Moneywise - The Future of Banking
Internet banking might be convenient – but is it safe?
Forget speed and simplicity – security is paramount when managing your money, writes Sam Barrett
Online banking and smartphone apps enable you to check your salary’s gone into your account, transfer money or even pay a bill, whenever you like. But, while the convenience is great, it’s essential you feel secure when banking online.
Reassuringly, although more people are banking online, the amount of fraud is falling. It still accounts for a sizeable figure – £46.7 million in 2010 according to Financial Fraud Action UK – but this is 22% lower than in 2009. Bowerman says this is down to the banks’ use of more sophisticated fraud detection software but also greater awareness of security by online banking customers. Additionally, if you are a victim of fraud, the banks stress that you won’t be out of pocket.
Thankfully, the banks go out of their way to ensure your safety. Rebecca Hirst, a spokesperson for First Direct, says the bank applies a robust level of security to both its internet site and its mobile banking apps. “Customers need to answer one of their memorable questions and provide random letters from their password to access the service,” she explains. “We never ask for the full password.” Many banks also provide customers with a handheld chip and pin reader to increase safety, creating an extra layer of security. For example, NatWest and Royal Bank of Scotland customers have been using them since 2007 and HSBC sent ‘secure keys’ to online banking customers earlier this year. Mark Bowerman, spokesperson for Financial Fraud Action UK, believes consumers should feel confident when banking online or through a mobile device. “The banks’ own systems are incredibly difficult to attack,” he says.
“As online and mobile banking develops we’ll always ensure security is in place before we make new technology available to customers,” adds Hirst.
TOP FIVE TIPS TO ENSURE YOUR SAFETY 1PROTECT YOUR PASSWORD Create a password that no-one will be able to guess and never write it down. Change it every six months or so.
2BEEF UP YOUR DEFENCES Use firewalls and virus protection to keep the fraudsters at bay and, if you use a shared computer to access your account, delete cookies and internet history when you’re finished.
3CHECK YOUR ACTIVITY When you log into your account, check your last log on details. If you don’t recognise them, contact your bank.
“As fraudsters look for the weakest link, this unfortunately means it’s customers they target. But as long as you follow common sense advice to protect yourself, you should be safe.”
‘Common sense’ advice includes keeping passwords secret; ensuring your internet access is secure with firewalls and virus protection; and keeping an eye out for anything suspicious such as phishing emails.
4DON’T REPLY TO EMAILS If you receive an email or a phone call that appears to be from your bank asking for account details and your password, report it. It’s probably a phishing attempt as your bank will never ask for this information.
5STAY SAFE ON THE GO Only download mobile apps from official stores such as Apple iTunes and keep your device’s operating system up-to-date. Avoid ‘jail-breaking’ or ‘rooting’ (ways to download unofficial apps) your device, as this can remove security controls.
6 MONEYWISE | THE FUTURE OF BANKING