Is it Safe to Bank by Phone?

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Learn to do your banking safely and securely, right on your smartphone.

It can be difficult to trust something without a face. With our digital age looming over every aspect of our life, sometimes we wonder if this technology is making our lives easier or if there’s much more to the story that we don’t know. More and more, it seems like we don’t have much of a choice, but how much trust do you put into your smart phone - especially when it’s in charge of your finances?

In recent days, there have been multiple news stories entering the forefront of our consciousness focused on how banks have had their cyber security compromised. After the fallout, there’s the inevitable PR scramble, but who’s really left to pick up the pieces if a banking app, network, or online system gets hacked?  It’s the customers that pay the price. 

Has Anything Changed to Make Mobile Banking More Secure

Although a few bank institutions and multiple large corporations (like Target, Marriott, Home Depot and eBay have been guilty of in recent years) have experienced security breaches recently, mobile banking, contrary to popular belief, is actually a verifiably safe way to bank. 

According to Kyle Marchini, a senior analyst in fraud management at Javelin Strategy & Research, a research-based advisory firm, bank apps downloaded from an official online app store are comparatively safer than logging in via computer. It’s easier for hackers to install identity-grabbing programs on unsecured webpages than it is to create an app with malicious software. 

This is because online app stores like iTunes regulate and inspect the apps they carry, and it’s much more challenging for fraudsters to sneak an app on a platform that is so heavily regulated. Webpages, on the other hand, are more prone to attacks like malware keylogger programs installed in secrecy, behind the scenes. Banks and their official apps make the mobile process simpler, even for the tech-inept. With their one-click downloads, users know they’re on track for using the right app for their mobile banking.

For most banks and their official mobile banking apps, there is a multi-factor authentication, which inherently makes the smart phone banking experience more secure than that of a website. With Apple’s new facial recognition technology, security has become increasingly advanced with newer iPhones. The best mobile apps don’t store any data, and there’s a correlation to be noticed about how you don’t hear of a smartphone getting a virus. Apps are simply better protected than websites.

Being Smart for Safer Mobile Banking

Safe mobile banking boils down to practicing caution when you can. You don’t have to be paranoid when using your smart phone to access your finances, but you can outsmart hackers by following a few safety tips. 

One recommendation is to avoid logging onto your bank account with public Wi-Fi. Using public Wi-Fi for personal banking is a big no-no because you don’t know who else has access to this network - with it being public it could be anyone. Public Wi-Fi allows for anyone with cyber security know-how to view the data you send, but this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t access your finances at all when you’re out and about - otherwise, what’s the point? 

Instead, use your cellular network. It’s much more private and secure and will grant you superior online banking security. So, go ahead and check your balance when in line at the grocery store, or transfer funds while you’re waiting around at the airport. Just be sure to avoid connecting to any unsecured public Wi-Fi. 

Although it may be common sense to some people, the same goes for not logging onto a public computer for your mobile banking needs. You also won’t want to use a jailbroken smart phone or any smart phone with a modified operating system to do your banking because their security is no longer in place - intentionally so. Jailbroken phones move around the regulations of the in-place operating systems to download unapproved, third-party apps, which in turn could contain malware. Subsequently, these apps could very well be spying on your mobile activity, and while this all seems like a no-brainer to avoid using these jailbroken phones for banking, it occurs enough to be worthy of a mention.

For mobile banking, you can take security into your own hands. Being proactive about your protection doesn’t require much effort because smart phones these days have the features waiting for you. It’s just a matter in ensuring you are utilizing them. Always make sure your smart phone has a passcode lock because if the phone is stolen or goes missing, you won’t have to worry about your data being breached.

If your mobile banking app does have the option for a two-factor verification, you will want to activate it. Doing things the quick and easy way will get the best of us. and disabling these important security features could mean opening ourselves up as vulnerable targets for identity theft. Although we want mobile banking to be as efficient and instant as possible, taking in these security measures will protect ourselves long term. 

Hackers are becoming increasingly clever in their efforts to snag your intimate and personal information. Phishing schemes are more prevalent these days, and you probably have seen these scams appear in your email. They’re emails that look like they are coming from a reputable sender, like your bank, but the link included in the body of the email is a malicious link, one that if clicked will worm its way in your system to snatch personal information. 

Google is already aware of these attempts and has upped spam filters and security measures to help weed out these emails. For its users, Google has even created a phishing quiz. Users can take the quiz to see if they are able to detect false emails, which can train people to better protect themselves against phishing scams.

Aside from being watchful over your emails and practicing the skills you need to identify a trusted sender from a fake one, you can take further precautions with easy actions like keeping your smart phone and its apps updated. Developers are constantly working on their apps to enhance security protocol, work out kinks, and eliminate bugs. Keep your banking app up to date so you can enjoy the full protection the app offers.

Staying Vigilant with Your Technology

Sure, technology has its advantages and its weaknesses, as made evident by the very public downfalls of industry and banking giants who have experienced data breaches these last few years. However, as the faults are recognized, technology like mobile banking apps are made more secure. It’s a learning experience, and we’re only now getting the hang of it.

Mobile banking apps are just as secure as regular online banking, and for some security experts, the method is arguably more secure. Apps are tighter in their construction, being carefully watched over and regulated by official app stores. Developers are consistently updating them for better security. Websites don’t have this luxury. 

Mobile banking is the way of the future, and while there are some justified concerns, there’s no stopping this train to a tech-centered world.