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Internet Safety Essentials from Bank of America Learn internet safety tips to help minimize computer security threats. Discover internet security essentials from Bank of America. Internet safety essentials: What you need to know When it comes to Internet safety, most of us are familiar with the basics: Keep your operating system and browsers up to date, use strong and varied passwords, carefully maintain your privacy settings on social media and don't open attachments or links from unfamiliar email senders. Savvy Internet users also can take advantage of advanced online security options that combine convenience and security. By combining state-of-the-art technology and new best practices, you'll have more control over your personal information and online accounts. Learn more about these next-generation trends and how they can help you boost your safety and privacy online: Biometrics 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 are 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 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, encrypted HTTPS sites were used for financial transactions and little else. When you communicate though an HTTPS site, a third party encrypts all your information. When you visit websites with an HTTP address, everything you do is unencrypted and 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. The growing popularity of sites that require logins means that sites are more easily able to log your every visit and track your movements to other destinations. To combat this trend, consider installing an ad-blocking app that stops websites from tracking your browsing habits and reduces targeted marketing. These tools are helpful from a security standpoint as well, since they keep hackers from accessing your private information via the cookies websites used to track you. Apple, for example, added ad-blocking capability for the iPhone with iOS9. Consider subscribing to a personal virtual private network (VPN), which secures your computer's Internet connection and encrypts all the data you send and receive. More complex passwords For security reasons, websites have upped their password requirements, often requiring passwords that combine numbers, upper and lowercase letters, and symbols. Because such passwords can be difficult to keep organized, you might be tempted to say yes when your browser offers to store that information; however, don't select "remember me." Saving your information in your browser or your computer's keychain password management system leaves you vulnerable. Also be sure to log off of sites and exit the browser when you are done. An increasing number of sites offer users the option of logging in with a master ID, whether that's your Facebook or Twitter login or third-party logins like OpenID or OAuth. Users can also consider using one of a growing number of online password managers to keep track of their passwords. Of course, these 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. Two-factor authentication 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. Be careful not to select security questions with answers that can be readily found in social media or public records. 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 in to two-factor authentication. Bank of America customers can also opt for extra security at sign-in via a one-time authorization code. The code can only be used once and will expire within 10 minutes after it is sent. Your ability to receive and enter the code helps verify your identity. Bank of America computer security threat, internet safety, internet security essentials
Internet Safety Essentials from Bank of America Learn internet safety tips to help minimize computer security threats. Discover internet security essentials from Bank of America.

Internet safety essentials: What you need to know

Man being secure online

These emerging Internet safety trends can help protect your privacy.

When it comes to Internet safety, most of us are familiar with the basics, including keeping your operating system and browsers up to date; using strong and varied passwords; carefully maintaining your privacy settings on social media; and not opening attachments or links from unfamiliar email senders.

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:

Biometrics

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.

Two-factor authentication

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.