Online banking has exploded in popularity, mainly down to the fact that it makes managing our finances so easy. Every high street bank now has online facilities for checking balances, setting up direct debits and printing statements from their website for instance. And most also have a smartphone app so you can check that information on the move.

But this increased convenience also raises the risk of becoming a victim of fraud. Cybercriminals have designed malware specifically to infect your computer and steal banking logon details for instance.

So how do you stay safe when banking online?

Choose a very secure password

When first setting up internet banking, your bank may send you a new password in the post. As soon as you receive it, you should change it for a new, secure alternative.

Never, ever:

  • Write the new password down.
  • Store the password in your browser.
  • Give the password to anyone – especially someone “from your bank” on the phone.

You can follow these instructions for creating a new, secure, easy to remember password.

2. Enable biometric authentication

High-end smartphones like the Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy use fingerprint scanners to prevent unauthorised access to apps. If your phone has this technology, and your bank’s app supports it, you should enable it.

Biometric authentication is almost impossible to hack, so cybercriminals will not be able to gain access to the app very easily – if at all. Your banking details will also be protected if your phone is lost or stolen.

3. Do not bank using unknown wireless networks

Free WiFi networks are great for surfing the web or possibly sharing a Facebook update, but you should never, ever use them for sensitive activities like banking. If you don’t know who is providing the network, you cannot be sure that cybercriminals won’t intercept your password using a man-in-the-middle attack.

If you absolutely must access your bank details on the move, switch WiFi off and use your cellular mobile connection which is much more secure.

4. Install anti-malware software

Cybercriminals love malware because it does all the hard work for them. Once installed (usually without you realising), malware simply collects any passwords and logon details that you use on your smartphone or PC. It then sends this information back to the hackers automatically so they can use it to empty your bank account when they are ready.

Your best defence is to install anti-malware software – this will block viruses and spyware from being installed on your devices in the first place. It will also alert you to suspicious activity so you can detect and block hackers before they can steal your bank details.

To help reduce the risks associated with online banking apps, click here to download a free trial of Panda Security Gold Protection for your PC and smartphone.