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How Safe Are Public and Home WiFi Networks for Banking?

Avoid logging onto any network that isn’t secure and you aren’t sure off.

Updated:March 19, 2019, 1:26 PM IST
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Avast, Cyber Attacks, Routers, IoT Devices
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Accessing your private information on any network you are unsure of, can be risky. Read on to learn how to protect yourself and your information.

Free WiFi makes it easy to do a whole bunch of things including shopping online, completing a study assignment or skyping with family living overseas. But just because it makes many things more convenient, doesn't mean that its risk-free. In fact, when it comes to your personal information, passwords and banking details, we wouldn’t trust it at all.

But what about when you’re using your home WiFi for online or mobile banking or your own computer in a public space? Let's talk about some of the most pressing questions about banking safely while on WiFi anywhere in the world.


Photo courtesy: Paul Hanaoka

How safe is mobile banking over WiFi?

Phone banking over unsecure WiFi networks leaves you just as susceptible to hacks as a computer. One of the more serious concerns when it comes to banking from your smartphone is the encryption protocol used by the WiFi device that you’re using to connect to the internet. WPA2 is the most secure while WPA is less secure. WEP on the other hand can be hacked in minutes and is the least secure of the three. When in doubt, the least you can do is check on what kind of security your network offers before logging on at all. But that’s not the only thing to watch for. Keep your phone safe by using firewalls and anti-malware apps, update your phones OS regularly, use strong passwords, double check before connecting to ANY hotspot or WiFi with a similar name to the hotel or establishment you’re at and never share any information over phone, pop-ups or instant messaging with anyone.


Photo courtesy: Nicole Honeywill

How safe is banking from your home WiFi network?

Online banking from using your home internet connection is safe if:

- your WiFi router is encrypted with WPA2 security.

- your computer is virus-free and has at least some basic level of anti-virus software.

- your operating system is kept updated.

- your browser is up-to date

Keeping all systems updated and protected gives you the best chance against newer and deadlier virus, some targeting specific details like bank accounts and personal information for surreptitious uses elsewhere.


Photo Courtesy: Hello I'm Nik

Is it safe to bank using an unsecure WiFi or a public access computer?

Short answer - NEVER! Banking on an unsecure network or a public access computer in a library, school or hotel goes against all common sense and makes you susceptible to all kinds of cybercrime.

Hackers can use an installed keylogger software to track and record every keystroke you type. This includes all the usernames and passwords you enter. Captured information can be used to gain access to your personal accounts directly or be sold to third parties for cybercrime on a larger scale.

Overall, avoid logging onto any network that isn’t secure and you aren’t sure off. When using public WiFi, do not conduct any sensitive data transfer or finance related business. If you must use your phone data hotspot in a private location - it’s not fool proof but definitely safer. Keeping your personal details safe is largely your own responsibility - so err on the side of caution always and ensure your data is always safe.

To know more, click here.

This content has been created in association with YONO SBI.

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