Six Tips for Keeping Your Online Banking Information Safe

Written by 
Thomas Perrotta
Thomas Perrotta is the managing editor of Savvy. Throughout his time at the company, Thomas has specialised in personal finance, namely car, personal and small loans, although he has also written on topics ranging from mortgages to business loans to banking and more. Thomas graduated from the University of Adelaide with a Bachelor of Media, majoring in journalism, and has previously had his work published in The Advertiser.
Our authors
, updated on February 28th, 2024       

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As technology advances, online banking offers convenience and accessibility like never before. However, with this convenience comes the responsibility of safeguarding your financial information from potential threats.

Protecting your online banking accounts from fraud, identity theft and cyberattacks is paramount. In 2022, Australians lost a total of $3.1 billion from a range of scams, according to the 2022 Targeting Scams report from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

Whether you're new to online banking or looking to strengthen your existing security measures, learn key tips for keeping your details on lockdown right here with Savvy.

Select strong and complex passwords and PINs

Choosing complex passwords and PINs is essential for keeping your online banking safe and secure. Strong passwords make it harder for those looking to access your information to guess or crack them through automated methods.

They should include a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Additionally, avoid using easily guessable information such as your name or those of your children, family birthdays or street names. Wherever possible, you should also look to steer clear of full words or phrases, instead using jumbles of letters and numbers.

Furthermore, regularly updating your passwords and PINs adds an extra layer of security. Changing them periodically reduces the risk of them being compromised over time.

Utilise multi-factor authentication

Utilising multi-factor authentication (MFA), also known as two-factor authentication (2FA) is a crucial step in enhancing the security of your online banking accounts. MFA adds an extra layer of protection by requiring not only a password but also a second form of authentication to access your accounts.

This second factor could be something like a code sent to your mobile or fingerprint or facial recognition. By requiring multiple forms of verification, MFA significantly reduces the risk of unauthorised access, even if your password is compromised.

Many online banking platforms and financial institutions offer MFA as an optional security feature. It's strongly recommended to enable this feature wherever possible to protect your accounts against unauthorised access and fraudulent activity.

Compare online banking safety features

When it comes to online banking, not all platforms offer the same security features. Therefore, it's crucial to compare the safety features provided by different online banking platforms before choosing one. Look for the following features:

  • Encryption: this is a standard feature among banks and credit unions. Encryption scrambles your data to help prevent unauthorised access.
  • Daily withdrawal limit: another standard feature, banks will allow you to set a limit for the maximum amount of money that can be transferred from your account in a single day.
  • Activity reports or notifications: these inform you of account access details, including times and transaction information or alert you if access is attempted from an unknown device.
  • Complimentary security software: some institutions may offer free security or anti-virus software for a certain period as a sign-up offer.
  • Multi-factor authentication: as mentioned, MFA can be a highly effective way of boosting the security of your account
  • Dual authorisation for businesses: if you’re running a business, you may be able to arrange for transactions to be approved by multiple individuals.

Avoid public access Wi-Fi and computers

Avoiding accessing your online banking accounts while on public Wi-Fi or computers is essential for maintaining the security of your online banking transactions. Public Wi-Fi networks, such as those in cafes, airports, or libraries, are often unsecured, making them vulnerable to interception.

Similarly, using public computers, such as those in shared workspaces or libraries, can also pose security risks as they may be infected with malware or keyloggers. According to the eSafety Commissioner website, you should always log out of your accounts if you do access banking on public access channels.

It's essential to conduct online banking transactions only on secure and trusted networks, such as your home internet or a secure mobile data connection.

Install robust security software on your devices

Ensuring the devices you use for online banking have security software installed is crucial for protecting your online banking information from cyber threats. This includes antivirus and firewall software designed to detect and prevent malicious activities on your computer or mobile device.

This type of software provides real-time protection by scanning files and monitoring network activity to identify and block potential security risks. By installing and regularly updating security software on your devices, you can fortify your defences and help ensure the safety of your online banking transactions.

You may also wish to consider using additional security measures such as virtual private networks (VPNs) when accessing your online banking accounts, especially when using public Wi-Fi networks. A VPN encrypts your internet connection, preventing hackers from intercepting your data while it's in transit.

Keep an eye out for scams

It’s important to stay vigilant and be aware of potential scams. Scammers use a wide range of tactics, such as phishing emails (fake emails made to look like they’re from your bank) and fake websites, to trick individuals into revealing their login credentials or personal information.

These scams can be sophisticated and convincing, making it crucial to be cautious and sceptical of any unsolicited messages or requests for sensitive information. Be wary of emails or messages claiming to be from your bank or financial institution, especially if they ask you to provide login credentials, account numbers, or other personal details.

Educate yourself about common types of scams targeting online banking users and learn how to recognise the warning signs. Look out for red flags such as spelling or grammatical errors in emails, unexpected requests for personal information, and urgent or threatening language designed to pressure you into taking immediate action.

If you receive a suspicious message or encounter any unusual activity on your online banking accounts, report it to your bank or financial institution immediately. According to the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC), you should also report scams to ReportCyber and the National Anti-Scam Centre.

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