Now savvy Internet users can also use new online security options and more sophisticated best practices to gain greater control of your personal information and online accounts. Learn more about these next-generation trends and how they can help boost your safety and privacy online:
We’ve all seen examples of biometrics in science fiction: the scanner that checks your iris or palm print before unlocking the door. This sort of technology is quickly becoming reality. Facial recognition software, touch ID, voice prints, gait recognition (based on the way you walk) and even how you interact with your smartphone (called heuristics) are all expected to become more popular in the coming years. Fingerprint readers are already available on smartphones and mobile devices and can be used to access software as well as the devices themselves. For example, Bank of America recently launched fingerprint and Touch ID sign-in capabilities for its mobile banking app, and some password managers (see below) offer Touch ID-enabled versions.
Biometrics are gaining steam for two reasons: They are easy to use and provide an additional layer of internet security. Unlike written passwords, which can be difficult to remember and should be changed regularly, biometrics, by their nature, are unique to you. In terms of security, biometric-based methods establish a strong link between users and their identities. Unlike a written password, which can easily be copied and used by anyone, a fingerprint is difficult to duplicate. Furthermore, in an environment where social media is making more and more of our private information public, old security questions (“What’s your mother’s maiden name?”) aren’t as secure as they once were.
Secure browsing experiences
For a long time, HTTP sites were the standard; however now, given the need for more secure browsing experiences, more and more sites are adapting to an encrypted HTTPS site. When you communicate though an HTTPS site, your information is encrypted. When you visit websites with an HTTP address, everything you do is unencrypted and can be easy for others to access. With the rise of social media and increased flow of personal information online, big websites increasingly offer HTTPS versions of their websites, and Google uses HTTPS availability to rank pages higher in searches.
More complex passwords
There's a new victim every 2 seconds, according to a study by Javelin Strategy and Research. These crimes can happen in different ways and take on various forms. So as identity theft continues to escalate, a strong password is your first line of defense. For this reason, websites have upped their password requirements, often requiring stronger passwords that combine numbers, upper and lowercase letters, and symbols.
With more and more sites requiring longer and more complex passwords, it can be challenging to remember all of them. Keep in mind a few best practices:
1. Do not allow your browser to store your password. Saving your information in your browser or your computer’s keychain password management system can leave you vulnerable.
2. Be sure to log off of sites and exit the browser when you are done.
3. Do not use the same password for multiple sites.
An increasing number of sites offer users the option of logging in with what’s referred to as a master ID, for example your Facebook or Twitter login. Another option for keeping track of passwords is an online password manager. Keep in mind that online password manager websites can be compromised just like any other. So choose a well-reviewed password manager, change your master password often and keep an eye on reported security breaches.
Sites are increasingly offering another way to make your logins more secure: two-factor authentication. Instead of simply entering your login name and password, sites with two-factor authentication require you to enter another piece of information, such as a PIN, a security question or a one-time code texted to your phone.
The second code is often time-sensitive and is more secure when sent to a personal mobile device; even if unauthorized users gain access to your primary password, it is considerably more difficult for them to gain access to the second component. Many popular social media sites and webmail programs allow you to opt into two-factor authentication. If the second security validation factor is a security question, be careful not to select an answer that can be readily found in social media or public records.
Many banks, including Bank of America, offer extra security at sign-in via a one-time authorization code. The Bank of America code, for example, can only be used once and will expire within ten minutes after it is sent. Your ability to receive and enter the code helps verify your identity.
The importance of staying safe online continues to be paramount for your privacy and financial security. Keeping up with the latest trends, newest security options and tried and true best practices can help keep you safe online.