How to Protect Vital Data During Online Transactions

Online security is vital for every transaction. It is important to protect some personal and vital data and give users the assurances of security and privacy of their information during transactions.

The critical vital data that should be protected include:

  1. Privacy information
  2. Credit card information
  3. Saved password

 

Tips From Fidelity Bank

Fidelity Bank Plc provides some clues to protect online shoppers. The bank suggests that shoppers should be guided by the following:

  1. Avoid clicking on links or attachments from unsolicited or suspicious emails as such links or attachments when clicked, may expose your confidential banking data to theft.
  2. Do npt supply your confidential information such as PIN, password, soft token, etc. over the phone or email. Please remain cautious and do not respond to such fraudulent requests.
  3. Do not share your One Time Passwords (OTP)
  4. Do not save your online banking password on websites as you may be prompted (eg Remember my password). This creates easy access to your bank accounts for anyone who uses your mobile device or computer after you.

 

How to Protect Your Privacy Information

Here are some ways you can boost your online privacy.

Limit the personal information you share on social media

A smart way to help protect your privacy online? Don’t overshare on social media. Providing too much information on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram could make it easier for cybercriminals to obtain identifying information, which could allow them to steal your identity or to access your financial information.

For example, could an identity thief determine your high school mascot or your mother’s maiden name from digging through your Facebook account? This information is sometimes used as security questions to change passwords on financial accounts.

Unfortunately, many people don’t take this advice. In a 2018 study, the Identity Theft Resource Center found that approximately 52 percent of respondents shared personally identifying information through social media sites.

And that’s just the start of the oversharing. The same study found that about 48 percent of respondents shared information about their children, while nearly 33 percent shared information about their location. A total of 42 percent of respondents shared information about their travel plans through social media.

To protect your online privacy, ignore the “About Me” fields in your social media profiles. You don’t have to let people know what year or where you were born — which could make you an easier target for identity theft. Explore different privacy settings, too. You might want to limit the people who can view your posts to those you’ve personally invited.

Create strong passwords, too, for your social media profiles to help prevent others from logging into them in your name. This means using a combination of at least 12 numbers, special characters, and upper- and lower-case letters. And never use personal, easy-to-guess information — such as your birthdate or pet’s name — as your password.

Browse in incognito or private mode

If you don’t want your computer to save your browsing history, temporary internet files, or cookies, do your web surfing in private mode.

Web browsers today offer their own versions of this form of privacy protection. In Chrome, it’s called Incognito Mode. Firefox calls its setting Private Browsing, and Internet Explorer uses the name InPrivate Browsing for its privacy feature. When you search with these modes turned on, others won’t be able to trace your browsing history from your computer.

But these private modes aren’t completely private. When you’re searching in incognito or private mode, your Internet Service Provider (ISP) can still see your browsing activity. If you are searching on a company computer, so can your employer. The websites you visit can also track you.

So, although incognito browsing does have certain benefits. But it’s far from the only tool available to help you maintain your privacy while online. Anonymous search engines and virtual private networks can bolster your online privacy.

Use a different search engine

If you’re like many web surfers, you rely heavily on Google as your search engine. But you don’t have to. Privacy is one reason people prefer to use anonymous search engines. This type of search engine doesn’t collect or share your search history or clicks. Anonymous search engines can also block ad trackers on the websites you visit.

Use a virtual private network

A virtual private network (VPN) gives you online privacy and anonymity by creating a private network from a public internet connection. VPNs mask your Internet Protocol (IP) address so your online actions are virtually untraceable.

Using a VPN is especially important when you’re on public Wi-Fi at a library, coffee shop, or other public location. A VPN will make it more difficult for cybercriminals to breach your online privacy and access your personal information.

You can find many free VPN solutions, but it could make more sense to pay for a service from a trusted security provider if you want the maximum amount of privacy protection while online.

Be careful where you click

One of the ways in which hackers compromise your online privacy is through phishing attempts. In phishing, scammers try to trick you into providing valuable financial or personal information. They’ll often do this by sending fake emails that appear to be from banks, credit card providers, or other financial institutions. Often, these emails will say that you must click on a link and verify your financial information to keep your account from being frozen or closed.

