Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How to Protect Banking Information on Your Computer

        Money | Online Banking

Computer Security for Online Banking

Remember that old warning about never sending an e-mail that you wouldn't want the world (or your mother) to read? Information too easily goes astray or ends up where you didn't intend. It's bad enough when you hit the reply-all button by accident, but when criminals are laying digital traps for you online, the risks are far worse.

Fortunately, you can minimize the risks you take when you bank online, and these days most banks don't hold you liable for any of the losses if you've taken a reasonable degree of caution with your account. Let's go over some of the things you can do to make sure that you're a low risk customer.

Be creative with your passwords. Using "MyThreeKids" as your password may show that you love your children, but your kids may not love you as much when you don't have any money left in your account come Christmas. Make your password memorable to you, but difficult (ideally impossible) for others to guess [source: Durgahee].

Avoid phishing scams by looking for signs of a secure Web site. Before plunking down your credit or debit card information, check to see if the checkout process of the Web site has a URL that starts with "https." Some browsers also include a lock or key icon to show that a Web site is secure. Always check the address to see if it matches what it should be, especially if you clicked on something in an e-mail or other unusual place to get to that page.

Lastly, you might think of firewalls as something only a company would want, but a relatively inexpensive personal firewall can add needed protection for your computer.

Next, let's take a look at some trends in online protection coming down the pipe.