From way back, our ancestors had the their effective ways of keeping their valuables like gold, minerals and other trading currencies away from the sharp guys(city born). They dug holes where they were kept underground, in bushes etc. However, times have changed– today, most valuable items such as money, wills, are kept with the financial institutions (banks) and with the advancement of technology a lot of things have come on board including ATMs, online banking, mobile banking.
This mean as Ugandans we developed to a level where we can carry out transactions anywhere not excluding the comfort of our own bedrooms. But lets not forget the bad guys out there, or can I call them hackers (or Little Tom in this article) who have found very effective ways on how to manipulate ignorant bank users to electronically own their hard-earned funds.
With the growth of online banking in Uganda, these are some pointers that you should know to ensure that you can carry out transactions electronically with little or no fear of online hackers.
1.Use Strong Passwords
Use a strong password at least 10 characters combining upper case and lower case letters, numbers and symbols. This is a very common form of security but very few people use strong and secure passwords. For example, the most common passwords used include 123456, wife’s name, birthday, favorite pets name among others. However, a password like “123Qwe,./” is very hard for little Tom seated on his computer to guess or even crack using hacking tools.
2.Install a Security software suite
Install a security software suite that includes antivirus, anti-spyware, malware and adware detection from a reputable vendor such as Avast, AVG. Do not forget to turn on that software up-to-date through an automatic update feature and configure it to perform recurring, automated complete system scans on a routine basis. This will help to protect a computer against known viruses, malware and adware but remember many viruses, malware and adware programs are undetectable by antivirus software.
3.Update System Software and hardware
Routinely install all new software and hardware patches or use the automatic update feature, when available. Ensure that all your software, including your operating system and application software such as Microsoft Office, Adobe Flash, Apple QuickTime, Adobe Acrobat, etc., are updated as well and not just the operating system.
4.Set up a non-privileged account on your Computer
Setup and use to prevent unauthorized changes to the computer. Use this non-privileged account for web browsing whenever possible.
5.Be well conversant with the type of questions asked by the bank
Know the type of questions that are asked to verify your identity by the financial institution. Little Tom can change the login page which will allow him to see your answers and to add additional security questions. When you log in the information is transmitted while also giving him all your account information.
6.Do not open suspicious messages
Be suspicious of emails and text messages purporting to be from your institution or those popular messages “You have won $20,000 send us your account details to claim your money”. Financial institutions should not contact you via email to request you to verify information. If you believe the contact may be legitimate, do not use the link provided in the email, and instead type in the link to your financial institution in your browser for more verification.
7.Know which credit card to use for which purpose
Restrict online purchases to reduce the risk of account numbers being compromised. If you do shop with a regular credit card, use only a single credit card, with a low limit. Choose a credit card with an online purchase protection plan if possible and monitor the activity on that card as often as possible; at least every two or three days.
8. Lock your Computer when not in use
Always lock your computer when you leave it unattended this is where Windows + L comes in handy or alternatively set the computer to automatically lock after a set period of inactivity, e.g. 15 minutes. This means that even when you are away having that private conversion with “Mr. Right” which you wouldn’t wish your neighbor to eavesdrop your computer will display that “DON’T TOUCH ME MESSAGE”.
9. Do not Use public networks to access your account
Never access your financial institution from a public computer at a hotel, favorite coffee shop or public wireless access point as these are little Tom favorite hacking points. Here he can capture all your internet activity including all your passwords and the details related to your financial accounts.
10. Report any suspicious activities on your account to the authorities
Immediately report any suspicious activity in your accounts. This is the time you befriend officers of the SIU (Special Investigations Unit) at Kireka. There is a limited recovery window and a rapid response by these specially trained guys may prevent additional losses.