More and more people are using their bank’s online banking services to conveniently check their bank statements from home, transfer their rent, or pay their bills. Even with banks doing all they can to keep our accounts secure, there are still concerns about identity theft and financial loss. As VPN (Virtual Private Network) use is becoming more ubiquitous, people are starting to question if using a VPN is safe for online banking.
VPNs provide more security
In general, VPNs are considered an important defense against hackers and data snoopers. Once enabled, a VPN creates an extra-secure data tunnel to the server of the VPN provider that anonymizes all connections to the internet. This means your online activities leave no trace. Using a VPN on public Wi-Fi networks where you share the connection with many people is particularly useful, but it can be just as important in a private home setting when wanting to be extra careful with sensitive data.
In terms of banking, without a VPN, your transactions, along with information such as your name and bank details, can potentially be accessed by hackers and used to steal your money or identity. However, if you use a VPN, your data traffic is additionally encrypted, so that your transactions are safe from prying eyes.
When to use a VPN for online banking
Accessing your bank account on public Wi-Fi
If you use a public Wi-Fi connection, such as a hotspot in a restaurant, airport, or hotel it’s a good idea to enable an extra layer of protection. A VPN will hide your location and IP address when sharing an open network, thus making it hard for anyone with bad intentions to find you and even harder for them to hack into your device. Plus, your data will be encrypted, meaning no one can eavesdrop on your communications or intercept private information like login credentials or passwords.
Online banking while traveling
Some banks monitor IP addresses so they can be on the alert for banking activity on an account from abroad. While this is generally a good thing, it could create problems while traveling and wind up blocking access to your account. Using a VPN to connect to a server in your home country will make sure that you don’t get locked out.
Using mobile apps for online banking
Most of us are getting more comfortable taking care of our tasks on our phones, including banking. But mobile phones, especially Android devices are often targeted by hackers, trojans, and malware. Even if a banking app encrypts the data sent from your phone, having a VPN enabled ensures more all-around protection, especially when transferring funds on the go.
Other ways to secure your online bank account
While using a VPN is a good option for online privacy and security there are other actions you can take to secure your online bank account. The first thing is to change your password. Chances are, you, like most people, aren’t using one that is long or complex enough. The importance of a strong, unique password should not be underestimated, a proper choice should contain a mix of numbers, letters, and symbols. As this random string will probably be hard to remember, be sure to write it down and keep it offline. Or you could simplify things and start using a password manager that creates passwords that are practically impossible to hack and safely store them for convenient access.
Secondly, even when using a VPN you are still potentially vulnerable to threats like malware, viruses, and trojans. It’s important to have powerful antivirus software installed on your devices, including mobile phones to protect against attacks. Lastly, make sure your device is running up-to-date software, so you are covered by the latest security patches.