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Dedicated computer for online banking
Old 02-13-2013, 05:11 PM   #1
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Dedicated computer for online banking

Apologies if this has been covered but I only stop by this site periodically.

I want to buy an inexpensive computer that will not be used for anything excerpt banking and dealing with my brokerage account. Would a cheap tablet work? Would a netbook be better for this.

Since there won't be much required of it (it doesn't need a powerful processor or much memory, etc) I'd like to keep the purchase as inexpensive as possible.

Thanks for your suggestions,

Bob
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Old 02-13-2013, 05:17 PM   #2
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I'd probably buy he cheapest tablet you could find or perhaps find a bank or other financial institution that is giing them away in return for a new account opening.
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Old 02-13-2013, 05:24 PM   #3
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Some financial institutions restrict activities that you can perform on tablets (like Bank of America doesn't allow you to set up new account transfers on an iPad, but you can on a computer.) Therefore, I would recommend a laptop computer, either used, or a netbook. Not sure about restricted functionality on tablets that aren't iPads...
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Old 02-13-2013, 05:24 PM   #4
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Not such a bad idea. Re-purpose or buy an old laptop, wipe the drive and put Linux on it. That's probably the most secure OS to use, and there are many 'light' versions that get by fine on low-end hardware.

To make this as easy as possible, check the Linix forums to see if the hardware you are thinking about works well with that linux. Most probably does, but some HW is better supported than others.


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Old 02-13-2013, 05:30 PM   #5
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I've purchased working, old computer equipment at thrift stores for $10. You have to know how to properly wipe the drive so there's no spyware left on it that might peek at your activity.
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Old 02-13-2013, 05:35 PM   #6
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I understand what you're trying to do, but I'm not sure you would get what you want.

If you put all your banking and brokerage stuff on the machine, keeping your other computer for "other" stuff, what have you really accomplished? If someone hacks into your "financial machine" then they could have access to all your critical information.

Far better, IMHO, would be to stick with your existing machine and invest a few bucks and a little time to set up a really good password manager like 1Password, and establish strong, unique passwords for every account.
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Old 02-13-2013, 05:42 PM   #7
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I understand what you're trying to do, but I'm not sure you would get what you want.

If you put all your banking and brokerage stuff on the machine, keeping your other computer for "other" stuff, what have you really accomplished? If someone hacks into your "financial machine" then they could have access to all your critical information.

Far better, IMHO, would be to stick with your existing machine and invest a few bucks and a little time to set up a really good password manager like 1Password, and establish strong, unique passwords for every account.
+1, particularly the strong, unique passwords for every account.
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Old 02-13-2013, 05:48 PM   #8
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I was thinking about this, but from the other direction: I would suggest the opposite: a cheap travel computer for going out and about, so you can keep the nice banking one at home. It bothers me to take a computer on a trip that has banking and tax stuff on it.
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Old 02-13-2013, 05:55 PM   #9
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Another way is to put linux on a USB stick. Whenever you want do your banking, just boot up from the USB stick. I carried one these setups around when traveling, I could use on any PC knowing it was clean. You can also make a boot windows stick as well.
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Old 02-13-2013, 05:58 PM   #10
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Another way is to put linux on a USB stick. Whenever you want do your banking, just boot up from the USB stick. I carried one these setups around when traveling, I could use on any PC knowing it was clean. You can also make a boot windows stick as well.
Interesting idea - I take it that you don't keep you confidential data on the USB but just the Linux OS?
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Old 02-13-2013, 06:04 PM   #11
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Interesting idea - I take it that you don't keep you confidential data on the USB but just the Linux OS?
No this was just a traveling OS, I could boot any PC and connect to a web site. Or I could login to a PC at home via logmein. I also had one setup with debugging /repair tools to fix PCs.
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Old 02-13-2013, 06:04 PM   #12
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Check out a Google Chromebook.
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Old 02-13-2013, 06:36 PM   #13
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Another way is to put linux on a USB stick. Whenever you want do your banking, just boot up from the USB stick. I carried one these setups around when traveling, I could use on any PC knowing it was clean. You can also make a boot windows stick as well.
Yes, even better idea than separate HW for Linux.

IIRC (it's been a while, but I have a USB stick that I used for installing linux, and I would boot from it), it took some time to boot (a few minutes?), but otherwise ran fine. I had a 'persistent' version, so it would sstore changes, and you could store data to it if you wanted.

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Old 02-13-2013, 06:43 PM   #14
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Apologies if this has been covered but I only stop by this site periodically.

I want to buy an inexpensive computer that will not be used for anything excerpt banking and dealing with my brokerage account. Would a cheap tablet work? Would a netbook be better for this.

Since there won't be much required of it (it doesn't need a powerful processor or much memory, etc) I'd like to keep the purchase as inexpensive as possible.

