Online banking can be a great time saver for people who conduct banking transactions on a regular basis. Unfortunately, it also creates the opportunity for scammers to access your banking information and steal your money or your identity. So how can you protect yourself? Here are five tips to make online banking more secure:

1. Use a strong password

When choosing a password for your online banking account, never use a word that could be easy to guess. Don't use your name, a pet's name, your phone number or date of birth as part of your password. Use a random word that's completely irrelevant to your private life, or better yet, make up a word. Also be sure the word includes a combination of lower cases, upper cases and symbols - this makes it less likely to be typed in by chance. If you are concerned about remembering a difficult password, use a password manager on your computer, which will store passwords for you.

2. Use two-factor authentication

Two-factor authentication uses a password plus another security layer to protect your banking details. The additional security layer can be a code that the bank texts or emails to you when you attempt to log in. Some banks will provide you with a token or device that will generate a personalized code. You will have to use the code in conjunction with your login details to access your account, however, it prevents someone from logging into your account with the password alone.

3. Beware of emails

If you ever receive an email asking you to provide your banking password or other details, delete the email immediately and contact your bank. Banks do not ask for your login credentials via email. Your password is your property and should not be shared with anyone else. Never click on a link in an email, even if the email says there is a problem with your account. Hackers and scammers create very sophisticated copies of websites to resemble your bank's log in page. However, these pages are fake and are designed to steal your log in credentials as soon as you enter them. Always connect to your online banking account by typing the URL manually in your browser.

4. Secure your devices

Install an anti-virus program and firewall on your computer and keep them up to date. Make sure your operating system is current and that all your software, including your anti-virus program, is updated to the latest version. Those annoying software updates usually contain security patches and fixes, so be sure to install the updates as soon as you receive them or schedule automatic updates. This also applies to any mobile devices you use to access your online banking account.

Also, avoid logging into your bank account from public computers in libraries or cybercafés. Use your own computer to reduce the risk of viruses or keystroke loggers that could steal your banking information.

5. Log out

Always log out of your bank's website when you're done. Ending the session by logging out will protect your account from various hacking attempts such as session hijacking, in which a hacker uses a cookie stored on the user's computer to re-route the communication with the bank's server, or to gain access to the log-in session. It is also good practice to clear the cookies from your browser cache for additional security.

Online banking can be convenient; however, there is always the risk that your banking details can fall in the wrong hands. Take steps to protect yourself by creating a strong password, using two-factor authentication, securing your computer and recognizing phishing emails. These extra steps will help prevent unauthorized access and keep your account secure.

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