As the world and the Internet become more mobile, so do mobile operations. The time waiting in line has become an opportunity to check email, check social network sites and even check bank balances. The increasing availability of public WiFi networks gives greater opportunity for laptop use for the same and other tasks. Because of its in-public nature, special consideration should be taken when accessing bank account information when engaging in mobile communications either via a cell phone or a laptop.
Many cell phones have cameras that are quick, easy and very quiet. Ensure no one can clearly see the screen on a cell phone or a laptop when logging in to your bank account in a public venue. Someone casually raising a cell phone behind you and snapping a picture of your screen or finger patterns on a keyboard can compromise your user name and/or passwords.
Sit in a corner or by a wall to reduce the possibility of your activities and keystrokes being monitored or captured on camera. Avoid sitting or standing by a window when you access your online account.
Tilt your laptop screen downward and away from travel areas or other tables. A slight angle change can vastly discourage visibility even from a few feet away. Keep the laptop screen naturally darkened as much as you can or use a glare screen to further inhibit unauthorized viewing of your activity.
Never use voice commands or a voice recognition program in public on either a cell phone or a computer. Audio commands are easier for a hacker or thief to follow than onscreen commands half-hidden and distorted by an off-angle.
Ask your bank if they can assign a second active user name associated with the same account. Explain that you access your online bank account a lot in a public environment, and you want the additional security of a limited-rights user name. Some banks gladly add the second access avenue. When accessing your online bank publicly, use only that second access information set.
If you do step even a few feet away, engage the functions lock on your laptop. Your computer will still function, but if someone wants to use it again—to have keyboard and mouse commands work, the user password must be correctly entered. Screen saver locks are fine, but there’s often a delay, allowing continued or resumed activity before the deadline to avoid the lock-down. Using the functions lock via the Start button secures the computer from keyboard or mouse control immediately.
- Change your password and security questions and answers often. When choosing answers to security questions, never enter factually correct responses. Anyone can find background data on anyone else.
Do not save access ID codes and passwords on the accounts. It takes only a few moments of inattention for a thief or hacker to access your saved data.
Don’t use your computer’s main administrator user name and password when computing in public.
If possible, change your main user name—and secondary access information if applicable—and associated email address on a regular schedule. Change those passwords as well.
Ensure you keep your OS, firewalls and anti-virus programs current.
Back up your data often onto a separate hard drive, not just on an on-board program.
When computing on the go and especially banking in a mobile environment, caution and precautions cannot be stressed enough. Paranoia goes a long way toward saving your bank balance, your email and other personal data. The phrase ‘watch your back’ has literal application in mobile security. Be safe and be careful.
About the Author
JC Ryan is a freelance writer for MyCollegesandCareers.com. My Colleges and Careers helps people determine if an online education is right for them and helps them understand which courses are available through an online college education program to help them reach their goals.