The Ins and Outs of Online Banking

louis@buterawm.com |

In a few short years, it seems as though the banking industry has revolutionized. It is now easier (and more convenient than ever) to tend to your banking needs, all from the comforts of your pajamas. Gone are the notions of banking hours, and the never-ending lines when you want to deposit your paycheck.

However, if you’re a bit wary of the latest tech, some of the newer online banking options seem a little too good to be safe. Rest assured that the overall consensus from both banks and computer wizards is that as long as you’re smart, online banking is secure. PC Magazine suggests that the simplest way to remain secure in online banking may be the most obvious one: Use a Strong Password. “A malefactor who cracks or guesses your online banking password can drain your account dry. If you memorize just one strong password, make it your online banking password.1

According to most experts,2 a strong password is one that:

Has 12 Characters, Minimum: You need to choose a password that’s long enough. There’s no minimum password length everyone agrees on, but you should generally go for passwords that are a minimum of 12 to 14 characters in length. A longer password would be even better.

Includes Numbers, Symbols, Capital Letters, and Lower-Case Letters: Use a mix of different types of characters to make the password harder to crack.

Isn’t a Dictionary Word or Combination of Dictionary Words: Stay away from obvious dictionary words and combinations of dictionary words. Any word on its own is bad. Any combination of a few words, especially if they’re obvious, is also bad. For example, “house” is a terrible password. “Red house” is also very bad.

Doesn’t Rely on Obvious Substitutions: Don’t use common substitutions, either—for example, “H0use” isn’t strong just because you’ve replaced an o with a 0. That’s too obvious. And if you’re having trouble remembering the one—or many—secure passwords for your various accounts, there are excellent password manager tools to help simplify your life. A tool like LastPass can help keep your banking safe and secure. “In the real world you probably have more than one online financial account. Rather than strain your brain memorizing tough, hard-to-crack passwords for each of them, enlist the help of a password manager. The best ones not only store your passwords securely but also help you work through your collection of passwords and replace weak ones and duplicates. Furthermore, you can get excellent password management without paying a penny (though you do get more from the paid services).3

So what exactly can you use online banking for? Here are a few of the ways online banking can help with your finances.

1. Manage your cash flow  

Have up-to-the-minute information on your expenses and earnings. Some banking apps even have features that illustrate your spending and earning patterns with graphs.

2. Simplify your government remittances

Easily receive your tax returns, and just as easily pay any owings to the government. Gone are the days of posting checks or waiting in line at the post office, online banking has simplified that procedure.

3. Access all your accounts at any time, even outside office hours

I can’t relay enough how important this is. Not only important but revolutionary in giving you the power to control your finances. Many online banking and financial services sites allow you to check balances, transfer funds, pay bills, manage your investment portfolio, and even deposit checks via computer and/or phone, 24 x 7 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Resources
1. https://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2465491,00.asp
2. https://www.howtogeek.com/195430/how-to-create-a-strong-password-and-remember-it/
3. https://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2465491,00.asp

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