The internet and the near-ubiquity of smartphones and tablets has meant that many of the details of our day-to-day lives have migrated online. Using money, whether it’s internet banking, subscription payments, purchases, or investments, is simpler and easier than ever. But with that simplicity comes risk – scammers and hackers are always developing new ways to steal money and data, and their methods grow in unison with the development of new technology.
There are plenty of resources, apps and software to help keep your money safe, but it is important to remember that YOU are the first line of defense. Many instances of fraud originate from human error. Safe practices are essential to the security of your cash and your peace of mind, so read on for some essential tips.
You’d be surprised at how many people get hacked through the first line of their defenses. Your bank and other online financial services have incredible layers of security, but all this becomes moot if you have an easy to hack password, or if you have made it common knowledge for some reason. Having strong, unique passwords is essential – different ones for each log-in. Secure password managers such as LastPass or Dashlane are available which create strong passwords for every web application – if one password is hacked, the others remain secure.
Public or shared WiFi
We all use wifi in cafes, train stations, airports or any other public place you can think of. But unsecured wifi can pose a major security risk, especially if you’re carrying out financial transactions. As mobile devices have become the primary way we use the internet, hackers and scammers have got smart, and are able to access sensitive data via Man-in-the-middle attacks. This can allow third parties to see passwords and other information you input, which can be copied and exploited. It’s best to avoid using public wifi as much as possible, but if you have to then use a virtual private network (VPN) on your device. This creates a secure, encrypted tunnel between your mobile and a secure server. VPNs are easy to use, and reputable apps can be easily downloaded.
Websites and apps
Shopping online, entertainment services, meal deliveries – the list of things we pay for online is growing all the time. It’s worth auditing the websites and applications into which you put your details – check them for security and follow good, safe practices. Whenever you’re making a payment on a website, make sure the URL begins with https – the ‘s’ stands for secure. Check for SSL certificates – this means that the site has created an encrypted environment for transactions to occur. When using new entertainment sites such as video streaming or gambling, make sure you do some research before entering any of your details. Your best bet is to use websites offering listings of reputable online casino sites in Zimbabwe, letting you play and enjoy with peace of mind.
It’s not just inexperienced web users who fall for phishing and other types of scams. Today’s online criminals are increasingly sophisticated, and not a week goes by without hearing about a victim getting stung. Make sure you never reply to an email with your bank details or other financial information. Banks and payment services such as Paypal will never send anything other than promotional and informative content to your email – they will never ask for you to enter or reset your password. If you need to access your bank or another service then open a browser and do it via their homepage. People often fall for phone scams as well, and it is now easy for scammers to appear to be calling from an official phone number. Never give out your personal details over the phone unless you have contacted the bank via their own, official number.
Apps and software
Make sure you download reputable anti-virus/malware/spyware software for your computer – this needs to be regularly updated as criminals develop their software almost as fast. As soon as an update is available process it. Unsurprisingly, hackers are now targeting mobile devices more than ever before. Luckily, many of the major protective software developers are now integrating their products to be compatible with smartphones and tablets – Norton, McAfee, Bitdefender and Avira among them – a great one-stop-shop security solution.
It’s a good idea to spend a little time each day checking through all the online finance services you use – check PayPal, bank statements and even pending payments to see if there is any suspicious activity. This need only take a few moments, so make it part of your routine. Remember – most fraudulent activity can be resolved and funds can often be recouped, but the sooner you catch some fishy goings-on, the better and easier the process will be.
Using money online is easier and safer than ever. With good awareness and watertight practices – coupled with the latest security tech – you’ll have little to worry about when it comes to keeping your money safe and where it belongs.