WASHINGTON — When it comes to the recommended steps bank customers are encouraged to follow to protect their online data, how much is too much? Sometimes the line between prudent security and excessive caution is a blurry one.

According to the mock news website The Onion, appropriate steps should include, say, throwing your computer into the ocean after using a bank's online service, casting a smartphone or tablet into a deep canyon after each online session and setting the public building where you have just used a WiFi hotspot on fire.

The Onion featured a fake opinion piece from Karen Seubert, a fictional privacy and security expert at Chase Bank, with instructions that, yeah, probably would protect your information.

"Chase is committed to making your banking experience enjoyable, trouble-free, and, above all, safe. Which is why you should strike your computer with 20 to 25 forceful blows from a pipe wrench as soon as you reach international waters, toss the plastic and metal shards into the sea, and then immediately sink the ship you're on. And then, once you dive to the sea floor, grab the scattered computer pieces, and shove them all inside living clams, you'll be able to rest easy knowing you're banking smarter and safer," according to the piece.

Meanwhile, the process for safely banking with a phone or tablet does not end with finding "the nearest canyon and" throwing "your device in that canyon."

"We then recommend simply scaling down the cliff face, locating the shattered remnants of your device, and spending the next few weeks traversing the country burying each individual piece in separate holes of varying depths several hundred miles apart," Seubert wrote, according to the article.

The bank said even though entering one's password on a public network should generally be avoided, there are still ways to protect one's account information after using a WiFi hotspot. "For one, disconnect from the hotspot as soon as you finish your session. Two, go into your browser's settings and click 'Delete Cookies.' Three, rip all the wiring from the establishment's walls and ceilings. Four, douse the premises in gasoline or acetone and set it on fire. And five, immediately reset your password upon returning to a secure network. That's it!"

Suebert warned users that the basic security steps they may be familiar with are not sufficient. "Maintaining the security of your personal data requires effort and constant vigilance, and at times, you may be tempted to just shut down your computer and drag it behind your car for several miles by a length of rope. But in this day and age, that's simply no longer enough to ensure your private information remains just that — private."

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