Over time, banking and transaction methods have significantly evolved. The entire spectrum of banking services, encompassing payments and investments, is now effortlessly accessible through user-friendly mobile applications, just a click away. However, as online banking gains popularity, the importance of strong security measures becomes increasingly crucial. The shift in transaction methods exposes vulnerabilities, necessitating a sophisticated strategy to counter the ever-present threats of cyber fraud. In recent years, there has been a significant increase in online frauds. According to the Reserve Bank of India’s report titled 'Trend and Progress of Banking,' 14,483 frauds were reported in the first half of FY 23-24, compared to 5,396 cases during the same period a year ago. These frauds, ranging from identity theft and account hacking to sophisticated phishing attacks, often target unsuspecting users, capitalising on lapses in digital security practices.

Understanding the intricacies of online banking security and implementing essential tips and protective measures can help safeguard your accounts, ensuring a secure banking journey. Strong passwords act as the first line of defence against unauthorised access, making it significantly more challenging for fraudsters to breach your financial accounts. Start by maintaining unique passwords for each online account. Strengthen this defence mechanism further by creating complex passwords – a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols for each banking account. Avoid easily guessable combinations and create passwords unrelated to your personal information.

Select security questions that have personal significance to you but are not widely known or available on your public profiles. Updating passwords regularly also enhances the strength of your digital credentials, adding an essential layer of defence against potential breaches. Add a secondary form of verification, such as a unique code sent to your mobile device. Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) is a great tool that reduces the risk of unauthorised access even if your password is compromised. Store all documents related to your online banking, such as login details or recovery codes, in a secure location.

Regularly review and update privacy settings on your online banking profile to control the information shared. Be cautious about granting permissions to third-party applications that request access to your online banking data. Avoid sharing OTPs, passwords, or card details, and refrain from clicking on suspicious links sent through emails or messages. Phishing attacks, often disguised as legitimate communications from banks or financial institutions, aim to deceive you into revealing sensitive information. Learning to identify these fraudulent attempts is crucial for your security and is essential in preventing financial loss and data breaches. Banks never request such sensitive information through phone calls or emails. Being vigilant and verifying the authenticity of the communication helps you steer clear of potential scams and protect your sensitive information. Regularly reviewing your bank statements and account activity can help you swiftly identify any unusual transactions and report unauthorised access or fraudulent activities. Avoid public computers for sensitive transactions. Conducting banking transactions over encrypted connections ensures the confidentiality of your data. Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), in particular, provide an additional layer of protection by masking your IP address, making it harder for cybercriminals to track your online activities.

Only download and use official banking applications from trusted sources to avoid malicious software. Another commonly overlooked aspect is the upkeep of current banking applications and security software. Regularly updating your banking apps and security software is a simple yet effective way to shield yourself from the latest cybersecurity threats. Financial institutions regularly update their applications, incorporating essential security patches to guard against vulnerabilities exploited by cybercriminals. Along with regular updates, decluttering your digital footprint minimises the risk of unauthorised access and protects sensitive information from falling into the wrong hands. Clearing cache, secure deletion of digital files, and responsible data disposal contribute to your overall cybersecurity hygiene. Every year, thousands of individuals fall victim to fraud and cyber threats, including phishing attempts, social engineering attacks, and OTP frauds. A nuanced understanding of these tactics is essential to strengthen your defences against online threats. Stay abreast of the latest threats, preventive measures, and conduct a thorough security assessment on your online banking accounts at least twice a year to spot potential issues. Integrating simple practices into your routine enables you to navigate digital banking more confidently and in a secure manner. 

This article is authored by Sajish Pillai, Managing Director and Head—Assets and Strategic Alliances, Consumer Banking Group, DBS Bank India. 

As featured in ET BFSI