One of the issues I'm passionate about, as an online-security analyst, is that of banking safely online; so I recommend the following simple tips to help ensure your security in cyberspace.
- Wired ethernet link. This offers more security than does a powerline or Wi-Fi network. In fact, the powerline carries your data via electrical wires--not secure at all. Data from wires can leak into adjacent homes, and Wi-Fi signals are out in the open, literally. An ethernet attack, however, may require a home break-in by the crook, and then he has to set up his device.
- Nevertheless, powerline and Wi-Fi do come with encryption capabilities; encryption scrambles data for safer online banking. Any attacker would need your password to infiltrate. But remember this: Wi-Fi's WEP, which is obsolete, can be hacked into, even though it's still offered as an option for router setup.
- Do not leave a router on its default password. Otherwise, crooks can get in and redirect your traffic to who knows where.
- Never trust third-party Wi-Fi hotspots.
- Make sure that the financial site you visit has a padlock icon and "https" before the URL address; this means it's secure and legitimate. "Http" (no "s") is not secure.
- Keep up to date on security updates for your browser and operating system. This will protect against a crook who uses a keylogger to track your keystrokes. With a keylogger, a hacker can get your keystroke pattern and will figure out your passwords.
- Never click on links in e-mails. Even if it's supposedly from your bank. Never.
- To really beef up online banking security, use a separate computer just for online banking.
- Enable your financial institution's two-step verification. This is typing in a password that's one-time, that gets texted to you. Unfortunately, many banks don't have this tactic. But if you're concerned with banking safely on the Internet, see if your institution does. If you can't find this information on their web site, call them.
- One more simple tip about safe online banking: Hotspot Shield VPN service guards your entire online experience when you're using unprotected networks, such as at coffee houses, hotels, airports, etc., be they wired or wireless.
Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to Hotspot Shield VPN. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen See him discussing internet and wireless security on Good Morning America. Disclosures.