Tips to Keep Data Secure When Using Digital Banking

A bald man sits at a desk in font of large, bright windows and looks down at his smartphone and smiles.

Digital banking makes it convenient to bank anywhere and at any time, from your phone or computer. While your bank takes preventive measures to keep your financial information secure when you use its mobile banking app and online banking tools, you’re an important first line of defense to keeping your data secure.

Make these simple tips part of your money management habits to protect your sensitive personal and financial information when you're banking digitally.

Avoid Using a public WiFi Connection

Public WiFi networks in coffee shops, airports, stores, restaurants are exactly that—public! The Federal Trade Commission explains that any information you send over one of these networks could technically be accessed by someone you don’t want to share your financial information with. To keep your information secure, wait to access your mobile or online bank account until you can log in using a secure, private and password-protected WiFi connection.

Regularly Update Your Phone and Computer Software

When you get notifications about software updates available on your phone, table or computers, install them right away. Often, these software updates happen because a vulnerability has been detected and patched.

Be Cautious of Information You Add to Apps

When you use a mobile banking or payment app, make sure it’s secure. The Fifth Third Mobile Banking app allows you to create a complex password that defers fraud, and requires a one-time passcode for certain transactions. If you're downloading your bank's mobile app for the first time, make sure to access it from your bank's website—not an app store—where you could be fooled into a downloading a convincing imposter app.

Always Check the URL Before Logging Into Your Account

Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encryption creates a secure connection with your browser when you visit your bank's website. Check to make sure there's an “https://” at the beginning of your bank website's URL before you try to log in.

Use Strong Passwords

You may have noticed that many online accounts now require that you use a password made up of a combination of letters, numbers, cases and punctuation. Norton says these requirements make passwords harder for a human to guess, and difficult for automated hacking software to crack. While some websites have less stringent password requirements than others, Norton says a strong password should include more than eight characters, which should include a combination of characters, cases and symbols.

Assign Different Passwords for Every Account

Stringent password requirements can make it difficult to create unique credentials for every site use with a username and password, but Krebs on Security says it’s important to use different passwords for all of your accounts—especially email accounts, and e-commerce sites. The reason? Data on these sites is frequently compromised, and you don’t have much control over whether it’s kept secure. While you can't necessarily control whether a website you use is hacked, you can be your own best line of defense by using unique passwords that hinder cyber criminals from using your log in information to access your financial accounts. If you really struggle to remember different passwords, consider using a password manager like Keeper Security Password Manager or LastPass. Both are two popular, low-cost options that help you choose and manage unique and strong passwords for every online account you establish.

Use Aggregator Sites with Caution

Third-party personal finance sites that compile your financial information from several different accounts (with your permission) can make it easier to budget and get one clear view of your finances—but Krebs on Security says they’re increasingly becoming targets for hackers. While it further explains that some aggregator sites have begun to use a new login system to give banks greater ability to enforce their own fraud detection and transaction scoring systems when aggregator systems and apps are linked to a bank account, not all currently do. Instead of hoping your information is safe, take advantage of personal finance and budgeting tools your bank offers, so you'll know exactly who has access to your data, and why.

Take Advantage of Two-Factor Authentication

If you’ve ever tried to change your password on your bank account and been prompted to receive an email, text message or phone call to verify your identity before you can do it, you’ve used multi-factor identification. While these small hurdles can be a little annoying, they exist to help your bank protect your sensitive information. Take advantage of this additionally layer of security whenever you're given the option.

The views expressed by the author are not necessarily those of Fifth Third Bank, National Association, and are solely the opinions of the author. This article is for informational purposes only. It does not constitute the rendering of legal, accounting, or other professional services by Fifth Third Bank or any of their subsidiaries or affiliates, and are provided without any warranty whatsoever.