Is Mobile Banking Secure Enough for Your Financial Needs?
Today we take convenience and accessibility for granted. It’s not a privilege anymore. Mobile banking is no exception. It has become a popular choice for financial management.
Today, instead of going to a bank branch, we effortlessly check bank account balances, transfer money and even pay bills with just a few taps.
Mobile banking is undeniable progress in the banking sector, but with every change comes new risks. Thus, it begs the question: is mobile banking safe? Are our money and confidential information at risk?
In this article, we aim to give you some perspective and help you understand the security standards and potential risks of mobile banking.
Table of Contents
Is mobile banking safe?
Online and mobile banking has become very popular. However, the trust of many people does not confirm that the method is fully secure.
Yes, the various online banking platforms and banking apps are convenient. Also, cybersecurity experts ensure that mobile banking is secure.
Nevertheless, there is still no technology that clever fraudsters cannot circumvent. Therefore, there are still some risks in online banking.
Are mobile banking apps safe?
Mobile banking apps are quick and easy-to-use tools. They let you access and manage your bank account details. Many people think that banking apps are less secure than online banking. Well, it is not entirely true. There are a lot of security criteria that help ensure a more secure mobile banking experience.
This feature is more common in mobile apps than on online banking sites. Most mobile banking apps ask you to enter your username and password. The bank also requires you to enter a code sent to your mobile phone or email address.
Additional authentication tools
You can set your bank’s app to require something more reliable than a password, e.g., a fingerprint or facial recognition. Biometric logins can be helpful when someone steals your mobile device. In that case, they are harder to bypass than a password.
Resistance to malware and viruses
Finally, a smartphone is more resilient to malware and viruses than any desktop computer. That is because most phones let you download apps only from secure app stores. These major app stores constantly check the applications on the market. Therefore, they help ensure that apps are suitable.
In addition, smartphone apps are isolated from other apps on the phone. This protection makes it harder for fake banking apps to get into legitimate apps.
Remember that your phone is as secure as the network you use. Public Wi-Fi networks are dangerous. You should not use sensitive information, including banking apps if you have connected to such networks.
Hackers cannot access data when you share it over a mobile network. Unfortunately, they can use public Wi-Fi connection to do that.
Therefore, you should turn off the automatic connection to Wi-Fi to stop your phone from connecting to any free Wi-Fi network.
Security risks of the mobile banking app
Banking has become more convenient thanks to online and mobile banking. While face-to-face banking is considered the safest option, the fear of hacking mustn’t deter us from the convenience of these different digital channels.
Fraudsters use various methods to gain access to our financial information. They may try to install malware on our devices. You may also receive fraudulent emails asking for your account details. There are also cases where fraudsters directly hack into our devices and take control of our accounts.
Risks remain the same whether you use a web browser on your computer or a banking app. However, various devices have distinct vulnerabilities, and different apps may require specific skills from potential hackers.
Mobile banking app security shortcomings
Mobile banking is about using a dedicated banking app. This mobile banking app allows you to access your bank accounts. It is different from online banking via a browser.
This difference is crucial. Banks usually have better control over the security of our accounts when we use an app dedicated to them.
The situation is somewhat different with online banking sites. Fraudsters often create phishing websites that mimic a bank login page. However, using a mobile banking app can make it much harder for criminals to commit this type of fraud.
Nevertheless, mobile banking apps do not guarantee complete security. Mobile banking apps transmit data between our devices and the bank’s servers. The app verifies your identity using your unique phone ID and account details.
Unfortunately, scammers use a variety of tactics to attack users.
App-based banking Trojans
App-based banking Trojans hide in unrelated apps. These apps can be games or tools downloaded by unsuspecting customers of some financial institutions. These sideload apps often come from unofficial sources and may contain inactive malware.
When a user launches a legitimate banking app, the Trojan creates a pop-up overlay window. This window mimics a bank login page.
Unsuspecting users enter their login credentials on the fake page. The Trojan then seamlessly redirects them to the login page of the actual banking app.
In addition, you can find this type of malware on the criminal underground market. Criminals can download them in many ways: SMS messages with malicious hyperlinks.
Fake banking apps
Fraudsters create a fraudulent app very similar to a legitimate mobile banking app. The malicious app aims to mislead users into entering their bank login details.
