Is mobile banking safe? 5 major security risks in 2024
October 20, 2023 6 min read
Mobile banking is generally a safe and convenient way to manage your funds, but there are some cybersecurity risks to be aware of. Those who ask, “Is mobile banking safe?” might wonder how vulnerable banking apps are to various online threats. Here, we’ll review five major mobile banking risks and how services like Norton 360 Deluxe can help reduce their severity.
How safe are mobile banking apps vs. other banking methods?
If you use an app on your phone to deposit checks and track your spending, you might wonder, "Is mobile banking safe?" Mobile banking apps are generally secure and convenient alternatives to other banking methods.
Most banking apps offer a bevy of features meant to protect your sensitive information and identity that traditional banking websites might not. Some of these cybersecurity measures include:
Encryption: Most mobile banking apps encrypt, aka disguise, sensitive data like login information and bank statements.
Frequent software updates: Mobile banking apps regularly receive support from developers that fix glitches and address vulnerabilities.
Biometric authentication: Many smartphones and tablets let users log into banking apps with features like Touch ID and Face ID.
Risks of mobile banking
It’s difficult to find software or technology that is entirely risk-free, and that holds true for mobile banking apps. The 2021 Nokia Threat Intelligence Report indicated that 50% of banking malware is targeted toward Android users, because Androids run on a fully open-source operating system. Cyberattacks triggered by hackers, unexpected glitches, and user mistakes can all undermine an app’s security. Here are some of the more common mobile banking app security issues to be aware of.
Hackers may abuse unprotected public Wi-Fi hotspots to dispense malicious software onto your device or steal login credentials. For this reason, avoid opening your mobile banking apps while connected to public Wi-Fi if possible and consider using a VPN to encrypt your connection.
Data breaches occur when cybercriminals exploit website or system vulnerabilities to gain access to sensitive information. A bank may experience a data breach if they don’t prioritize cybersecurity—and hackers can also use stolen data to compromise mobile banking apps.
Downloading suspicious files can have long-lasting negative effects, such as embedding ransomware onto your device. As the name implies, ransomware can compromise your device until you pay a specified amount of money. For example, a ransomware program can lock up your smartphone and bar you from unlocking it until you pay the ransom.
Fake mobile banking apps
App marketplaces are filled with various mobile payment apps, which allow users to find the right option for their preferences. But bad actors may occasionally sneak fake banking apps that imitate trusted software onto these platforms. Carefully read the description of any apps you plan on downloading, and only install apps from your device’s native app store (the Apple App Store for iOS and Google Play for Android).
Keyloggers pose another threat to mobile banking apps, as they can copy a user’s inputs, such as passwords and PINs. If a keylogger is installed on your smartphone, it will secretly record you as you send out text messages or unlock your device with your passcode.
Many modern devices have built-in security measures to defend against these risks, but vigilance is key. Boosting your cybersecurity knowledge can also reduce the likelihood of experiencing certain attacks.
5 cybersecurity tips for mobile banking
You can improve your device’s security by being mindful and taking some extra steps. The following cybersecurity tips can pay dividends while using mobile banking apps.
1. Use a VPN
Using a virtual private network (VPN) can protect you from cyberattacks, especially while you’re connected to public Wi-Fi networks. VPNs encrypt data, making it harder for anyone to access it if they don’t have permission. Norton Secure VPN offers several robust safety features, such as anonymous internet browsing and a no-log policy for user activity.
2. Set up two-factor authentication
Many mobile banking apps offer two-factor authentication (2FA), which asks users to sign in with a password followed by another login method, like a verification code or an authenticator app. If a bad actor gains access to your login credentials via a data breach, 2FA can serve as an extra layer of protection for your accounts.
3. Create complex passwords
Building secure passwords that use a mixture of symbols and characters makes it harder for hackers to hijack your accounts and install ransomware. In addition, updating those passwords every three months can help reduce the likelihood of cyberattacks. Products like Norton Password Manager simplify this process by keeping all your login info in one location.
4. Regularly update your device’s software
Developers strive to provide software updates for apps and operating systems year-round. When security updates are available for your smartphone, laptop, tablet, or mobile banking apps, install them as soon as possible. In certain cases, developers will even release “hotfix” updates to quickly address major issues like fake mobile banking apps.
5. Activate security alerts
Mobile banking apps encourage users to enable security alerts for various activities. For example, if a transaction is made that exceeds a limit you determine, you’ll receive a text message and email notification. If someone copies your password or PIN with a keylogger, security alerts can warn you about login attempts on unfamiliar devices.
Strong cybersecurity practices can go a long way. Try to regularly incorporate these tips to prevent your mobile banking apps from being compromised. You can even reduce the likelihood of experiencing other types of scams, like a Venmo scam, by safely using your banking apps.
Use mobile banking more safely with Norton 360 Deluxe
When it comes to dealing with mobile banking risks, it helps to cover all your bases. A service like Norton 360 Deluxe provides a wealth of security tools such as a VPN, parental controls, and malware protection to help keep you safe online, whether you’re using a mobile banking app or doing anything else online.
Emma McGowan is a privacy advocate & managing editor at Gen, formerly a freelance writer for outlets like Buzzfeed & Mashable. She enjoys reading, sewing, & her cats Dwight & Poe.
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