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Security keys, VPN’s, Password managers etc

I’m getting blue in the face trying to step up my online security. I’ll be solo in Europe for over 2 months and will need to access my online banking. I’d like to keep it simple. Haha. One bank said don’t do 2FA (2 factor authorization) because it’s not possible because getting a text or email isn’t always available. What about a YubiKey? It does 2FA all “on its own” or would that get mucked up? So there’s the vpn, password manager, security key or just put extra cash in my accounts to cover incoming charges? I want to use contactless payment, hence the charges. If anyone can teleport me back to the 70’s when I threw a backpack on with no devices, I’d appreciate it.

Posted by
2501 posts

The safest route is not to access your bank account at all - set up regular deposits so you always have sufficient funds available.

Depends which form of 2FA (or multi-factor) your bank uses. I access my bank on my phone via biometric authentication - fingerprint or face.

Posted by
2287 posts

I access my bank on my phone via biometric authentication - fingerprint or face.

Which has zero to do with 2FA purchases and sometimes even sign-ins
Not having account access for 2 months is not practical, you'll have to come up with something that is. Luckily for me my bank uses Push Notifications which uses the data side.

Posted by
2323 posts

I have a Google Fi number I use specifically for travel. I set my online bank phone number to that number while I'm traveling. I also have a Google VPN that is supposed to work on my phone but I've not tested it overseas. Generally I just make sure my accounts have plenty of funds to keep going while I'm gone, but haven't been gone as long as you are planning. FWIW/massive grain of salt, my former employer (a government entity) uses YubiKey for remote workers who do not have a phone that can do 2FA.

Posted by
7511 posts

One bank said don’t do 2FA (2 factor authorization) because it’s not possible because getting a text or email isn’t always available.

Why? That would be my question. I always receive the option to get a text or email, no different when I am in Europe. Maybe they think you will not have cell service or data where you can receive texts or emails, but that is up to you. For access to your account, you will have wifi or connection anyway.

VPNs and third party apps will not allow easier access to your account, just provide added security when doing so.

The element that is missing though in your plan is a decent credit card. (or maybe that is what you mean by online banking). For that, to access your account infrequently to pay the balance, that can be done through 2FA. If you are talking about 2FA for each contactless purchase, that may not be offered by most cards (in the US), and not sure if it would be required for a contactless purchase. If you want a more secure contactless purchase, use your phone and Apple or Google Pay if you have that capability.

Posted by
312 posts

I'm with Paul here - why does the bank think you can't get an email or text? I do online banking via my bank's app on my phone, which uses face id for access and a texted security code if I haven't logged in for a while. Can't say I have done any banking while out of the country, but can't imagine it would be any different? Unlike many on this forum, I just use an international cell plan while traveling so my number is the same (the expense - to me - is worth not having the hassle of esims and different numbers, etc. and I consider it a baked-in travel expense).

Posted by
32699 posts

when I'm travelling I never use the web based bank access - all of my banks except one has a good app, or they wouldn't be my bank, and the one that doesn't is just a pot for money so needs no access. A good app is on my list for using a bank. We don't have cheques and everything is bank transfer.

Chase uses a tap in the app for authorizations.

Do you have access to such a bank?

Apple wallet is great for keeping track of contactless. My wife have Google wallet which I don't like as much.

Posted by
14939 posts

I travel for months at a time so I need to access banks/investment accounts/government websites, etc. I pay unexpected bills, move cash from one account to another, check my charges, and make investment changes.

Most of my monthly bills are on automatic payment. I just have to make sure my checking account has enough money in it to cover the bills.

As Nigel pointed out, most apps are more secure than a website. (If you do use a website, make sure the web address starts "https." The extra S makes is more secure but I still prefer the app.)

I also use a VPN that shows a US IP address.

I've never had a problem getting a text for two factor authorization. (If you can get texts you can get one of these.)

If you don't use your home phone number for texting, and buy a European SIM, you will have to change that number in your bank contact information.

I've never had a problem with any of this.

Posted by
35 posts

Thanks for all the great responses. The only thing I didn’t get is a Yubikey. Lack of internet connection is the reason they gave for not using 2fa authentication, and I’m finding that valid, at times. I use Touch ID on several accounts. I’m using the bank’s app and receive immediate emails (if there’s internet:) on all transactions. I check my account periodically, too. I arranged for a monthly automatic deposit to cover my one large monthly payment, just to be 100% sure, not really necessary. I have an automatic payment for the entire travel credit card balance each month, as well. 3 weeks in and things are working nicely. Technology — a blessing and a curse🤗