Internet 101: Beginner’s guide to make safest online transactions

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New Delhi | Updated: June 08, 2018 11:15 PM

Of all the threats that can hamper financial transactions on the Internet, the most infamous is the ransomware and spyware trojans that feed on the hypersensitive data you enter while making transactions. And there are chances that a trifle of yours could just flush out all your money from your account.

Your online transactions aren’t as secure as you think they are (Source: Pixabay)

We are all familiar with the world of Internet that gives us numerous utilitarian facilities, in addition to of course looking up something online. One of the useful services that a lot of people avail on a regular basis is online payments. The online banking services, shopping, buying phone tariffs, and managing stocks involve the transfer of money from one end to the other.

While the interface employed by the website that you are using to transact money has a mandatory encryption of at least 128-bit standard, you never know what potential threat might be lurking to pounce on your private banking data and set you back by a voluminous loss.

“As technology evolves, so do the opportunities and the means used by the ‘bad people’ to target and ensnare gullible victims into parting with their credentials and their money,” said Niranjan Upadhye, Head, Fraud Risk Management Function at Worldline India. He added that the variations in the users’ attitudes, awareness, and education levels during making online transaction cover the entire spectrum of Internet use, so it becomes highly significant to ensure safety for all the transactions.

Of all the threats that can hamper financial transactions on the Internet, the most infamous is the ransomware and spyware trojans that feed on the hypersensitive data you enter while making transactions. And there are chances that a trifle of yours could just flush out all your money from your account. We have compiled a list of measures that you can take to spruce up your online payments security:

1 – Opt-in for OTP – The Reserve Bank of India had relaxed the two-factor authentication for the payments below Rs 2,000 in 2016. However, all the transactions above this limit must be carried out after the bank or equivalent institution receives an OTP as a permit from the user. While this may sound like a breather to some people who are annoyed by pesky OTP SMSes, the two-factor authentication must be your first step towards making your transaction secured. No matter what amount you’re transacting, conform to the OTP method for online payments.

Similarly, the mobile number that is associated with your bank account has to be reachable to you or someone you trust. If you have lost your mobile number, ensure its replacement as soon as possible. In case of a stolen mobile phone, discontinue your mobile number immediately and send out an application to retrieve the old mobile number on a new SIM card.

The OTPs are very sensitive and shouldn’t be disclosed to strangers. You must have come across the reminders from your banks asking you not to share your card details and OTPs with anyone who claims to belong to your bank – well, they are sent for a reason.

2 – Check for website encryption – All the bank websites, payment gateways, and digital payments platforms are secured with HTTPS socket (128-bit SSL or 256-bit SSL) that brings not only confidentiality to your transactions but also verifies the vendor for their certifications with the online payments infrastructures such as VeriSign.

You can check the legitimacy of a website by looking at the URL bar on your browser. If you use Google Chrome, the website must show the ‘Secure’ label in green colour on the left side of the URL. You can click on this label to gain more information about the website you have opened. On other browsers such as Firefox, Microsoft Edge, and Opera, a similar label is marked beside the URL – sometimes it’s just the lock icon in green colour.

If you don’t see ‘Secure’ label for an URL, don’t even think of moving ahead with your banking details. Nonetheless, the browser will automatically block the website before you could interact with it.

3 – Keep a separate password – Even though you have the two-factor authentication available for all the transactions, you are still encouraged to create a password for all of them. The password will come in handy when you don’t have access to your mobile number that is registered with the bank. The password should be a strong one, needless to say, that an easy password like your mobile number, name, a family member’s name is hackable without much effort.

A strong password should at least be of 8 characters with a mix of both uppercase and lowercase English letters, numbers, and symbols. Also, while creating a password, you should keep in mind the excluded symbols for a password, such as an exclamation mark ‘!’. After you are done creating a password, the browser will offer you to save the password for later use. While you may choose to save the password at will, it should be avoided. There are many spyware elements that can hoard nefarious trackers in a browser to check on the passwords.

4 – Have your software, apps updated – Besides using an app downloaded from a legitimate marketplace – Google Play for Android, App Store for iOS, macOS, and Microsoft Store, you should always keep your app updated to the latest version. There are multiple online threats that keep cropping up regularly and the latest app version ensures that your phone’s ecosystem is safeguarded from any intrusion. Needless to say, you should use the authentic firmware on your device that will harbour safety.

In addition to the aforementioned steps, there are two other measures that should be strictly followed by mobile phone users, shared by Upasana Taku, co-founder, MobiKwik.

5 – Lock your phone/ wallet – You should ensure that you use pattern or security code and keep your phone always locked for the safety of the money in your account/ wallet. Also, activate security code of your wallet/account so that no one can use your it without your knowledge. Keep a password that is hard to guess & change it as often as possible.

6 – Link to relevant apps – Link your mobile wallet/ account to the apps which are relevant for you or the apps that you use frequently. Avoid linking your wallet to every app. Check if the app is trustworthy before you connect it with your wallet

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