Cyber Security Lesson 2: Bank Securely When Online

In today’s world, banking online is a necessity. Unfortunately, just like everything done online, there are risks to it. The only way to be 100% safe is to completely stop using online banking, but this is 0% plausible. Instead, you should make yourself aware of the risks and threats to your security. Knowledge is power, and knowing how hackers attack online banking users will help to reduce your risk of becoming another victim.


There are four types of attacks that specifically target online banking:

  1. Phishing attacks: A phishing attack is when a hacker sends a fake e-mail pretending to represent your bank or financial institution. The e-mail provides a link to a counterfeit website which requests information such as your account number and password. Sometimes the link goes to the real website but creates a counterfeit “pop-up”. When you enter your sensitive data into this website or “pop-up”, the hacker receives the information and is able to access all of your actual bank or financial information.
  2. Vishing attacks: A vishing attack is similar to phishing. It is when a person calls you and pretends to be a bank or financial institution representative seeking to verify your account information. They then use this information to hack into your account and finances.
  3. Malware: Malware, or malicious software, can be downloaded to your computer via various methods. Most often malware gets downloaded when you download unverified programs, music, and movies to your computer. The malware then works silently to steal your financial information. It can capture the keystrokes for your login information, generate counterfeit web pages, and hijack your browser and transfer funds without your knowledge.
  4. Pharming: Pharming attacks install malware on your computer without any conscious action on your part. For example, opening an infected e-mail or e-mail attachment could be the trigger for the malware to install. Then, just like the other types of attacks, it creates a counterfeit website in which you enter all your information.

Now that you understand the types of attacks that target online bankers, we have a few tips on how to keep yourself safe:

  • Review your bank’s information about its online privacy policies and practices. This will let you know their methods for authenticating user information and if any additional security information is required before authorizing a payment to a business or individual that has never received a payment before.
  • Choose an online personal identification number (PIN) that is unique and difficult to guess. Change it regularly.
  • Install anti-virus, firewall, and anti-spyware programs on your computer and keep them up to date.
  • Use a credit card to pay for online goods and services. Credit cards normally have stronger protection against personal liability claims.
  • Regularly check you online account balance for unauthorized activity. Timing is everything when catching unauthorized activity. If you catch it early enough, your personal liability won’t be as large.
  • Avoid situations where personal information can be intercepted, retrieved, or view by unauthorized individuals. This includes conducting online banking business in public places, on public Wi-Fi, or on a public computer.
  • If you receive an e-mail about a financial account, verify its authenticity by contacting your bank or financial institution. Do not click on any links. If the e-mail is fraudulent, forward it to the Federal Trade Commission at and then delete the e-mail.
  • If you have disclosed financial information to a fraudulent person, file reports with the proper organizations:
    • your bank
    • the local police
    • the Federal Trade Commission
    • the Internet Crime Complain Center
    • the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion

1 thought on “Cyber Security Lesson 2: Bank Securely When Online

  1. Pingback: Cyber Security Lesson 4: Recognizing E-mail Scams | Hauk Kruse & Associates

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