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How to protect your bank account from hackers
Published 30 January 2013 by Helen Gradwell
There are a number of really easy things you can do to make it more difficult for hackers to get into your bank account.
As banking becomes increasingly digital - with online banking and mobile payments - it becomes increasingly important to make sure your information is secure.
Just look at the current storyline over on Coronation Street. Lewis Archer manages to steal £40,000 from Gail's account by blackmailing Kylie into revealing Gail's log-in name and password.
Although this example is fictional, the fact that online banking security has made it onto one of the nation's biggest soap operas shows that it's a big issue. And the facts from 'reality' back this up.
In a Pay Your Way survey, one in three respondents admitted to sharing their log-in details with someone else. Three out of four use the same password for more than one online account.
Here's how to make your online bank account a bit less 'hackable'.
- Don't use the same password across multiple accounts - especially important accounts like your online banking. Avoid using variations of the same password as well. This is because, if somebody managed to get hold of this password, they could access more than one of your accounts.
- Change your passwords regularly. If you've been using your passwords for many years, it's time to change them.
- Don't tell anybody your password or PIN number.
- Avoid writing your password down - but if you have to, disguise it in a way only you will recognise.
- Be careful when you choose your security questions. Is that information readily available on the internet? For example, you might have disclosed your first pet's name or the place you met your partner on a social networking site.
- Make sure your anti-virus software is up-to-date.
- If anybody contacts you asking for your security details - even if they say they're from your bank - contact your bank directly on a secure number and ask them about it. It's likely that they will never ask you for your security details, but check if you're not sure.
- Use a mixture of letters, numbers, upper and lower case and symbols in your password if possible. The Payments Council recommends using the first line of a song or poem to help you remember - for example "The Grand Old Duke of York, he had ten thousand men" could turn into "TGODoYhh10000m".
The Payments Council also recommends using software that will randomly generate hard-to-guess passwords for each of your online accounts. You'd only need one 'master password' to get into this software and access them all. This sounds like a good idea - unless, of course, somebody manages to guess your master password...