However careful you are about keeping your banking details secret and only logging in on trusted networks, the sad fact remains that doing any kind of financial transaction online opens you up to a small possibility of being hacked. In the modern world, it’s not really possible to avoid using online services such as PayPal and Amazon – instead, you need to look at ways of improving the protection that you give to any service that might store financial details.
This is where two-factor (or multi-factor) authentication comes in. Two-factor authentication means combining ‘something you know’ – your password – with ‘something you have’ or ‘something you are’. Something you have could be any physical object: a particular device that can receive a code, for instance. In the case of ATM machines and card transactions, we’ve all been using this kind of authentication for decades: ‘something you know’ is your pin number, and ‘something you have’ is your bank card. Something you are means a biometric feature such as your fingerprint scanner, and many banking apps now add an extra layer of security by scanning your fingerprint when you login.
While your banks will typically force you to use some kind of multi-factor login process, there are lots of other places where you share financial details online. In many cases, you can go into the settings yourself and turn up the security levels.
Not every online shop is able to support two factor authentication at the moment, but some of the big names are. If you’re somebody who gets a lot of their online shopping through Amazon, then you’ll need to go into your account settings and turn on what they call ‘two step verification’ (2SV). This is done using your phone as a device to receive one-time login passwords, sent by text.
If you’re not able to turn this on for your preferred shopping site, then we would recommend avoiding saving your card details. This way, people may be able to hack into your shopping accounts, but they won’t be able to spend any money if they do. Of course, this would mean you’ll need to input your card details every time, so in cases where you the option for two step, it may be the less time consuming option.
If you’re not using your debit or credit card to make payments online, then you might be doing it through PayPal. We’ve heard of people losing money because their PayPal password has been hacked. If you have your account linked to your bank as most of us do, or if you use the PayPal credit function, then this gives the hacker instant access to your fund. Simply go into settings and add two factor authentication – you can choose to receive codes texted to your phone, or to use a verification app.
Emails may not be the first thing that springs to mind when thinking of securing your accounts, but they are important. If you exchange personal emails with family or friends, then you may be giving away security details without realising it. There will also be information about your login details – not to mention the fact that a hacker with access to your inbox can use it to start resetting passwords that you use on other websites. For this reason, we recommend going into your settings and turning on extra authentication for whichever email provider you use.
Once you’ve started using two factor across your accounts, you need to keep your device extra safe – if you lose your phone then it will be a struggle to get into your accounts. However, we think that’s worth the huge security boost that comes from locking down your various financial profiles.