Is online banking safe?


It's so annoying if I have to drive to W.Fargo to ask for my checking balance, or send money to people.

I'm concerned that hackers can enter online banking and wreak havoc.

Is this a valid concern?

Is online banking solid?

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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Online banking has been around for 20 years.  If it weren't reasonably safe, it wouldn't be so widely used.  Could something happen?  Of course.  And you could be killed in a car accident tomorrow.  HOW safe it is depends on you and your bank's security.  You could request/demand multi-factor authentication so even if a hacker gets one password, they can't get in without some other kind of confirmation.  I don't use Wells Fargo, but my stock brokerage uses Google Authenticator to confirm my identity even after I enter my password.

If you're ultra paranoid, buy a computer exclusively for online banking.  You can get a cheap new machine for $200.  And don't respond to e-mail notices requesting you verify your password - people getting tricked is USUALLY how hackers gain access to accounts - so in a sense, it depends on how gullible you are.

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Dave BaldwinFixer of ProblemsCommented:
Security problems with banks are almost Always with the users doing things wrong or giving their info to people who will cause problems.  Except for having to go to the bank to deposit checks, all my banking would be done online and has been since before the year 2000.
Dave BaldwinFixer of ProblemsCommented:
Note that banks have full-time computer security departments to keep things safe... so they can stay in business.
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
Online banking has been around for more than 20 years up here. All our big banks (bigger than most banks) offer secure online banking.

I pay almost all my bills online, transfer funds online and access my bank from my iPhone.

It is very secure.
Shaun VermaakTechnical SpecialistCommented:
If your bank offers an online banking App for mobile devices I would suggest you exclusively use it.

Generally speaking, it is more secure because of the trusted App store model.

You obviously need to take precautions for device loss but all major phone platforms have an implementation of a remote wipe.

The App must prompt for credential/fingerprint on each login and OTP on each transaction.
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
PC Online Banking was around long before Smart Phone and it is just as safe. My Bank does not differentiate between the two methods.

My Bank mobile app accepts both password and fingerprint and passwords were around (here) prior to fingerprints.
Shaun VermaakTechnical SpecialistCommented:
Most PC users have admin rights and install all sorts questionable software.

On mobile devices you do not have this access (unless you root or jailbreak) and can only install signed software from the store which can be remotely removed if required. You also have to approve all the various access you give application.
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
None of my clients have admin rights and most homeowners are more careful than suggested. Non-fingerprint and PC banking was out for decades before the current environment and succeeded handsomely
Shaun VermaakTechnical SpecialistCommented:
Search EE for questions regarding viruses, ransomware etc.
fred hakimRetired ITCommented:
Online banking as others have noted is safe.  Or, at least as safe as you make it.  The same is true for real world banking.  Just like the real world, where you guard your wallet, credit card,  pin, account numbers, SS numbers, etc.  You also need to guard your banking credentials and the devices you use for banking.  

I treat my PC and phone like my wallet -- I don't loan them to others with all the stuff inside. The kids and wife have their own machines, where they can look for free games, coupons, music, more facebook pals etc.  Using those machines for banking is like going down to the bad part of town to use an ATM.   Evil apps often lurk thereabouts.  They can be quite cleverly disguised too.  When asked to install an app to print a coupon,  wants access to my phone settings, or install a search banner, browser addon, my red flags go up.  

Phones are not exempt!  Apps like browsers or Facebook run their own little ecosystems that can be compromised with malware or addons.  Those free facebook games are a good example of how (unchecked by facebook) 3rd party code can run on your device.  They by default inherit credentials from the parent browser/app.  

So, I only trust banking on my own PC, which is scanned regularly for malware, spyware and viruses and  seldom exposed to "the bad side of town".
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