The internet has forever changed the way we bank. Setting up transfers, paying off credit card debt, even cashing cheques can now be performed online. While this makes personal banking much easier, keeping your finances online can subject you to the possibility of cyber theft. However, if you know what cyber theft looks like, you’ll be able to safely navigate online banking sites. We thought we’d share our online banking tips to keep your money safe!
What to look out for when banking online In order to bank online, you have to designate an email account that can access your bank account. It’s that email where you’ll be faced with cyber criminals attempting to obtain your credit card information. These cyber criminals will generally operate in one of two ways: they use software to hack directly into your account, or they try to trick you into giving them your credit card information. Having a strong email password is the simplest and most effective way to ensure your email is safe from hackers trying to get directly into your account. For tips on creating a strong password, check out Microsoft’s post here. You can also invest in password management software like 1Password that will generate strong passwords designed to keep you safe from hackers (plus the designers are Canadian!). For cyber criminals who are trying to trick you into giving them your credit card information, the two scam tactics you need to be aware of are phishing and pharming.
What is phishing? Phishing is when a cyber criminal convinces you to share your credit card information under false pretences. One of the classic examples of phishing is The Nigerian Prince Scam. The scam involves an email in which the cyber criminal informs you that you are the beneficiary in the will of a wealthy Nigerian Prince. The email will then ask you to provide your credit card info as “proof” that you are the actual beneficiary and promises a speedy transfer of your “inheritance”. In reality, once you hand over your information, you’ll find that yourbank account has been emptied. The Nigerian Prince scam is one of the most famous phishing scams, but there are modern variations that are much more believable. Cyber criminals will pose as anyone when trying to convince you to hand over your credit card information. These scams can also urge you to download files sent in an email. The files the scammers are trying to get you to download are known as malware, malicious software that can track your computer’s keystrokes and obtain all your usernames, emails and passwords. Don’t download any files from an unknown sender, and make sure to check with a friend if they have sent you a file out of the blue - their computer could be infected with malware. When determining if you’re being targeted by a phishing scam, be on the lookout for spelling errors and threats in the email. Since phishing emails are spread all around the globe, the text in the email could havef been filtered through a translator program and may have spelling errors as a result. Carefully read through an email for odd spelling mistakes - you can be sure that a professional company wouldn’t send an email with spelling errors. Much like a sales pitch, cyber scammers will create a “call to action” in their phishing email by informing you that something bad will happen if you don’t give them your credit card info or download a file. In one phishing example, victims were told their Facebook accounts would be shutdown unless they provided their email and passwords. As a rule of thumb don’t give out your password or credit card information online, especially when it’s to someone you just met.
What is pharming? Pharming is when a cyber criminal creates a fake website that looks seemingly identical to a legitimate one. They might send you to their fake site from a link in an email. Typically they will create a fake bank page that tracks your keystrokes, so that when you put in your credit card information the hacker will have access to it. Pharming scams can be harder to detect than Phishing ones, because scammers will use images and logos that are identical to whatever company they’re trying to impersonate. The only thing that will appear differently on a pharming website is the URL. For banks and other reputable websites such as Amazon and eBay, their website URL’s will contain a green lock icon that signifies the website is a trusted third party. Always look for the green lock icon in your url when you’re putting in a password or credit card information. Online banking can be a safe and easy ordeal if you’re aware of the potential dangers of internet scams. Always be wary of giving out your credit card number, and you should never give your PIN or password to someone via email, phone or in person. For more resources on cyber security, check out the links below!
More resources on Cyber Security: Cyber Security - Government of Canada: http://www.getcybersafe.gc.ca/cnt/rsks/index-en.aspx How to recognize phishing emails: http://www.microsoft.com/security/online-privacy/phishing-symptoms.aspx Top Anti-virus software: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2372364,00.asp Online Fraud - Pharming: http://ca.norton.com/cybercrime-pharming