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Apr 2016

Is online banking safe?

A question I am asked almost every week. And rightly so. But yes, online banking is safe with the proper precautions. The following are tips for how to safely bank on-line.

Go to your bank’s website by typing in their URL – NEVER CLICK ON A LINK IN AN EMAIL
Hackers can access a bank account by tricking a user into thinking they're logging into their account when actually they are not. This technique (phishing) is often carried out via an email informing you that you need to change your online information, verify a purchase, or something else that would make you log into your bank account via a link in the e-mail. In reality, the link takes you to a fake page that will log your account information.

Make sure the page is secure when entering data
A web page that encrypts data displays a small lock either next to the address bar (top left of the screen) or in the bottom corner of the window. In addition, the URL will start with https:// instead of http://. When you go to your bank login page, check that you see this lock before entering your username and password. If there is no lock, DO NOT log into the page.

Never send usernames, passwords, etc. through e-mail
No bank will ever ask you to send personal information via email. E-mail is unencrypted and could be read if intercepted by a third-party.

Be cautious where you log into your bank
It is advisable to only log into your online bank page while at home.
Your workplace may employ methods of monitoring you while online. Someone with access to these logs would be able to see all keystrokes, including usernames and passwords.
When on an open wireless network it's important to realise that all information being sent to and from your computer to the wireless router can be intercepted and read by someone nearby. We would
NEVER recommend on-line banking over an open wireless network (ie at a hotel or in a restaurant).
Be aware when logging into a computer you're not familiar with – it could intentionally or unintentionally log usernames and passwords.

Use a strong password
Here I go again!! But I cannot emphasise enough how easy passwords are to crack. PLEASE do not make it easy to guess such as your child’s/pet's name. Your banking password should have numbers, special characters and upper and lower case letters. Most banks now also provide you with a card reader or an app for a 2-stage authentication log-in .

Make sure your computer is protected
Finally, it's always a good idea to keep your personal computer protected with an anti-virus. When an attacker attacks or infects a computer they could install a keylogger - a software program or hardware device used to monitor and log each of the keys a user types into a computer keyboard.

Jargon Buster Part 2

Several months ago we published an IT jargon buster, with a promise of more to come. So here it is!

HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) is the secure version of HTTP, the protocol (process) over which data is sent between your browser and the website that you are connected to. The 'S' at the end of HTTPS stands for 'Secure'. It means all communications between your browser and the website are encrypted.

Operating System (OS) is the software that communicates with the computer’s hardware thus allowing applications to be run on it. It manages resources such as memory as well as access to devices including hard drives and keyboards. Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X are operating systems.

Streaming Media refers to media content, audio or video, which is received by and presented to the user at the same time that the provider is delivering it. In other words, it has not been downloaded beforehand. Netflix, Amazon and the BBC are all providers of media streaming.

Toolbar is a user interface feature consisting of a strip of icons, buttons or similar controls. Usually found at the top or the sides of an interface window, they offer a quick way to access frequently used controls without having to go through a full menu system.

USB (Universal Serial Bus) is a type of cable connection used to connect an external device, such as a printer, scanner, mouse, keyboard to your tablet or computer.

IP Address (Internet Protocol Address) is a number assigned to every device that connects to a network, whether it’s a home network or the internet. Every single device must have an IP address otherwise they will not be able to communicate to anything on a network.

Server is a high-end computer that sends out information to other computers, either through the internet or a network. Because they are commonly used to deliver services that are required constantly, most servers are never turned off. Consequently, when servers fail, they cause the network users or company many problems.

Firewall is a program or service designed to prevent unauthorised access to a computer or network over the internet.

Download means to transfer a file from the internet to your computer. For example, each time you visit a web page on the internet, you download the information on the page, including any pictures, to your computer. The term download is often associated with pictures, songs, videos and programs.