You work hard for your money, so it is critical that you make sure that you are using desktop or mobile banking apps that protect your data.
Interest in fintech applications and online banking is growing with more and more people visiting traditional banks to access their bank accounts.
This made people question the security of banking apps. To answer this question, you must know if the app you download is selling your data. While you may download apps to your computer, you are most likely using them on your mobile device. Mobile banking is convenient and widespread now.
In today’s digital economic environment, understanding data privacy policies and awareness of potential threats is essential to protect consumer information and keep it out of the wrong hands. Could a mobile banking app that has made your life easier, come with a risk? It’s really up to you to understand as much information about online security as possible.
Are banking apps safe?
More people are using mobile banking than ever before, even if it’s just to check the balance. More than 75% of Americans use a mobile device to see how much they have in their bank accounts. This has a lot to do with social distancing due to the pandemic and the ease of banking on the go, but it also has a lot to do with the rapid development of fintech applications that can conduct a number of financial transactions.
In fact, according to recent surveys, 50% of Gen Z adults start investing before the age of 25 due to the increased availability of investment apps. Then there is the entire fleet of cryptocurrency trading apps as well.
Cyber security experts agree that mobile banking is convenient and secure, but consumers need to take precautions. You might not think that someone could be spying on your mobile banking, but potential security holes can occur in the encryption and encryption methods used by popular fintech companies. It is also possible that network weaknesses, such as your WiFi connection, can leave your device open for others to exploit.
While identity theft is on the rise, that’s not all you have to worry about. Most of the time when apps sell your data to third parties, the information is used to modify their marketing algorithms and understand more about their audience, especially their mobile banking habits.
Most apps track your data
What you need to know is that 80% of apps track and store your data for a variety of reasons. If this personal information is transferred to a fraudster, you could be abused or risk a security breach.
In fact, according to recent research by Freshbooks, one in 10 adults in the United States fell victim to COVID scams last year, at a collective cost of $670 million.
COVID scams are becoming a much bigger threat due to the fact that they can appear realistic (especially phishing emails), with the use of urgent language and fear tactics. Most of them will also eventually ask you to either share your banking information or financial details, or if they are opened, they will run malware that will compromise your financial security on your device. Some of these scams have been linked to stimulus money provided by the government to offset job losses and other financial hardships due to the pandemic.
Needless to say, ensuring that your favorite mobile banking app is kept secure against hackers is crucial. Let’s discuss how to achieve this.
6 Ways to Ensure the Security of Online and Mobile Banking
1. Download only approved banking apps
Many banks and fintech companies are very proud of their apps, so they often tell you everything you need to know about their apps on their websites. If they don’t provide information up front and simply tell you to download their app – beware. It can be fake and one of the biggest threats on the internet, financially.
The real fintech app will contain detailed information about its features, required operating systems and whether or not your money is FDIC insured. Make sure to use a trusted app store and never download an app you found on an open forum or from a text message.
2. Use two-factor or multi-factor authentication
Using two-factor authentication or multi-factor authentication can help keep your funds safe in the event that your login information falls into the wrong hands. These authentications require more than just a username and password and help the company as you deal with cybersecurity issues.
You will also have to confirm your identity according to the settings you specify, usually in the form of a text message sent to your phone with a one-time code that has an expiration date. If your banking app doesn’t offer at least two-factor authentication to protect sensitive information, you should reconsider.
3. Actually, use a strong password
It’s annoying to have what looks like millions of premium logins for a variety of accounts. But having a strong password prevents fraudulent activity. To take it a step further, don’t ask your browser to save your passwords for you. Instead, use a password manager that keeps your passwords safe through encryption.
4. Avoid public WiFi when possible
If you receive a warning that the network you are using is not a secure network, you should be concerned that others may be able to view your online actions – including discovering personal details that can be used to access your social media, email and fintech apps.
Using public WiFi is convenient, however, you should not use it to check your bank account or conduct other financial business if you can avoid it. Mobile banking is our way of life, but don’t risk security.
5. Set up alerts or push notifications
Many apps will ask users if they want to allow notifications for different types of activity on accounts. If you receive a lot of payments or make many purchases, all these notifications may seem to clog your inbox, but these notifications can play an important role in detecting potential fraudulent activity on your accounts.
For example, if you get a notification to use your card to make a purchase while you’re at home on the sofa, you know someone has your banking information and you can process it with your bank as quickly as possible.
6. Pay attention to other apps you download
Even if your banking app is associated with a reputable bank and you take every precaution to keep your personal data safe, your money can still be at risk. There are some malware that can be hidden in the app code that has absolutely nothing to do with banking.
These sideloading apps downloaded from unofficial sources may be carrying malware that is hiding in the background on your device and waiting for you to open a banking app. The malware then creates a fake overlay that simulates the login page of the app where it then steals the usernames and password after they are entered. So be aware of the different landing screens your banking app uses so that you can spot a potential fake and avoid this type of attack.
It’s also a good idea to make sure you have a valid insurance policy to help cover your assets in the event your information becomes compromised and you fall victim to fraud. While it is another expense, it can help you recover in time from a major financial loss
Across all generations, people change the way they interact with their banks. Online banking started years ago, but the use of banking apps has accelerated since March 2020, the start of lockdowns and social distancing due to the pandemic.
Instead of going to the bank to deposit, open accounts or make payments, people are using fintech apps that have the technology that puts the bank at their fingertips. Although there are some risks involved in downloading free apps and software, mobile banking and fintech apps are generally safe, as long as you make sure they are from a reputable source.
However, there are malicious people who are willing to pay for your information to carry out subsequent scams. For stress-free banking, keep these tips in mind the next time you go download a fintech app to make sure you know who you share most of your private information with.
Kiara Taylor, a New York contributor, specializes in financial literacy and fintech topics. She is a corporate financial analyst and also leads a University of Cincinnati group that teaches financial literacy to black students and helps them secure employment and internships.