Consumer, Family Safety

Guiding College Students to Safely Bank Online

By on Aug 10, 2011

McAfee recently released an online guide for Safe Virtual Banking to help users of all technical levels get the tips they need to use virtual banking with confidence. According to the guide, McAfee discovered three main personality types when it comes to online banking.

My oldest son falls in the first group and I know that he and his friends are going to be a bit offended when they read the description of the following category: 

“Competent But A Little Careless”: Ages 18-24

This group is the most comfortable with technology but they tend to be overconfident, sometimes forgetting to put basic security practices into place.

They will complain and then I will ask if paying for a comprehensive security suite takes priority over buying the Portal, L.A. Noire or the latest incarnation of Ocarina of Time? ; )

But seriously, what I hope to accomplish in this post is to give the young adults in this group the ability to take advantage of the latest high tech virtual banking while making sure that criminals are not the reason for the limited funds in their bank account.

44% of these Digital Natives prefer online banking to more traditional methods [1], however 68% do not have even basic antivirus on their computer[2].

This makes a little bit of sense to me because they probably never were responsible or even aware if there was antivirus on the family pc.

So to my son, his friends and all of the young adults in this group, I want you to know that 55,000 pieces of malware are found on the web daily. You guys are so very savvy, finding the latest sites, spending time on social networks, and torturing your poor mom with nyan cat. So you may also be the first to actually find the Trojans, keyloggers and malware that are lurking out there on the interwebs and then pass it on to me!

Have you ever seen one of those computers that can’t go to a web site without a bajillion pop-ups filling the screen? You ever see one of those pop-ups on the screen that says “You’re computer is infected!”? Has one of your friends ever sent out hundreds of status updates, messages or links letting you know that there was a video you just couldn’t miss because of the crazy content?

You probably already know that those are all examples of viruses and malware. That mucks up your computer and some try to steal your passwords. It also slows down your computer when you are playing mmorpg’s. The way to avoid that is to have a security suite on your computer and never go without.

So if you don’t have a current subscription, I am asking you to put down your computer and go ask your parents for one of the licenses for their Security Suite (they usually come with 3). If they don’t have a current subscription, please ask them to take you to a store like Fry’s or Best Buy and pick out the most comprehensive security suite  – that includes a firewall, antivirus, anti spyware – the whole nine yards! Make sure they put it on their computers too!

If your parents aren’t going to go for that, I want you to skip just one new video game this year and invest in the security of your computer.

Get that on your computer (or smartphone – you need it there too) before you do your banking online. Once you have all that in place, you only have to keep a few tips in mind:

  1. Keep your security suite up to date and set to automatically update. Run regular scans to keep your computer running well.
  2. Never click on a link in an email that looks like it came from your bank. Scammers use this phishing scheme to try to get in your account. Always just open a tab and type in the bank address or use your bookmark to make sure you aren’t going to a phony site.
  3. Review your bank statement every month and make sure that there aren’t any bad charges. Report any fraud immediately to your bank.
  4. Use strong passwords! If you are still using the same password from your first email address when you were 8, it is time to change!  Bank passwords should be different from any other password!
  5. Download SiteAdvisor. It is a free add-on that will tell you if a site is safe, might spam you or contains malware. It doesn’t protect you from viruses, but it tells you what sites you shouldn’t bother to visit


Share this with your friends and when you do, tell them that I just won The Game!

Stay safe out there!

@McAfeeCyberMom on Twitter

[2] Second Annual Antivirus, Browser, and Mobile Security Report, Javelin Strategy & Research, July 2011