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44% Of Account Holders Prefer Mobile Banking. Just How Risky Is It?

Published: August 29, 2022 on our newsletter Security Fraud News & Alerts Newsletter.

We love the convenience technology brings to our lives, and many of us would agree the ease of online banking is hard to resist. According to the American Bankers Association, 44% of account holders go to their mobile devices for financial transactions. Cybersecurity experts believe mobile banking is safe, generally. Some are quick to point out that dangers lurk online as well as with in-person financial transactions. Experts caution online banking customers need to be vigilant and take security precautions.

Looking at the two biggest mobile banking threats today can help those already mobile banking online and those considering it. The FBI “expects cyber actors to attempt to exploit new mobile banking customers using a variety of techniques, including app-based banking trojans and fake banking apps.”

Trojan financial malware, a fierce foe of financial institutions, presents serious risk to mobile banking. It hides in fake banking apps, popular gaming apps, and lesser-known apps. Financial trojan malware is also sold on underground hacker websites to any and all takers. Either way, this sneaky malware gets an enormous number of downloads, according to Kaspersky research.

Kaspersky finds last year saw 97,661 new mobile banking trojan variants, and 17,372 new mobile trojan ransomware variants. They also found the remarkable total of 3,464,756 malicious installation packages, or APKs. These APKs infiltrate third-party sites and shadowy developers create them.

Fake banking apps are another big concern for financial institutions and their mobile app users. According to the FBI, these bogus banking apps are “one of the fastest growing sectors of smartphone-based fraud.” Impersonating well-known financial institution mobile banking apps is their M.O., and duping users into providing their login data is the goal. The FBI finds “Once the user enters their credentials into the false login page, the trojan passes the user to the real banking app login page so they do not realize they have been compromised.”

Safety Tips for Mobile Banking

It’s up to every user to consider if mobile banking risks are worth their need for convenient and speedy transactions. Knowing how to enhance your security while using these apps may help users decide to start or stay with mobile banking.

  • Download apps only from the trusted, official sources such as the Google Play Store and Apple App Store, and never side-load from third-party outlets.

  • Always keep your mobile device up to date by installing all system and security updates immediately.

  • Setup alerts by text or email with your financial institution for account transactions that can expose fraudulent activity.

  • Use phishing red flags to catch email phishing and text smishing. Hacker’s use them to impersonate your financial institutions and snag your PII (personally identifiable information).

  • Don’t use WiFi for mobile financial transactions. Hacker’s troll public WiFi looking for their next target, so make sure you’re not it. Consider waiting until you’re home and can use a safer connection.

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