Online banking and banking apps are one of a myriad of small ways that our lives have become easier and more convenient thanks to technology. We can manage our bill payments, check our balance, transfer money to friends and family and perform a host of other functions that would previously have required a trip to the branch, all from the comfort of our sofas.
As with many other sectors, throughout the pandemic the banking industry saw a dramatic increase in mobile app usage due to lockdowns preventing customers accessing their banks, and branches implementing covid-safe policies to prevent their customers from coming in unless it was absolutely necessary.
Unfortunately, as more and more of us use online banking and banking apps, scammers have identified it as a way to make money. This means that we need to maintain vigilance to keep our details secure.
Making a mobile banking app secure is a complex task that requires constant maintenance. These apps have to complete a number of sophisticated functions in order to perform on our devices, communicating back to the banks’ servers and data centers while we connect to them through our wifi or mobile data plans. There are a lot of opportunities for things to go wrong, or for hackers to try and infiltrate the systems. Luckily for us, banks invest a huge amount of money and expertise into keeping their platforms secure and we are much more likely to be coerced into revealing our banking details via a phishing scam than to have our banking apps hacked directly.
With that in mind, here are our top tips to keep yourself and your money safe while you use online and mobile banking.
1. Don’t share your details with anyone
One of the key tenets of security is not sharing your passwords or app security details with anyone at all. Even if you feel that you trust them. The associated risks are just too great, and you could be opening yourself up to fraud from a number of angles. If you share your details over text, phone or email, even if the recipient is trustworthy, that information is available on the servers that host your email account or your phone records and could be accessed by hackers or anyone who may be monitoring your device.
2. Inform your bank of any suspicious communications
Scammers often resort to posing as legitimate organizations to try and gain access to your accounts. These sorts of phishing scams can take the form of calls, text messages, emails or alerts on your mobile – often purporting to be a security update or a genuine request for you to confirm your details. Your bank will have clearly set out the ways in which they will contact you and they will not deviate from this. If you have any reservations at all about a communication do not click on any links and contact your bank directly.
3. Make sure you download the right app and only download apps from an official app store
Banks are generally doing a really good job of keeping their apps secure, so instead of trying to break into the app, hackers have resorted to creating a duplicate app in order to steal your data. Always read the reviews and double check you are downloading the legitimate version of your mobile banking app.
There are a large number of these scamming apps present on third party app stores. This is because these third-party marketplaces are not subject to the stringent checks that the official app stores carry out on their vendors. For this reason, you should only download apps that you trust through the official app stores.
4. Keep your device’s operating system up to date
Every time Apple or Android release a new operating system or a new update they include patches to address security vulnerabilities exposed in the older versions. Hackers and scammers are working around the clock, all over the world to exploit these vulnerabilities and gain access to personal data. Keeping the software on your phone up to date is a quick and easy way to help protect yourself from hacking attempts.
5. Think carefully before jailbreaking or rooting your device
Jailbreaking or rooting a mobile device used to be quite popular. Early iPhones and Android phones had far fewer features and there were much less apps available than there are today. This led users to jailbreak or root their devices to allow them to add features, customize their phones and install apps that were available through third party stores or other unregulated sources. While less popular nowadays, some people still choose to Jailbreak or root their devices.
However, Jailbreaking or rooting your phone makes it much more vulnerable to malware and other security threats as you remove some of the manufacturer’s preconfigured lines of defense. While they might seem restrictive to some, these security measures are there for a reason. For example, on iPhones most spyware can only be installed and used on a Jailbroken device.
6. Perform regular malware scans
According to research undertaken by RSA, 70% of online fraud is now accomplished through mobile platforms. Since the goal of most hackers is to steal money, it’s therefore vitally important to ensure your cell phone is free from malware if you use it to access your online banking.
There are many great security apps available for both iPhone and Android that can scan your device for malicious apps and other cyber threats. Make sure you choose one that can perform a full scan of your entire device for the best protection and peace of mind. Check out the award-winning Certo AntiSpy for iPhone or Certo Mobile Security for Android.