You work hard for your money so it’s important that you use desktop or mobile banking apps that will keep your data safe.
Interest in financial technology apps (fintech) and online banking is growing as fewer and fewer people visit stationary banks to access their bank accounts.
This makes people think about banking apps security. To answer this question, you need to know if the app you are downloading is selling your data. While you might download apps to your computer, the more likely you are using them on your mobile device. Mobile banking is convenient and now ubiquitous.
In today’s digital economy, understanding privacy policies and awareness of potential threats is becoming increasingly important in protecting your consumer information and keeping it out of the wrong hands. Could there be a threat to this mobile banking app that made your life easier? It is really up to you to understand as much as you can about online safety.
Are banking apps safe?
More and more people are using mobile banking, even if it’s just a matter of checking an account balance. More than 75% of Americans use a mobile device to see how much they have in their bank account. That has a lot to do with social distancing due to the pandemic and the convenience of banking on the go, but also with the rapid development of fintech apps that can perform a range of financial transactions.
In fact, according to recent polls, 50% of Generation Z adults start investing before the age of 25 as more investment apps become available. And then there is a whole fleet of crypto trading apps.
Cyber security experts agree that mobile banking is both convenient and secure, but consumers need to take precautions. You may not think that anyone could spy on your mobile banking activities, but there are potential security holes in the code and encryption methods of well-known fintechs. It is also possible that network vulnerabilities, such as your WiFi connection, leave your device open to others.
While identity theft is on the rise, that’s not all to worry about. Most of the time, when apps sell your data to third parties, the information is used to customize their marketing algorithms and learn more about their audience, especially mobile banking habits.
Most apps keep track of your data
What you need to know is that 80% of apps track and save your data for various reasons. If this personal information has been shared with a fraudster, you could become a victim or risk a security breach.
In fact, according to recent research by Freshbooks, one in ten adults in the United States was the victim of COVID scams that cost a total of $ 670 million.
COVID scams have become a much bigger threat as they can look realistic (especially phishing emails) but also use urgent language and fear tactics. Most of them will eventually ask you to provide your banking or financial information, or run malware when you open it that will compromise your financial security on your device. Some of these scams were tied to stimulus funds provided by the government to offset job losses and other financial hardships caused by the pandemic.
Needless to say, making sure your favorite mobile banking app is safe from hackers is critical. Let’s discuss how you can achieve that.
6 ways for secure online and mobile banking
1. Download only verified banking apps
Many banks and fintechs pride themselves on their apps, so they often tell you everything you need to know about their apps on their websites. If they don’t provide information in advance and just ask you to download their app – be careful. It could be a fake and, financially, one of the internet’s biggest threats.
A real fintech app has detailed information about its features, the operating systems it requires, and whether or not your money is FDIC insured. Make sure you are using a reliable app store and never download an app that you found in an open forum or text message.
2. Use two-factor or multi-factor authentication
Using two-factor or multi-factor authentication can help keep your money safe in the event your credentials fall into the wrong hands. These authentication processes, requiring more than just your username and password, help the company and you deal with cybersecurity issues.
You will also need to confirm your identity according to the settings you have set, usually in the form of an SMS sent to your phone with a one-time code with an expiration date. If your banking app doesn’t offer at least two-factor authentication to protect sensitive information, then you should reconsider.
3. Actually, use a strong password
It’s annoying to have what appear to be millions of different logins for a multitude of accounts. But a strong password works in keeping fraudulent activity at bay. To go a step further, don’t ask your browser to save your passwords for you. Instead, use a password manager that uses encryption to keep your passwords secure.
4. Avoid public WiFi if possible
If you receive a warning stating that the network you are on is not a secure network, you should fear that others may be tracking your actions online – including identifying personal information necessary to access your social Media can be used, email and fintech apps.
Using public WiFi is convenient, but you shouldn’t use it to check your bank account or do other financial transactions if you can avoid it. Mobile banking is our way of life, but don’t take any security risks.
5. Set up notifications or push notifications
Many apps ask users if they want to allow notifications for different types of activity on accounts. When you are receiving a lot of payments or making multiple purchases it may seem like all of these notifications are clogging 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 on the couch at home that your card has been used for a purchase, you know that someone knows your bank details and you can get them to your bank as soon as possible.
6. Watch out for other apps you download
Even if your banking app is with a reputable bank and you take every precaution to protect your personal information, your money could still be compromised. There is certain malware that can be hidden in the code of apps that have nothing to do with banking.
These sideload apps downloaded from unofficial sources may contain malware that hides in the background on your device, waiting for you to open a banking app. The malware then creates a fake overlay that mimics your app’s login page where, once entered, it steals a username and password. So, be aware of the different landing screens your banking app is using so you can spot potential forgery and avoid this type of attack.
It’s also a good idea to make sure that you have an insurance policy in place to protect your assets in case your information is compromised and you fall victim to fraud. While this is another expense, it can help you recover from a major financial loss in time
Over the generations, people have changed the way they deal with their banks. Online banking started years ago, but banking app usage has accelerated since March 2020, the start of bans and social distancing due to the pandemic.
Instead of going to the bank to make deposits, open accounts, or make payments, people are using fintech apps that have the technology to take control of the bank. While there are some risks associated with 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 individuals willing to pay for your data in order to carry out subsequent scams. To make banking hassle-free, keep these tips in mind the next time you download a fintech app to make sure you are careful about who you share your most sensitive information with.
New York-based author Kiara Taylor specializes in financial education and financial technology. She is a corporate financial analyst who also leads a group affiliated with the University of Cincinnati that teaches black students financial literacy and helps them find jobs and internships.