How many times have you found yourself away from home and needing to check your account balance? We’ve all been there, and for most of us, we feel more comfortable using an app to check our balance than risk going overdrawn – again. But how safe are these mobile banking apps?
Smart phone banking is on the rise thanks to mobile apps that are fast, efficient and give us the information we need while on the go. These apps are not yet perfected, so they do carry some risk that could have your banking information in the hands of the wrong person.
The most important privacy issue to be aware of is that mobile apps can carry malicious software that steals information from your banking account. App stores don’t always review their apps, so it’s easy to slip this software into them. If you buy directly from Google or Apple, you can expect that the app should be safe, but other app stores – don’t be so sure.
Second, you don’t have the same type of security on your phone as you do on your computer. Therefore, if there is malicious software on the app, the phone won’t recognize it as a laptop or computer would.
Finally, many users choose to use their banking apps while on WiFi networks, which are unprotected and have many people – yes, hackers – watching over what others do. And think about your own phone; if anyone picked it up, it probably wouldn’t have a passcode that would keep an unwanted person out.
Fortunately, you can proceed with caution, even though apps have taken a recent hit with a 400 percent increase in malware in the Android market alone in 2011. First, see if you need an app in the first place. Some banks have a mobile-based website that you can use in place of an app. These banking sites are much more secure, although you still want to use caution when in a WiFi network.
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