Monday, December 4, 2023

Ten Commandments to Safeguard Your Bank Account

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Experts warn against making any financial transactions on public Wi-Fi. Some even advise against checking social networks or email accounts for the same reason, because too much information can be exposed to hackers that can allow them to gain control of bank accounts. Also, there are rogue hot spots that direct users to legitimate-looking websites that prompt them to provide banking credentials.

Do not click on links that offer billion-dollar prizes

B88_pic_2Everyone is familiar with emails saying, ìYour email address has been selected to claim the sum of US$ 500,000 in the 2015 European lottery.î Expressions such as ìyour email address was selectedî or ìyour address has wonî are blabbermouth signs that the message is part of a scam. After all, you have not used your address to participate in a prize draw, have you? And if you have, it was unlikely to have been European lottery. Fraudsters obviously expect some recipients to suspect a scam and attempt to convince them otherwise.

Similarly, you may receive phishing messages promising a lottery win from Coca Cola, Googleís anniversary winning notification, Yahoo lottery award international programme, Microsoftís award promotion and what not. Should you receive an email of this type, visit the specific companyís official website; most likely you will find that the company is not actually holding a lottery of any kind. Google translate service has made life much easier for online fraudsters as now they can send messages to users all over the world in various languages.

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Do not trust customer service seeking banking credentials

A phishing mail is an email fraud method in which the perpetrator sends out legitimate-looking emails in an attempt to gather personal and financial information from recipients. Voice phishing (vishing) is the criminal practice of using social engineering over the telephone system to gain access to private personal and financial information from users with a financial motive. Some fraudsters use facilities like Voice over Internet Protocol, caller ID spoofing and automated systems (IVR).

Just like phishing, smishing uses mobile phone text messages to lure consumers. Often the text contains a URL or phone number. The phone number often has an automated voice response system. And again, just like phishing, the smishing message usually asks for your immediate attention. Do not respond to any such messages.

The questions you need to ask yourself are:

1. Do you know the sender of the email? If yes, still be cautious before clicking on a link. If no, do not click on any link.

2. Is there any attachment in the email? If yes, is it executable (a file with extensions like .exe, .bat, .com, .vbs, .reg, .msi, .pif, .pl or .php)? If so, do not click on the attachment. Even if the file does not contain the above-mentioned extensions, be cautious about opening it.

3. Does the email request personal information? If so, do not reply.

4. Have you checked the link? Move mouse over the link and check the URL. Does it look legitimate or does it look like it will take you to a different website?

If you receive an email or phone call asking you to call, and you suspect it might be a fraudulent request, look up the organisationís customer service number and call that number rather than the number provided in the solicitation email or phone call.

Do not sow your card in every card slot

How many of you have given the entire money in your account to waiter as a tip? Confused? Card skimmers, in the form of a small gadget that can be attached to a pantís belt are available in the market. Always be careful when you give your card to the waiter along with the invoice, and never acquaint him or her with your pin number. Beware of the following:
1. Card skimmers who can capture card data and store or transmit it wirelessly

2. Fake PIN pads to capture PINs

3. Wire-tapping devices placed in between telephone lines to which point-of-sale terminals are connected to capture card data during a transaction

4. Skimming devices sited over card slots of an ATM

Introduction of global Europay, MasterCard and Visa cards, and second-factor authentication like Verified by Visa/MasterCard Secure Code rollout, have brought a great level of security for card transactions. Banks have provided easier methods for customers to block cards and get a confirmation to that effect after blocking the card.

Thumb rule. Always insist on the card to be used in your presence and keep your password a secret. Never entrust your debit/credit card with anyone. Always have your bank helpdesk number handy so that it can be reached for blocking your card immediately in required cases.

Do not let anyone speculate your password

Many of us fill the very important password space with our full name, date of birth, mobile number, partnerís name and so on.

These are the details that you have populated in your social media profiles. And still you think that these are tough to guess! While in truth, these seemingly uncrackable passwords are commonly used for social media accounts, Internet banking, email accounts, e-wallets, etc. Always follow the thumb rule of using hard-to-guess passwords and change the same frequently.

Pattern passwords are present in mobile banking applications for making fund transfer simple and fast. Sometimes these patterns remain on your mobile screens, which result in a smudge attack.

Do not let your mobile phone be the tool to loot you

Cybercriminals use fake banking applications having the look and feel of legitimate banking apps to trick users. They also use other popular apps, such as utilities, chats, portals and security apps to rope users into their scams and steal their mobile banking credentials. These fake apps upload stolen user information such as mobile phone numbers, account details, login credentials and even text messages (OTPs) to the attackersí command and control servers. Some malwares/fake apps are delivered through text messages containing a link asking users to upgrade the bankís app or downloaded by other malware.

Always install applications from trusted sources. Your smartphone is powerful and, at the same time, vulnerable to viruses/malwares.

Do not give an opportunity to eavesdroppers

There can be a number of risks if you do not take proper care while using computers in Internet cafes and libraries. Avoid financial transactions that might reveal valuable passwords or personal information such as credit card numbers.
1. Check for hardware keyloggers.
2. If possible, use a trusted Web based spyware-detection program to scan for spyware before using an untrusted public computer.
3. While basic keyloggers do just that, for logging your keys you could use an on-screen/virtual keyboard.
4. If you have been using the Internet, ensure you use the browser tools to delete files and cookies and clear the browsing history.
5. Protect any passwords you are going to use by using the browserís Internet options menu. If in doubt, check the browserís Help option.
6. Consider changing any passwords you may have used on a public computer once you get back home.
7. Be on the lookout for shoulder surfers, that is, make sure that no one is watching over your shoulder while you enter your passwords.

I hope this article gives you at least a vague insight into the kinds of risks your bank accounts may be exposed to. While technological innovations have been a big boon to mankind in todayís fast-paced life, it is always better to put in a little caution from your end to ensure that the same technology does not strike back at you. After all, it is your hard-earned money at stake. Protect it from, as I may put it, e-looters. Do contact your bank immediately if you suspect any fraudulent activity in your bank account.


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