Don’t fall for these scams. If you click on a phishing link, you could be taken to a spoofed webpage that looks like the homepage of a bank or financial institution. But when you enter in your account information, you’ll be sending it to the scammers behind the phishing attempt, not any bank, credit union, or credit card company. Before clicking on suspicious links, hover your cursor over the link to view the destination URL. If it doesn’t match the financial website you use, don’t click.

Also, remember that banks or other financial institutions will never ask you to provide account or financial information through an email. If you receive such an email and you are wary, log in directly to your financial provider’s online account portal. You can then check to see if there are problems with your account. Or call the financial provider yourself to ask if there are any problems with your account — using the customer-service number from one of your statements or the provider’s website, not the one included in the suspect email you received.

Secure your mobile devices, too

Many of us spend more time surfing the web, answering emails, and watching videos on our smartphones than we do on our laptops. It’s important, then, to put as much effort into protecting our online privacy on our phones and tablets as on our computers.

To start, make sure to use a passcode to lock your phone. It might seem like a hassle to enter a code every time you want to access your phone’s home screen. But this passcode could offer an extra layer of protection if your phone is lost or stolen. Make sure your passcode is complex. Don’t use your birthdate, your house number, or any other code that thieves might be able to guess.

Use caution when downloading apps. These games and productivity tools could come embedded with dangerous viruses. Only buy games from legitimate sources.

Use the same caution, too, when searching the web or reading emails on your mobile devices as you do when using your laptop or desktop computer.

Don’t ignore software updates, either. These updates often include important protections against the latest viruses. If you continue to ignore them, you could be leaving your smartphone’s operating system and programs vulnerable to attack.

Use quality antivirus software

Finally, always install antivirus software on all your devices. This software can keep hackers from remotely taking over your computer, accessing your personal and financial information, and tracking your location.

And once you install this software, don’t forget about it. Manufacturers frequently update their virus protection software as a defense against the latest malware, spyware, and other viruses. Install updates as soon as they become available.

 

How to Protect Your Credit Card When Online

It’s not just about defense, being proactive about your account’s security can reduce the potential for problems before they happen. Safeguarding your credit cards often comes down to common sense. These credit card safety tips offer simple ways you can work to help keep your accounts secure.


1 Practice credit card protection from day one

Sign the back of a new card right away. This protects you if the card falls into someone else’s hands. Turn on suspicious activity alerts, and spend a few minutes working on your password and PIN for the account.

When choosing passwords for your credit card accounts, remember to create a strong one that’s unique to each account—don’t use the same password for your bank account and retail sites—and take advantage of multifactor authentication when it’s offered.

If your account also requires a PIN, do not choose a number that you use for other purposes or that is personal to you, such as your birthday or digits from your Social Security number.


2 Keep your account number private

Don’t let anyone see your card when you’re out in public. Be selective when giving your account number over the phone; only offer it when you initiate the call and you’re talking to a bank or merchant you trust. Be suspicious of messages you receive over email, text, phone or social media, asking you to give personal information or click a suspicious link.

Consider paperless statements and making payments online to remove your sensitive information from the postal system. It’s also a good idea to shred documents with sensitive personal information before you trash them.


3 Keep your information current

Notify your bank if you move. That way your statements and other information will follow you to your new address and won’t end up in anyone else’s hands.

Sign up for alerts with your financial institutions and check to make sure you’ve provided your current phone number and email so they can reach you quickly in the event of fraud or suspicious activity. Make sure you also understand how your financial institution will send alerts. You may be able to choose whether you want to be contacted by text, email or phone call.


4 Be careful with your receipts

If there is extra space on your receipt, draw a line through it so no one can write in any additional numbers. It’s also a good idea to check your receipts against your account to spot potentially fraudulent transactions fast. Finally, don’t just throw out any duplicates or old receipts. Shred the ones you don’t need and securely file the rest.


5 Secure your devices and networks

If you allow your browser to store your credit card number, you could be vulnerable. To prevent this, consider turning off the Autofill function in each browser that you use.

