VPN for online banking: is it really safe?

Emily Green

September 9, 2021

Your bank is probably doing everything it can to keep your money safe. However, stolen identities and banking fraud are still a very real concern.

Laptop showing the NordVPN icon and the message "You are connected"

One of the best ways to take charge of your security and protect yourself is with a Virtual Private Network (VPN). But is it really safe to use a VPN for online transactions?

How can a VPN protect you?

A VPN is a great tool that allows you to access the internet safely and securely. It encrypts your sensitive data before it even leaves your device and connects to the web. This means that no one can see your traffic – neither snoopers nor your Internet Service Provider.

Your data then goes to a VPN server, where it changes your IP address and your apparent location (if desired). This new information goes to your online destination (in this case, your bank’s website) and back. As a result, the receiver of your data will not be able to see where the data originally came from. So is a VPN safe for online banking? Absolutely.

When to use a VPN for online banking

  • If you deal with online transactions and handle sensitive data. Whether it’s your hard-earned money, your employees’ salaries, or your clients’ payments, a compromised bank account could be a disaster. Without a VPN, your transactions, along with sensitive information like names and bank details, can be accessed by hackers and used to steal your money or your identity.

    If you use a VPN, however, your traffic will be encrypted, keeping your transactions safe and secure from prying eyes. Some VPN providers, like NordVPN, also have strict no-logs policies, meaning that your data, online activity, and browsing history are safe. They will never be monitored or saved and will never be shared with third parties.

  • You use public Wi-Fi. Connecting to public Wi-Fi, whether while traveling or enjoying a cup of coffee in your local cafe, is risky, especially if the network has no password. Hackers can easily use open networks to hack into your device. Some hackers even create free impostor Wi-Fi networks in public places. It might look like free airport Wi-Fi, but it will actually be a fake network – a hacker’s gateway to your device.

    If you find yourself using public Wi-Fi for your online banking needs, make sure you use a VPN. It will hide your location and your IP address, which means that any snoopers connected on the same network will not be able to find you, let alone hack into your device.

  • You use mobile apps to access your online banking. Even though mobile devices are more difficult to crack than computers, they can still be targeted. If you use mobile banking apps or transfer funds on the go, you should install VPN on your mobile, too. NordVPN allows you to use the same account on up to six devices so you can rest assured that your connection is safe on whichever device you use.

When using a VPN won’t help you

  • If you are using a free VPN. We don’t recommend using a free VPN. If a service is free, it will probably be stuffed with ads that will record your behavior, store that data, and be sold to third parties.

    In addition to this, free VPNs usually have low-cost infrastructure. They are not designed to support all VPN functionalities and are much more susceptible to IP leaks. If you're using a VPN to protect yourself from hackers, that’s the last thing you want.

    Free VPNs also serve a lot of customers, which means that server loading times will be much higher and your internet speed will be lower.

  • If you are using a VPN and keep changing your locations when accessing your bank accounts. There’s a reason why banks ask you to notify them if you leave the country. If they see someone logging into your account or transferring money in any country other than the one you reside in, it will raise suspicion. If the location of your billing address and your IP location won’t match, your bank might identify it as fraud and block your card or void any online purchases. If you are using a VPN for online banking, connect to your home country.

  • If you use a VPN and visit untrusted websites. If you are visiting suspicious websites (especially ones that have HTTP in their URL instead of HTTPS) it’s very likely that they are already infected with malware that could easily compromise your device. Such websites are not secure and can easily expose your data to hackers.

  • If you don’t practice good internet behavior. A VPN is safe for online banking, but you shouldn’t forget to take other precautionary measures too. If you don’t have an up-to-date antivirus, your operating system is old, or you ignore antivirus alerts, then you will still be at risk of being hacked.

  • If you use weak passwords and your data leaks. In 2018, many companies accidentally leaked user data. Such information can easily land in the hands of a hacker, and if you used a weak password (even worse if you used it for all of your accounts), then the hacker will be able to access your bank account without even breaking into your computer.

Is online banking safe without a VPN?

If you use a VPN, your data traffic is additionally encrypted, which keeps your transaction safe from prying eyes. If you're looking for the best VPN for banking, just follow the tips in this article and on our blog to keep hackers from stealing your information.

Read the original blog post on NordVPN.