How Secure Is Online Banking Abroad

Especially In Public WiFi Networks Data Can Be Easily Intercepted

If you are travelling abroad with your smartphone, you should take some security precautions.

Public WiFi access without encryption should be avoided when it comes to online banking. Because in unencrypted WiFi networks abroad you never know who is reading the data streams. Unauthorised persons could gain access to user names or passwords by monitoring traffic. That’s why travellers in such open networks should avoid online banking or shopping.

In general, functions such as Bluetooth and WLAN should only be switched on when you really need them. In this way, users can protect themselves from unwanted access.

If the phone is stolen unnoticed, for example from the table of the beach café, PIN code and a display lock protect against misuse. Security experts recommend using a combination of numbers or a password, as the pattern lock popular with Android phones can often be recognized by wipe marks on the display. Protecting photos, contacts, and music files from theft or damage is a good idea when using online storage services such as OneDrive, Google Drive, iCloud or other third-party services.

It is also a good idea to install tracking software. This allows the device to be tracked in the event of loss. Such security packages often also have a remote deletion function. With this function, personal data can be deleted remotely. However, this requires a connection to the Internet.

Is Money Transfer Via The Internet Safe?

– Even on the road? – Even in an Internet café?

To anticipate the quintessence for the hurried reader:

Yes, Internet banking abroad is safe if you follow a few important safety instructions yourself!

All the following security tips for online banking and online payment by credit card are logically understandable. You only need to briefly consider the principle of electronic money transfer via the Internet – and the tricks used by Internet criminals who want to exploit security weaknesses in banking transactions to enrich themselves unlawfully.

Dear reader in a hurry, take a minimum of time – it is more effective to read on here systematically than to try to piece together the various aspects of online banking when travelling abroad or payments by credit card number incompletely from many sources…

Goodbyebanks shows the top digital banking apps for people staying abroad for a while such as students or expat workers.

Secure Online Banking

The term “online banking” refers to the processing of banking transactions via PC, laptop or smartphone – in a broader sense, this includes payment by entering one’s credit card number on a website.

Serious online banking always takes place via a “secure Internet connection”:

Unsecure vs. Secure Internet Connection:

Information can be sent on the Internet either easily “listenable” (e.g. normal e-mail!) or “securely encrypted” (e.g. SSL-128 bit).

Filling out sensitive forms (e.g. credit card numbers, password or TAN requests) is done at all reputable financial institutions via secure https connections.

With the appropriate settings, browsers (e.g. Internet Explorer = I.E.) also announce the change to a secure connection and show, for example, a small lock symbol in the lower status bar.

Important: Check The Exact Browser Address!

When using a secure connection, the address line of your browser will show “https://…” instead of the usual “http://…”.

SSL-encrypted bank details are almost impossible to crack, which is why criminals usually try to get your PIN (personal identification number), TANs (transaction numbers) and credit card number by other means, e.g. by :

  • Phishing (= password fishing e.g. through fake bank e-mails or websites)
  • Trojans (= programs which, like the Trojan horse, contain hidden dangers)
  • Keylogger (= programs that spy on entries made via keyboard for the stealer)

Tip Before Reading On:

These are security rules that you should always observe at home when banking over the Internet. No one is more qualified to give online banking security tips than official addresses such as the national Banking Association or the Federal Office for Information Security.

We will discuss further below with solid basic knowledge about online banking security especially when travelling

Some of these security rules for Internet banking cannot (always) be implemented when traveling (see below) – nevertheless, you can already feel much safer now and no longer fall for by far the most successful fraud methods in online banking – like millions before you!

To realize the travel-critical security rules on the road and in Internet cafes:

Security Rules:

– Use latest program versions:
– Make sure that on the computer of the cybercafé all applications except the browser are closed and the virus protection is up to date!
– Refrain from attempting Internet banking if the browser used does not have an encryption strength of at least 128 bits. (Versions: ) At I.E. the window shows its encryption strength via Help -> Info.
– In general, however, you can assume that the operator of the Internet café also wants to protect his computers from security risks and therefore has updated operating systems running.
– “Perform a security check on your PC” – and
– “Activate the security settings of your browser”

Just ask the (seemingly trustworthy!) operator of the Internet café about his security measures or which of his Internet computers you should use for your banking transactions!

