Securely Managing Your Online Finances

In today’s growing online world, it’s essential to securely manage and protect your online finances. There are various reports and news articles about huge data breaches, phishing emails and so on.

Also, people use the internet more and more when it comes to payments and managing online finances, which means it’s more lucrative for hackers since the success ratio is higher too.

Therefore, I’ve created a list of important ways to securely manage and protect your online finances.

Let’s get started:

Securely Managing Your Online Finances - laptop and finance image

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1.   Phishing Emails

An increasingly more employed method by hackers to obtain personal data, payment information and other sensitive information is through phishing emails. Phishing emails are fake emails, the hacker often pretends to be your bank, credit card company or other institution that often emails invoices (e.g. Google Play Store or Apple Store).

Most people trust these institutions and are more likely to open the email. While opening the email isn’t harmful but clicking on a URL in the email or opening the attachment is harmful. The attachment usually contains some kind of malicious file to infect your system. Think about a virus, keylogger, spyware, ransomware, and so on. Whereas the link may redirect you to a domain that automatically starts the download of a malicious file upon visiting.

Phishing emails is a numbers game but it’s still rather effective. Once your system is infected, it’s highly likely that hackers can monitor what you’re doing on your computer and see your username and password combination.

The hackers can then use this information to access your online banking accounts or credit card statements and use it for fraudulent activities.

It’s therefore important to be able to recognize these phishing emails and avoid opening them. There are quite a few methods and tactics you can use to “test” the email in order to find out whether it’s a legit sender.

2.   HTTP vs HTTPS

Whenever you make payments or leave sensitive information on a website, always make sure the website in question is protected by the HTTPS protocol.

You can recognize a secure website by the green padlock and “s” after “http.” This means that all the traffic between you and the web server is protected by an encryption method and unreadable for hackers (even if they manage to steal the data, it’s useless).

3.   Passwords

A strong and unique password for every online account is incredibly important in order to access your online finances. It’s an essential aspect of security in case one of your accounts (be that email, social media, etc) gets hacked. The hacker won’t be able to use the very same login details to login to your credit card or bank account, if you have different combinations for each account.

It’s hard to remember a unique and strong password for every account that you own, therefore, I recommend using an app like LastPass to store your login details. You can also use LastPass’ tool to generate strong passwords.

Two-factor authentication is also a great feature to opt for as it ensures a double check, for example, with a generator on your smartphone or other application.

4.   Download the Right Apps

Most people who manage their finance online use an application, such as a mobile banking app or a dedicated app from their credit card provider.

However, most people aren’t aware that many of these apps are not super tight on security. Of course, there are security protocols, but and increasing amount of hackers attempting to steal credentials raises the issue.

Never ever download a third-party mobile banking application that is not officially backed and authorized by your own bank. Especially apps with very few downloads, ratings and reviews are usually not apps you should opt for.

5.   Avoid Public Wi-Fi

One of the least protected networks you can join are free Wi-Fi networks, for example, Free Airport Wi-Fi. These types of Wi-Fi connections, without a required password to join, are extremely easy targets for hackers.

Never do your online finances while being connected to a Wi-Fi connection without a password in airports, cafes, trains, etc. If you do find yourself relying on these public hotspots in your daily routine, using a VPN is highly recommended.

6.   Alert

For most of your cards, you can enable alert options. Generally, activity alerts are not enabled in the default settings, so make sure to check and opt in.

That means you’ll receive a text message or email every time there’s activity on your bank account or credit card. Even buying a single coffee will trigger an alert. So, you can take immediate action when you receive an alert when you didn’t buy anything.

7.   Antivirus & Anti-malware

It’s almost too obvious to tell, however, you’d be surprised how many people fall victim to hackers simply because they failed to updated their protection software to the latest version.

Antivirus and anti-malware software providers constantly update their programs to patch out gaps and loops that could be exposed by hackers. So, you’re not doing this, you’ll be more vulnerable to hackers.

Always make sure to update your protection software to the latest version, preferably opt in for automatic updates.

Bill here from PixelPrivacy.com. My blog is all about making the world of online security accessible to everyone. I pride myself in writing guides that I’m certain even my own mom could read! Be sure to head over to my blog if you’re interested in keeping your private information just that: Private!