Thanks for your suggestions,

Bob
If you're looking for an inexpensive decent quality laptop - you might try a Lenovo Ideapad - start at around +/- $250.00 at their outlet center for a scratch and dent special. I purchased a like-new Ideapad S205S recently there for $228.00 (checked before replying and they're all but gone, but others are available). It's hit or miss with availability, but they are totally refurbished and guaranteed for a year by Lenovo.

Lenovo Outlet | Lenovo | (US)

I understand your security concern, but my approach is to access banking and investments on our computer using secured access only (AT&T at home, or via a VPN service when away). You should always be in HTTPS: secure encrypted access when accessing financial sites. Computer is secured with AVG Free and IOBit Malware fighter (free) - along with windows standard fare (defender, etc). Shut off all sharing for security. Use Firefox browser only in private browsing mode, with padlock add-on to show you're secure when accessing.

I don't store any passwords on our computer, and Firefox is set to wipe all data (including passwords) when closed. Also use CCleaner to wipe data history upon Firefox close. I don't store any financial, or any other personal information on our computer (theft/hack concern). Personal/financial info stored on a thumb/jump drive, and backed up on a disk drive 2X/year. Passwords stored on separate thumb/jump drive. Also have Glary utilities which has a file shredder program for destroying downloaded files (DOD shredding) after moving to the jump drive from the desktop. Know you can't stop all issues with accessing websites, but feel these steps go a long way towards erasing my tracks and securing financial/personal information. FYI - I use Zimbra desktop to access email instead of going online.
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Old 02-13-2013, 07:12 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Synergy View Post
Apologies if this has been covered but I only stop by this site periodically.

I want to buy an inexpensive computer that will not be used for anything excerpt banking and dealing with my brokerage account. Would a cheap tablet work? Would a netbook be better for this.

Since there won't be much required of it (it doesn't need a powerful processor or much memory, etc) I'd like to keep the purchase as inexpensive as possible.

Thanks for your suggestions,

Bob
What is it exactly that you are trying to protect? Presumably it is the passwords to your financial accounts since your financial records have no value to a hacker. While you should certainly adopt all the best practices for managing your passwords on your computer or not, most of the hacking risk is not to your computer, but to the computers of the financial companies where you have accounts. I have read an unconfirmed estimate that 97% of hacking episodes originate on the company's computer, not the individual's.

That being the case the single most effective tactic, in addition to following best practices for your passwords, is to spread your assets among more than one institution. Keep in mind that the brokerage's commitment to making you whole after such an attack is a lot less ironclad than that of the credit card companies.
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Old 02-13-2013, 09:54 PM   #16
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If you put all your banking and brokerage stuff on the machine, keeping your other computer for "other" stuff, what have you really accomplished? If someone hacks into your "financial machine" then they could have access to all your critical information.
I always thought the main reason for doing this is to decrease/eliminate the chance of getting malware on your computer by either visiting websites/downloading software/opening attachments etc. If the computer is solely for banking, you won't be doing any of these other higher risk activities.
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Old 02-13-2013, 10:20 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Synergy View Post
Apologies if this has been covered but I only stop by this site periodically.

I want to buy an inexpensive computer that will not be used for anything excerpt banking and dealing with my brokerage account. Would a cheap tablet work? Would a netbook be better for this.

Since there won't be much required of it (it doesn't need a powerful processor or much memory, etc) I'd like to keep the purchase as inexpensive as possible.

Thanks for your suggestions,

Bob


Bob,
I've been doing this for years with a separate laptop for a little extra security. Nothing is perfect in IT security but to me this makes sense.

I take special care to keep this PCís operating system (OS) updated (patched), keep the browser up to date (I prefer Firefox) keep the virus scanner up to date and run a full manual scan monthly. Iíve setup a regular user account and I try not to log on in the administrator mode unless it's absolutely necessary. Also I ďtypicallyĒ keep this machine off line unless Iím getting systems/program updates or using it to access my banking/brokers.

There are endless other things you can do for more security, (some of which I do) and a few of which have already been mentioned in this thread.

By the way, if I were going to use a previously used machine for this purpose, Iíd be sure to start off by doing a full disk wipe with a good disk wiping program and then reload it with a known set of clean OS disk.
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Old 02-14-2013, 08:59 AM   #18
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Thanks everyone for all of your great suggestions!

Bob
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Old 02-14-2013, 11:26 AM   #19
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Another idea might be to install Kaspersky Internet Security 2013 on your computer and use it for everything. This software has a "Safe Money feature that opens designated online banking or payment sites in a protected browser window ".

Below is a review and there are others if you need more info.

Kaspersky Internet Security 2013 review | Expert Reviews
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Old 02-14-2013, 11:59 AM   #20
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Check out a Google Chromebook.
I hear this are extremely secure and need no virus protection as everything is done through google and the net with no operating programs on the laptop. It is literally wiped clean every time you turn it off. You can get a google chrome book for as little as $199. I am going to get one soon to replace my aging compaq and the slothful Vista that is on it.
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