October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, a month dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of cybersecurity. Cybersecurity is especially important when it comes to online banking, which has become a common part of our daily lives. Even as this banking technology continues to bring us new levels of ease and convenience, there are also some simple things we can all do to help protect our online transactions.

Here are some of our top tips…

Woman on Computer in coffee shop

  1. Avoid the Click (And Be Careful on the Phone) – If you get an email with a suspicious link, don’t click! Instead, stop and head directly to our website or call us. A common tactic of cybercriminals is to send phishing emails to unsuspecting targets, hoping you will unknowingly click on a malicious link to gain access to your information. It’s also common to receive phishing phone calls where callers will ask for your personal information. Sometimes, these emails look extremely real, and the phone calls sound professional, so if you’re not sure that a message or call is authentic, don’t panic. Slow down, reach out, and ask us. We’re happy to help!
  2. Use Strong Passwords (And Don’t Share Them) – Birthdate, addresses, and your mom’s maiden name are all easily discoverable online. Avoid creating passwords using common phrases or easy-to-guess personal data. Instead, consider using a password manager to generate and store your passwords securely. Use long, complex passwords with a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols. The same goes for your account PIN numbers. Then, once you have strong passwords and PIN numbers for your accounts, avoid sharing them. You can also set up multi-factor identification as another way to help protect against password theft.
  3. Use Your Own Device (And Log Out) – If you’re going to check your balance or manage a transaction online, use your own computer or mobile device. Avoid using public computers or logging in on other people’s phones, and when you’re finished with your transactions, make sure to log out. Logging out is the step most people forget, and it’s an easy way to help protect your data and finances.
  4. Avoid Public Wi-Fi (And Secure Your Home Networks) – Public Wi-Fi might be convenient, but it also can come with reduced security settings, making it vulnerable to hackers. Instead of using the Wi-Fi network at the local coffee shop, wait until you’re on a secure, trusted network. As well, make sure to secure your networks with strong passwords and encryption. No matter where you are, avoid sending sensitive information via unencrypted email.
  5. Stay On Top of Your Accounts (And Set Up Alerts) – Review your accounts regularly. It can be easy to assume everything is secure, but hackers gain access to information occasionally, especially card account numbers. One of the best ways to ensure your account information is secure is to actively review your transactions and ensure there’s no activity you don’t recognize or haven’t authorized. You can also set up alerts to monitor for fraudulent activity.

At HomeTown Bank, we’re committed to keeping our customers and their financial data secure. With your help, following tips like the ones shared above, we can all help prevent cyber attacks and continue using these new digital tools confidently.

Curious about cyber security in banking? Questions about an email or phone call you’ve received? We’re happy to answer your questions anytime! Feel free to give us a call, or stop in your local HomeTown Bank.