In addition, think about using a digital wallet, a payment system housed on your smartphone that makes it possible to conduct electronic transactions using your credit cards. Because digital wallets use encryption, tokenization and authentication, they have the potential to be safer than carrying a credit card. If you use a digital wallet, make your smartphone hard to unlock by requiring a passcode and fingerprint, where possible, and download an app to help you find your phone in case you lose it.


6 Protect yourself online

You’re probably already practicing basic online and mobile safety, but consider taking these credit card-specific measures as well:

  • Know your merchant. When shopping online, look for sites with “https” in their web addresses (the “s” stands for “secured”) and the green lock icon; make sure the URL includes the correct company’s name, rather than a close-but-not-correct version; and, even on a secured site, share your information only if you know how it will be used.
  • Type for each transaction. Never allow your credit card number to be stored on an online shopping site.
  • Add a layer. Consider using an online payment system or mobile payment service like PayPal, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay or Android Pay to keep your credit card number out of the hands of merchants, so that if a merchant is hacked, it can’t leak your account number.
  • Watch out for public Wi-Fi. Don’t shop or conduct financial transactions, including checking your accounts, using public Wi-Fi. Because it’s a public network, your information can easily be viewed by anyone.

7 Check your account often

Reviewing your recent account activity is fundamental to credit card safety—and it’s easy to do. You can do it using the bank’s app, online or over the phone. Most card issuers also let you set up email or text alerts to inform you and your issuer about unusual activity. If you’ve been a victim of fraud or identity theft in the past, consider signing up with a credit-monitoring service. Learn more about Bank of America’s fraud protection and monitoring services.


8 Report lost cards and suspected fraud right away

If you lose your credit card or suspect fraudulent activity, contact your bank or credit card issuer right away. They can block your card and account number so no one else can use them and provide you with a new card and account number.

According to U.S. law, once you notify your issuer that your card was lost or stolen, the most you’ll have to pay is $50—and many issuers waive that as long as you notify them promptly. Remember: Speed is critical. Learn more about Bank of America’s fraud protection and monitoring services.

 

How to Create Strong Passwords

Follow one of these handy tips, and you’ll be doubling down on protecting your digital world with strong passwords.

The revised passphrase method

This is the multiple word phrase method with a twist — choose bizarre and uncommon words. Use proper nouns, the names of local businesses, historical figures, any words you know in another language, etc. A hacker might guess Quagmire, but he or she would find it ridiculously challenging to try to guess a good password example like this:

QuagmireHancockMerciDeNada

While the words should be uncommon, try to compose a phrase that gives you a mental image. This will help you remember.

To crank it up another notch in complexity, you can add random characters in the middle of your words or between the words. Just avoid underscores between words and any common leetspeak* substitutions. (*leetspeak: an informal language or code used on the Internet, in which standard letters are often replaced by numerals or special characters.) It can be helpful to add a number to the password to make it a bit more difficult.

The sentence method

This method is also described as the "Bruce Schneier Method." The idea is to think of a random sentence and transform it into a password using a rule. For example, taking the first two letters of every word in “The Old Duke is my favorite pub in South London” would give you:

ThOlDuismyfapuinSoLo

To anyone else, it’s gobbledygook, but to you it makes perfect sense. Make sure the sentence you choose is as personal and unguessable as possible.

 

Recommended ways to improve your password portfolio

All of the above methods help to strengthen your passwords but aren’t very workable, given that the average person uses dozens of them. Let’s review a few ways we recommend: use new complex passwords and a password manager, install an authenticator app on your smartphone, and purchase new hardware. Each of these can help with better and more secure authentications. 

Use a password manager and a random password generator 

A password manager keeps track of all of your passwords and does all the remembering for you, except for one thing — the master password which grants you access to your password manager. We encourage you to use every tip and trick listed above.The programs also come with generators so you can create super-complicated, extra-long passwords that are infinitely more difficult to crack than any passwords a human might come up with.

 

Conclusions

In this post, you have learnt how to protect your vital data in online transactions and during your online banking transactions. The key takeaways are that you should have a strong antivirus on your system, you should not open untrusted emails and attachments, you should be careful about the amount of information you provide online and on social media and you should always use safe passwords. We do hope the details would have helped you play safe and enhance the safety of internet users.

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