These apps display an error message when they try to log in. These apps use smartphone authorization requests to bypass security codes sent by SMS.
According to US security research organizations, the major app stores detected almost 65 000 fake apps in 2018. It indicates a rapid increase in smartphone fraud in this area.
According to data science company Feedzai, banking online accounted for 93% of all fraud attempts in early 2021.
Unfortunately, Trojans and fake bank apps are not the only methods used by fraudsters.
Here are some more of the security threats and latest scams used by criminals to gain unauthorized access to your mobile banking account:
- Fraudulent SMS messages and phone calls impersonating your bank
- Attempts to scam your banking account by sending emails with fraudulent links.
- Inclusion of keylogging malware in unrelated applications
- Mobile cheque deposit scams.
- Wi-Fi hacking.
Tips for safe online banking
To secure mobile banking accounts and reduce the risk of compromising them, follow these top recommendations:
Use a VPN
It is especially relevant when connecting to public Wi-Fi networks. A VPN hides your IP address and encrypts your sensitive data. This practice makes it harder for hackers to access your information.
Keep devices secure
Protect your devices from direct hacking by setting a PIN or two factors authentication.
Moreover, you should disconnect from apps and websites and avoid saving passwords. If you lose or someone steals your phone, these security features will give you more time to alert your bank.
Use strong passwords
Use strong and unique passwords for your banking accounts. Also, include upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters combinations. Also, avoid using the same password repeatedly.
Check your bank’s security practices
Review your bank’s website to understand its security criteria. Look for indicators such as the padlock icon indicating encryption and the availability of two-factor authentication. If your bank’s security practices do not satisfy you, consider switching to a more secure institution.
Identify scams and phishing
Be wary of fraud attempts and scams. Never share sensitive account information or personal information in response to unsolicited emails, calls, or text messages claiming to be from your bank. Avoid clicking on suspicious links and check the authenticity of messages by contacting your bank directly.
Download verified banking apps
Download the mobile app only from the official and secure store. Avoid third-party apps, stores, and open forums to reduce the risk of downloading fake or malware-infected apps. Update your bank app from the official app store regularly.
Avoid public Wi-Fi
Do not use public Wi-Fi networks when connecting to the mobile app. Instead, use your cellular network or other secure network.
Protect against rooted or jailbroken devices
Avoid rooting or jailbreaking your mobile devices. It makes them more vulnerable to malware and hacking. Choose official software updates and avoid alternative app stores to ensure the security integrity of your device.
Regularly monitor your accounts
Check your account regularly for suspicious activity. Report any unauthorized transactions to your bank immediately.
With these precautions, you can increase mobile banking security and protect your account information.
Is mobile banking safer than internet banking?
Both mobile and online banking services have their security measures. Their level of security can vary depending on several factors.
In general, both mobile and online banking practices are safe if the user follows appropriate security practices. If you want to protect yourself from fraudsters, use secure networks. You should also use official apps available for your mobile devices and choose strong passwords or biometric identifiers.
Bank online security, e.g. encryption and two-factor authentication, helps protect user information and is a top priority for financial institutions.
Ultimately, the security of mobile banking or Internet banking depends on the user’s actions and the bank-added security.
What is the negative of mobile banking?
Negative features of mobile banking can include potential security risks. It can be malware attacks, fraud attempts, and the risk of losing your mobile device.
In addition, mobile banking may have limited features. Moreover, some people might also be worried about the security and privacy of their financial and personal data. To avoid these risks, users should be cautious and take the necessary safety measures when using mobile banking.
How do I stay safe on mobile banking apps?
You must adhere to a few fundamental rules to remain safe.
First, make sure you have downloaded the official bank app. Avoid third-party sources to reduce the risk of downloading malicious software. Moreover, Update your mobile device’s operating system and apps to keep them with the latest security patches.
Also, set strong, unique passwords or consider using biometric authentication options such as fingerprints or facial recognition.
Be careful when connecting to public Wi-Fi. It may not be secure. Therefore, use a safe and private network or VPN for extra protection.
In addition, avoid clicking on suspicious links or replying to unsolicited messages, as these may be attempts to commit fraud. Monitor your account activity regularly and report any suspicious transactions to your bank.