Beyond the basics: New trends in cybersecurity

When it comes to internet safety, most of us are familiar with the basics: updating your operating system and browsers regularly, using strong and varied passwords, maintaining your privacy settings on social media, and not opening attachments or links from strangers.

Beyond those security essentials, you can also use new, more sophisticated techniques to help protect your personal information online and on your mobile device. Learn more about these next-generation trends and how they can help boost your safety and privacy.


You’ve probably seen examples of biometrics in science fiction—for example, the iris scanner or palm print recognition device that can unlock a door. This sort of technology is quickly becoming reality.

Facial recognition software, Touch ID, voice recognition, 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 customers can sign in to their mobile banking app using fingerprint Touch ID. Learn more about Mobile and Online Banking at Bank of America.

Biometrics are gaining steam for two reasons: They are easy to use, and they provide an additional layer of security. Unlike written passwords, which can be used by anyone, biometrics are unique to you by nature: A fingerprint, for example, is difficult to duplicate. Furthermore, in an environment where social media makes more of our private information public, old security questions (“What’s your mother’s maiden name?”) aren’t as secure as they once were.

Two-factor authentication

An increasing number of websites and apps offer another way to make your log-ins more secure: two-factor authentication. Instead of simply asking you to enter your log-in name and password, two-factor authentication requires you to enter another piece of information such as a PIN, a security question or a onetime code.

If the second option is a code, it is often time-sensitive and is more secure when sent to a cell phone. That’s because even if unauthorized users gain access to your primary password, it is considerably more difficult for them to gain access to the second component. A number of popular sites, apps and webmail programs allow you to opt into two-factor authentication.

Keep in mind: If the second 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 onetime authorization code. The Bank of America code, for example, can only be used once and will expire within ten minutes after it is sent.

More complex passwords

As identity theft continues to escalate, a strong password is your first line of defense. For this reason, websites and other digital account providers have upped their password requirements, often requiring stronger passwords that combine numbers, uppercase and lowercase letters, and symbols.

Longer and more complex passwords can be challenging to remember, especially if you use different passwords for different accounts. Still, it’s important to follow a few best practices:

  • Don’t store your password. Saving your information in your browser or your computer’s keychain password management system can leave you vulnerable.
  • Try not to share your password. While this seems simple, a recent survey by LastPass showed 95 percent of Americans shared their passwords; 43 percent shared their passwords for financial information.
  • Do not use the same password for multiple sites. For example, make sure you don’t use the same password for your online banking account and for an e-commerce site.
  • Log out of password-protected sites. You should also exit the browser when you are done.

Keep in mind: 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 log-in. Another option for keeping track of passwords is an online password manager. While convenient, online password manager websites can be compromised just like any other. So if you go this route, choose a well-reviewed password manager, change your master password often, and keep an eye on reported security breaches.

Secure browsing experiences

More sites are using HTTPS encryption to help protect your privacy and security. When you visit websites without the S in the 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, major websites increasingly offer HTTPS versions of their websites, and Google uses HTTPS availability to rank pages higher in searches. Be sure to check whether a site is secure before sharing personal or financial information.

Try to keep up with the latest trends in cybersecurity, while always practicing computer and mobile safety basics. It could go a long way toward keeping your personal information and finances safe and secure.

Close Disclaimer
The material provided on this website is for informational use only and is not intended for financial or investment advice. Bank of America and/or its affiliates, and Khan Academy, assume no liability for any loss or damage resulting from one’s reliance on the material provided. Please also note that such material is not updated regularly and that some of the information may not therefore be current. Consult with your own financial professional when making decisions regarding your financial or investment options.

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