Is doing online banking while using public Wi-Fi safe?

Is doing online banking while using public Wi-Fi safe?

The quick answer is NO. Wi-Fi broadcasts data in a range and therefore your information could be at risk. This isn’t a huge deal if you are just on social media, scanning Twitter. Where this becomes an issue is when you are looking at sensitive data like online banking. Best practice would to be to avoid banking sessions for when you are at home on your password protected Wi-fi or even better a hard-wired connection.

The security of your bank information goes further than that. You should always setup two-factor authentication on your financial websites. Two-factor is when you login to your account and then it asks you for a code that was texted to you or from an authenticator application like Google Authenticator. Sometimes it will be sent to you in an email to verify it’s you. That is a must have, so if you haven’t set that up yet, do so right away.

Most financial websites have these protocols in place and will require you to setup two-factor authentication. Another thing to check for is that the site is secure. You can tell this when you visit the website and, in the address bar it shows the address starts with “https”. Look for the “s” at the end and there should be a padlock icon. If it’s not secure you won’t see that, and you may also see a warning that says, “this site is not secure”.

Here are some tips for safe banking:

Keep your Computers Up to Date - Update software regularly and make sure you are on an updated operating system (Windows 10 or higher at the time of this article).

Use credit cards for shopping online – Try to avoid using Debit cards or banking information tied directly to your checking account. Credit cards usually provide you protection against fraud so you can later dispute any charges that you did not make.

Don’t automatically connect – Set your mobile devices so they must get your approval before connecting to a wireless network. That can help prevent logging into a suspicious network.

Firewall and Antivirus – Make sure your devices are connected to a firewall and that you have antivirus protection. This is just another layer of protection to keep your devices safe.

Use Two-Factor Authentication – I said it already, but if for some reason your bank hasn’t required it already go and set that up.

Monitor your Bank Accounts – This is usually an option at your bank to setup alerts when balances go below a certain level or large charges are made. Setup alerts so if something does happen you can stop it right away.

I hope these tips help you stay safe. If you take just a few steps and are informed and alert when online, you can keep yourself from being a target.