You are the customer who might come more often now – and reliable telecommunication is his business.

But even without asking, you can set the security settings of your Internet cafe browser to “high” for your bank visit (at the I.E.: Tools -> Internet Options -> Security), have Java Applets run only on demand and switch off Active-X Controls completely.

Additional Tips For Transferring Money Electronically From An Internet Café:

– Limit the number of virtual bank visits you need to make and the number of transfers you need to make while on the road (change to standing orders, direct debit, etc.) months before departure)
– Always check that you have entered the address of your bank (URL) correctly and in the address line “https://…”. (see above) appears in the address line.
– Remember the normal procedure of an online transfer and be alerted if you notice any irregularities.
– After entering your TAN and executing your transfer, either a “BEN” or the TAN number you have just used will appear. Compare them!
– Some key loggers can be tricked by using the backspace key several times, e.g. when entering the PIN. Unfortunately, using a virtual keyboard does not (any longer) protect you from listening to a keylogger.
Windows’ auto-complete option is also a keylogger, so switch off the automatic storage of passwords when banking online!
– If possible, only visit Internet cafés that you consider trustworthy and whose computers use the operating system (Windows, Apple) that you are familiar with from home.
– Log off properly after each session, so that those who follow you cannot trace your Internet path by using the Page Back button.

Online Banking By PIN/TAN Or iTAN System With Your Bank On The Road:

– Generally speaking, financial transactions via online banking are as secure as keeping your TANs secret, because the TAN number required for a transaction expires immediately after it is used.
By knowing your user name and PIN alone, your online account can be viewed but not looted.
– One advantage of the PIN-TAN system for long-term travellers is that you can give a trusted person at home limited control over your account without any red tape and thus not always be dependent on online banking from Internet cafes.
– More and more banks are currently switching to the so-called iTAN procedure because it is supposed to be more secure: The special feature of the iTAN procedure is that a fixed TAN from the numbered TAN list is required for authentication of a bank transaction. Therefore, you should not forget to note down not only the TANs themselves but also their index numbers for the trip.

At least for travelers, I don’t think the new iTAN procedure is any safer.

Limiting The Risk Of Electronic Money Transfer:

If you want to be on the safe side, you can limit the residual risk of online banking by using the following
– Reducing the credit limit of your online account or credit card.
– Opening a special online account for travel at your bank (which can be replenished from home as needed)
– Opening a purely electronic brokerage account, e.g. with PayPal, as we have done: The PayPal account has no access to our bank account and that it is only fed by sponsors was the most effective risk reduction strategy ever!

What Is The Risk?

Electronic money transfer risk with online banking:

Online banking via bank accounts is quite safe because no cash is spent, but money is only transferred to a different account with a traceable recipient.

The exact liability conditions (e.g. in case of technical errors, negligent TAN theft etc.) vary, you can ask your bank for details.

The same is with all banks:

If you make a typing error while transferring money and therefore transfer too much, you cannot hold your bank responsible for this! (But of course you can still claim back the money you paid too much from the recipient).

credit cardPlastic money risk when paying by credit card over the Internet:

Online transfers via online banking are usually and for reasons of cost limited to national, at most European money transfers.

“Correct” international bills paid directly by credit card is cheaper than transfers and is not riskier:

Credit card payments over the Internet are safer than their reputation, because the obligation to prove that a credit card debit was made correctly lies with the recipient of the funds.

The recipient must actually provide the account-holding bank with the PIN or the signature of the credit card holder as proof of his/her authorization to receive the funds.

However, neither of these is transmitted when paying by credit card over the Internet, so that the credit card holder is in the fortunate position of being able to reclaim from his bank a charge made to the credit card via the Internet. This is even sufficient at first (remotely) verbally!

The bank then has to deal with the unlawful payee of the money debited from the credit card, not you as the holder of the bank card.

Because we don’t imagine this to be very funny from the different foreigners, we have – with the exception of booking a flight with plastic money – been able to do without credit card payments via internet in more than 5 years of world travel.

And in Case of Emergency?

If you notice irregularities in your online account management while on the move, you should contact your bank’s customer advisor quickly.

You should report any unlawful credit card debits or the loss of your credit card as soon as possible using the toll-free international emergency number of your bank card issuer.