How To: Secure Mobile Banking

How To: Secure Mobile Banking

With smartphone and tablet use on the rise, it is no surprise that the number of mobile banking users has increased over the past couple of years. While many of the major banks have optimised their websites for mobile devices, utilising secure, multifactor login procedures and encryption for their customers, many smartphone owners are still dubious concerning just how secure mobile banking is.

And for good reason. According to an article posted by McAfee, the concerns surrounding banking aren’t unfounded. Malware targeting mobile devices have not only become more numerous but more sophisticated too, with mobile users open to attack via their mobile web browser, applications and even emails. On top of that, if your online banking sites are set to automatically log you in, a thief could access your account after stealing your phone.

How Can I Bank Securely Using My Mobile?

Luckily, you don’t have to give up mobile banking to keep your account safe. You can still use your online banking securely by implementing the following security measures:

Download Your Bank’s Banking App

commbank-app-imageRather than access your account via your bank’s mobile site, it is usually safer to do it through a dedicated banking app. Most (if not all) Australian banks have a mobile banking app available on the App Store, Google Play, Blackberry App World and the Windows Marketplace.

Make sure, however, that you read the reviews of the app first to determine whether the app is a legitimate one as there has been instances where a malicious app contain malware has disguised itself as a legitimate app. The reviews will tell you whether there are any issues with the app. It also pays to download the app via the link on the Bank’s website, rather than following a link from an email or from a search in the relevant app store.

Below you’ll find the links to a few of the major banks mobile banking application pages:

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Only Use Secure Wi-Fi Networks

Securing_Your_Wireless_largeHackers can gain access to your phone over public, unsecured networks. This means, that if you do your online banking using a public Wi-Fi Network, you run the risk of a hacker being able to gather your login account details to access your funds. Make sure if you use a Wi-Fi network, you use one that is password protected and secure.

If you do find yourself unable to avoid using a public network to do mobile banking, it is a good idea to change your password immediately afterward. While yes, this means another password to remember, the old adage better to be safe than sorry certainly applies!

Use The Inbuilt Security Features Of Your Phone

passcode-iosWhile sometimes the auto-locking feature and password protection on your phone can be an inconvenience, they do form part of the first line of defence in keeping your smartphone and personal details safe, particularly if your phone is lost or stolen.

Do Not Store Data You Cannot Afford To Lose

storageWhile most of us will keep our smartphones in our sight and on us all the time, there is a chance you may leave it in a taxi, at the gym or it may be stolen in a crowded public place. As such, while the password and auto-locking feature may keep hackers at bay for a short while, they will most likely gain access to your smartphone eventually, and thus to any sensitive information stored on the device. In saying this, it is important that you do not store your passwords for anything, including your online banking details in your phone. This extends to having the mobile app/ mobile site automatically log you in. As tedious as it is, entering in your login details everytime will help protect your account.

This also includes sharing any information about your account via a text message. If you receive a text message from your bank, delete it after reading.

Turn Off Tethering, Wi-Fi™ and Bluetooth™ When Not In Use

bluetoothIf there weren’t enough ways for a criminal to access your smartphone, here’s two more: Bluetooth and Tethering.

Most smartphones are compromised via the download of malicious software either in a file or an application. This can be facilitated via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth as they are the entry points for data to your smartphone. When they are active, both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth constantly scan for other signals trying to connect, which criminals can exploit and use to send malware to your phone with your knowledge. Tethering is another feature which allows others to connect to your smartphone, which can also be used to gain access. To avoid being compromised via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or Tethering a good rule of thumb is to switch them all off if you are not using them.

Avoid Jailbreaking Your Phone

iPhone-JailbreakJailbreaking refers to modifying the operating system running on a smartphone (i.e. iOS, Android, Windows Phone 8, Blackberry), to allow the user greater control over their device (by removing restrictions imposed by the operating system and by being able to install apps from app stores other than the official app store of that operating system).

When jailbreaking a phone, you essentially remove all of the native software features that come with the operating system, which includes in built security measures included by companies such as Apple, Google, Microsoft and Blackberry. This leaves you open to attacks, making your phone much more vulnerable to attacks.

Check Bank Statements

k3459675Whether you bank online using a PC or a mobile phone, a good habit to get into, is to check your bank statements on a regular basis. This will inform you of any irregular activity on your account so you can contact your bank with the information.

Install Anti-Virus Software

android-security-appsNow that smartphones are becoming more and more like pocket PC’s, it makes sense to treat them more like PC’s right? Most of us will have security software installed on our PC, which means that with all of the increased capabilities of a smartphone that mimics PC functions, we should be looking towards protecting it like we do our PCs.

There are a wide variety of effective anti-virus software available, developed specifically for protecting smartphones. Many of these will offer features such as detecting and removing viruses and spyware found in apps and files, block dangerous URLs that can steal your personal information such as your online banking login, remotely wipe all of your data and finding your phone via GPS if it is stolen or lost.

Not sure which anti-virus app to get? Check out our list of great apps for Apple and Android devices.

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