In today’s fast-paced business world, online banking is an essential tool. It offers convenience, efficiency, and real-time access to manage finances. However, with this convenience comes the responsibility of protecting your funds from cyber threats.

There are many steps that can be implemented to enhance your cyber resilience as an individual, and protect yourself against online banking threats.

Protecting yourself online

  1. Stay Informed: Keep yourself updated on the latest cyber security threats and trends related to online banking. Follow reputable sources such as cyber security blogs, financial institutions’ security advisories, and government agencies’ alerts.
  2. Use Strong Authentication: Enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) whenever possible. This adds an extra layer of security by requiring more than one form of verification to access your online banking accounts, such as a password and a unique code sent to your mobile device. To improve account security most banks use Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) which involves multiple identity checks such as entering your password and using a single passcode sent via SMS or generated on a card reader.
  3. Keep Software Updated: It is important to ensure that all devices you use for online banking, including computers, smartphones, and tablets, have up-to-date operating systems, antivirus software, and security patches installed. Regularly update your banking apps to the latest versions provided by your financial institution.
  4. Use Secure Connections: Only access your online banking accounts from secure and trusted networks. Avoid using public Wi-Fi networks for banking transactions, as they may be vulnerable to interception by cyber criminals. If you need to access your accounts on public Wi-Fi, it is recommended to use a virtual private network (VPN).
  5. Be Vigilant Against Phishing: Be cautious of unsolicited emails, text messages, or phone calls requesting your banking information or directing you to click on suspicious links. Phishing scams are a common tactic used by cyber criminals to steal sensitive information. Verify the legitimacy of any communication before providing any personal or financial information.
  6. Monitor Account Activity: Regularly review your banking transactions and account statements for any unauthorised or suspicious activity. Set up alerts through your banking app or online banking portal to notify you of any unusual activity, such as large withdrawals or transfers. If you notice any suspicious activity in your account report it immediately
  7. Use Strong Passwords: Create strong, unique passwords for your online banking accounts using “three random words” and avoid using the same password for multiple accounts. It is also recommended to use a reputable password manager to securely store and manage your passwords.
  8. Secure Your Devices: Keep your devices secure by enabling device encryption, using biometric authentication where available (such as fingerprint or facial recognition), and setting up screen locks with strong passcodes. Avoid downloading apps or clicking on links from untrusted sources that could potentially contain malware. Check out the NCSC guidance on smart devices to learn how to use them safely.

What to do if you become a victim of financial fraud  

Don’t panic: Although it may feel overwhelming if you fall victim to online banking fraud, it’s important to stay calm and focused. Acting irrationally in a state of panic could worsen the situation. Stay composed, assess the situation calmly, and plan your next steps thoughtfully. Remember that you are not alone and there are many resources and organisations that can help you.  

Contact your bank immediately: Notify your bank or financial institution as soon as you become aware of potential fraud. They can help you secure your account and initiate an investigation into the fraudulent activity. In many instances, victims may receive a full or partial reimbursement, depending on the circumstances.  

If you believe that you have sent money to a fraudster, you should contact your bank immediately and report all details of the transaction. Your bank may be able to either stop the transaction from going ahead or recover your money from the fraudster’s account. You should also contact the bank you sent the money to and let them know the account number, as they may be able to halt the transfer and get your money back.  

Report the crime: As mentioned previously, it’s of utmost importance to report a scam to your bank. You can also report to Police Scotland by calling 101, even if you have only experienced an attempted scam. Not every report will result in an investigation, but they all contribute to helping better understand how scams work and who is behind them.  

Review and improve security measures: In the aftermath of falling victim to financial fraud it’s important to assess your cyber security measures for online banking and make necessary improvements to lessen the risk of falling victim again. 

Seek emotional support if needed: Experiencing fraud can affect more than your finance, it can also affect your mental health. No matter how big or small the online scam is, if you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained or simply stressed out, it’s important to reach out for emotional support. Simply talking to someone you trust may help alleviate some of the stress, there are also many organisations that you can contact to discuss your negative mental state and seek help if needed.  

Remember that practicing good cyber security habits is an ongoing process, so stay vigilant and proactive in safeguarding your financial information online.

Further Cyber Secure Banking guidance:

Back to top of the page