to switch your regular machine for the stand alone and you reduced your risk by 99% for any wrong doing by 3rd parties to your online banking activities.

    Thanks for letting me add my 2 cents. 🙂

  7. Anthony

    Thanks for the advice. When you run an online business, it is easy to become to “familiar” or “complacent”. But we can’t forget the risks that come with the convenience.

  8. Online Banking Union (OBU)

    Very good advice you have here and most online banking users will benefit well if they followed your advice. We at OBU always stress to our member banks that user education is one of the best tools to prevent negative user experiences.

    The reality is however less straight-forward. Our studies have shown that many users feel like they already know how to use online banking facilities and are resistant to online manuals and other initiatives by banks to educate users. It is only when something negative happens that the user will take the time to consult with manuals but it is often too late when the experience can’t be reversed.

  9. Dan

    OSFI submission to US regulators regarding consultation on restrictions on proprietary trading.

    For those who believed the idiotic notion that Canadian banks were the safest in the world and didn’t participate in any super-leveraged proprietary trading with hedge funds and private equity firms, must now think again.

    As per the letter above sent by OSFI to The US Treasury, Federal Reserve, FDIC and SEC reveals, Canadian banks are in fact at risk to new US regulations that may potentially undermine the financial condition of Canadian banks operating in the US.

    “OSFI is concerned that the draft regulations may have the unintended consequence of significantly impeding Canadian and other foreign financial institutions’ ability to manage their risks in a cost-effective manner, which could give rise to prudential concerns in Canada and abroad.”

    OSFI goes on:

    “In other words, OSFI would not wish to see US regulators taking actions that may enhance the stability of their financial system at the cost of undermining the stability of other systems around the world.”

    And there you have it folks, more exemptions and further deregulation, because as Howard Green from BNN curiously asked Bill Downe ‘How do all the banks continue to report double digit increases in annual earnings when Canadian GDP is stuck where it is?” Bill Downe replies “Well it’s business.”

    And business it is with $700 trillion waging in the hyper-leveraged OTC derivatives shadow market, where a 100 basis point move can trigger a plethora of CDS contracts, or wipe out multi-billion dollar entities with one hefty margin call.

    Only time will tell what Canadian banks and the CMHC have been up to, and if this last quote tells us anything, we are no different from that of any insolvent US or European bank.

    “Under international banking rules, if you are, as we are, a 100% government entity, you don’t have to put aside any capital.”—Karen Kinsley CMHC

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