These days you don’t even need to be at a computer to manage your accounts and banking, you can do it through your smartphone.
Banking applications allow you to pay bills, transfer money and keep an eye on your finances. But are they safe?
Is Mobile Banking Safe?
That really depends on the application. Most internet banking providers invest heavily in the security of their mobile applications.
These apps often have limitations on the amount of money they can transfer to minimise the risks.
Alternatively, they might require a code from a token or card reader to authorise larger transactions.
Often, doing your banking through your smartphone may be more secure than on a standard computer but there are some exceptions.
- The most important thing is to make sure you use the official application for your bank and that you keep it updated.
- Check that your bank’s mobile app has been validated for its security. Firstly, you should look on the bank’s website for their own published statement on how they have validated the security of their app.
If you can’t find anything there, look for views from other customers that have used the app. One way to do this is to put the bank’s name and ‘mobile app’ in an internet search engine such as Google to see what views there are of the app
Why mobile applications are safer?
As long as they’re using encrypted Wi-Fi or a cellular data connection, mobile customers usually don’t need to worry about malware hijacking their online-banking sessions. (Mobile banking Trojans do exist, but so far they only assist their desktop variants by stealing two-factor login authentication codes.)
“No online banking is completely safe, period,” said Clay Calvert, director of cybersecurity for MetroStar Systems, an IT consulting firm in Reston, Va. “However, unrooted tablets and cellphones are much safer than using PCs for banking.”
“The primary reason for this,” Calvert said, “is that applications are vetted [by Apple and Google] before they’re sent to the app store and made available for download.
“Apple and Google specifically look for malicious behavior built into apps that are submitted by developers,” he said, “and will reject anything that presents potential security risks.”
Greg Hughes, an information-security officer with Brookfield, Wis.-based financial-technology provider Fiserv, agreed with Calvert.
“Within the last year,” Hughes said, “Google has made changes to improve the way it scans and reviews apps that are submitted and distributed through its Google Play app store, and has enhanced the criteria under which they will release apps from a security configuration perspective.”
However, non-rooted Android devices can still be put in danger. Users who seek free or discounted apps from sources other than the official Google Play store run the risk of being infected by corrupted apps, which are easy to create.
To avoid this, go into the Settings menu, select Security and make sure “Unknown sources” is left unchecked.
Tips for Safe Mobile Banking:
- Never leave your device unlocked
- Log out of the application when you’re not using it
- Keep the apps on your phone regularly updated
- Try not to use unsecured wi-fi networks for banking, purchases or checking your emails.
- Encrypt your phone
- Check the security settings in your device to ensure maximum protection.
- Avoid public Wi-Fi, if possible
- Use secure, encrypted websites for transactions on your mobile phone
- Don’t click through to websites from emails, even if they look like they are from your bank. Always visit your bank’s website by typing in the domain, or bookmark it.