Tuesday, February 27, 2024

How to Safeguard Online Banking with a VPN

Initially, the banking industry used paper currency but has now moved to the internet due to technological advancements. These days, you can access your bank online and do transactions like paying bills, cashing a check, etc. While this brings convenience, it has security issues you should know.

Usually, banks employ sufficient measures to secure their websites and apps. That is why you can easily become a victim of a phishing scam than your banking account getting hacked. Nonetheless, a virtual private network (VPN) will add an extra security layer to protect your online banking. Also, it will help you access your banking account if you have traveled abroad.

Is online banking secure?

Most banks protect their websites with hypertext transfer protocol secure (HTTPS). It uses TLS encryption to prevent third parties like your ISP from interfering with your connection. However, they can still see the website you visit. The padlock icon in your browser’s URL bar shows that your banking website is secured with HTTPS.

Is a VPN necessary for online banking?

VPNs are an imperative tool today. Regarding finance, they are recommended even when you’re using cryptocurrency for online payments, let alone the banking.

A VPN can help protect your internet connection from hackers and ensure that your online activity is private and secure. Additionally, a VPN can also help you access geographically restricted content and websites.

However, it is important to note that using a VPN does not guarantee complete security, so it is still important to be cautious and take other security measures when making online transactions, especially when using cryptocurrency.

So, coming back to our key point, a VPN for bank offers extra protection to your online banking beyond HTTPS. Below are some of the ways a VPN will come in handy.

Prevent DNS poisoning

When visiting a website, you have to type its URL in your browser like https://www.amazon.com/. However, your computer won’t see the URL but the website’s IP address, such as 184.146.149.159.

The internet has a directory known as a domain name system (DNS) that links URLs with IP addresses. Your ISP or network administrator has special DNS servers that handle your DNS requests.

DNS poisoning or spoofing is when a hacker hijacks your DNS request and redirects it to a fake web server instead of your intended destination. As a result, they can access your information, including your login credentials.

Usually, DNS poisoning occurs on networks that lack TLS encryption. Unfortunately, most public Wi-Fi hotspots have poor security, which is why they are easier targets for DNS poisoning.

Therefore, it is good to use a reliable VPN whenever you are on a public Wi-Fi hotspot. It will alter your IP address and encrypt your web traffic, including DNS requests.

Hide your banking website

When using public Wi-Fi, HTTPS will protect your connection from being interfered with but will not prevent third parties from seeing the website you are visiting. In addition, malicious actors will use this information to device lethal phishing scams.

But, a VPN will protect your traffic and route your connection through encrypted servers. So, hackers on the public Wi-Fi will only see the IP address of the VPN server and not yours or the banking website you visit.

Access your banking website or app when abroad

You may be denied access when you try to access your banking website or app while traveling. This is because most banks don’t allow login attempts of IP addresses from other countries.

Thankfully, a VPN will help you to bypass the geo-restrictions and access your banking website or app from anywhere worldwide. You only need to connect to a server in your home country to trick your bank into thinking you are within the country.

Note: There are many VPN providers on the market with enticing offers. However, not all of them are reliable. A VPN will replace your ISP and handle your internet connection, which means it can see the websites you visit. Therefore, you should choose a trustworthy provider that observes a strict no-logs policy.

Other ways to protect your online banking

A VPN will help you to do online banking securely. However, there are specific measures you can take to add more protection to your online banking.

Strong passwords

A password helps to prevent unauthorized access to your online accounts. So, you should use a solid and unique password to make it difficult for hackers to access your bank account. A strong password should include letters, special symbols, and numbers. Also, you can use a paraphrase with four or five words, which is more difficult to crack.

Password manager

Usually, you have to memorize your passwords, which can be challenging, especially if you have several online accounts. However, a password manager will help protect your passwords and generate more complex ones. Fortunately, many password managers come with an autofill feature, making it more convenient to access your online accounts.

Two/Multi-factor authentication

Two/Multi-factor authentication (2FA/MFA) brings an extra protection layer to your banking accounts in the form of a one-time passcode, fingerprint, or facial recognition. So, if a hacker manages to get your login credentials, they cannot access your banking account without the second verification.

Type in the website’s URL

This is a subtle but effective trick. Hackers are getting sophisticated and even hiding malicious URLs in hyperlinks, making it difficult to know if you are accessing a fake website. Remember that a VPN or TLS encryption cannot protect you if you open a phishing site. Typing your bank’s website manually is the best way to avoid falling into this risk.

Can I use a free VPN for online banking?

No, we would not recommend it for various reasons. First, most free VPNs don’t have the resources to employ sufficient security measures. As a result, hackers can intercept your connections when doing online banking.

Furthermore, some free VPN providers will collect your data and sell it to third parties, including your banking information. Also, most will restrict your speed, bandwidth, and server access.

Therefore, if you are on a budget, choose affordable premium VPNs like Surfshark. Alternatively, you can go for freemium options like ProtonVPN.

Claire James
Claire Jameshttp://www.firedigitaluk.com
Claire is an accounts manager at Fire Digital UK, an online publishing and content marketing company based in the North West.

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