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Five everyday habits putting our money at risk

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Written by: Jon Holden
23/07/2019
Keeping our bank accounts safe from criminals and hackers is often at the forefront of our minds but everyday we compromise the security of our finances without realising.

Here, Atom Bank’s head of information security, Jon Holden, reveals how we put our money in danger on a daily basis…

Using public networks

They might be convenient, but accessing your finances on a public WiFi network, such as in a cafe or a hotel, can be very risky.

The clue is in the name, they’re public. This means there are no guarantees that your connection is encrypted, putting you at risk.

Some fraudsters even create their own public networks using the name of well-known shops or banks, giving them access to anything travelling through the network that is unencrypted.

The majority of online banking sites and apps are heavily encrypted and will automatically log you out after a short while, but I would always advise avoiding public networks where possible. Always use a trusted network or your cellular data as these are safer, and always use your mobile app where possible.

Saving cards to online browsers

There are loads of browsers available these days, but some are more secure than others. The majority regularly update to ensure they’re not at risk of hacking or malware from fraudsters, but if yours doesn’t update, then it can leave you vulnerable to an attack.

For this reason I would never advise anyone to save their card details onto their internet browser. Although it may be convenient, it puts you at a significantly higher risk of fraud. Although verification is still required to use these details for transactions, if your device is hacked or has a virus then you could end up losing money.

Falling for phishing emails and messages

I always advise customers to think about how they communicate with their financial provider; if anything seems out of the blue or unusual, don’t chance it.

The beauty of using your financial app is that all communication should be in-app, and therefore, if you receive anything by the way of phishing emails and SMS messages, it should be an obvious red flag.

Using obvious passwords

It might seem obvious, but many people still use simple and straightforward passwords that are easily guessed by fraudsters. Hackers usually work through lists of common passwords searching for the right combination, and once they’ve guessed your log-in details for one account, they could use your credentials to access multiple websites.

If it’s possible, use a banking app that uses biometrics to log in. This sophisticated method is the most secure way of accessing your finances, but if you do use passwords, make sure they don’t include names or key dates, like your birthday, as this could put you at risk.

Make it hard to guess by using upper and lower case letters, special characters and numbers, but not so hard that you won’t remember and have to write it down.

Keeping old statements

Although this sounds like an old fashioned hacking tactic, fraudsters can still use old paper documents and bank statements for impersonation. The majority prefer to target businesses as it’s more lucrative, but not destroying your statements is still an unnecessary risk.

 

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