The ability to make financial transactions and investments online has made life a lot easier for many of us in recent years. In fact, 7 out of 10 people in the UK now bank online according to a study carried out by the Office for National Statistics. In the US, figures show that around two-thirds of Americans now bank online. Even back in 2015, a survey by Bankrate Money Pulse also discovered that 48% of Americans purchased stocks or dabbled with stock-based investments including mutual funds and 401(k)s.
Yet, this change to the way that we handle our money has brought with it something of a fear factor too. Not everyone feels comfortable transferring money over the internet or investing online. So, what tips should you bear in mind to make sure that you can do this safely?
Browsers vs Mobile Apps
Is it safer to visit a bank or trading platform on your browser or to use a mobile app? In general terms, apps are faster and store data locally rather than pass it all over the internet. However, while there are some security risks with apps these can be mitigated by using good coding and putting identification measures in place.
Some good examples of safe mobile apps include those issued by big banks such as Bank of America, Barclays, and Wells Fargo. The confidence levels provided by banking apps is reflected in the fact that research by the American Bankers Association showed that 26% of Americans prefer mobile banking over online banking via desktop.
When it comes to investing and trading, the security features that are used by brokers are just as important as those used by online banks. For example, the IG trading platform, which offers online forex trading, as well as markets on shares, indices and cryptocurrencies, offers two-factor authentication (2FA). This prevents cyber-hackers from guessing clients' passwords thanks to a one-time verification code sent to a device linked with the client's account. IG's native mobile app has the same security measures which, along with its user interface, has led to it being labelled "indispensable" by the Sunday Times App List.
"Using mobile phone in cafe" (CC BY 2.0) by barnimages.com
Look for the HTTPS Protocol
A crucial element you should look at when you enter any sort of site is how its address starts. If it begins with HTTPS then this is a good sign that you can enter financial information on it without any problems.
Sites which use this prefix ensure that all of the data sent between the site and your computer is encrypted. You will also see a padlock on the screen that confirms that it is completely safe for you to use. If it starts with HTTP then it isn't fully encrypted, meaning cyber-criminals can, if they so wish, gain access to your sensitive data such as your trading portfolio or bank account details.
Keep Your Computer and Phone Updated and Free of Viruses
No matter what transactions or investments you carry out online, it is important to keep your devices free of viruses. The first step in this process is to make sure that all your software is completely up to date, as outdated programs leave devices highly vulnerable to cyber-attacks.
You should also run a reliable anti-virus program on a regular basis. This will let you identify and remove any potential threats that are lurking on there. According to a recent Tech Radar report, the best anti-virus software includes Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2019 and Norton AntiVirus Basic.
If you stick to these simple points, then you can carry out your financial business online with no fear at all. This will allow you to bank, trade, and invest in the way that best suits you from now on.