Imagine this: you’re on your way to a fantastic vacation destination. You’re waiting in line at the airport to embark on a flight and suddenly you remember that you forgot to pay the rent. Sure, with all the hype caused by your vacation plans, it’s understandable. But your landlord isn’t exactly the patient and forgiving type. So, what do you do? Mobile banking seems like a great solution. But is it safe?
Mobile banking is easy, saves you a lot of time and effort and involves money. In some cases, lots of it. This is exactly what cybercrooks are after. No wonder most of their attacks are targeted at mobile banking sessions. How can you avoid falling victim? For starters, installing a mobile antivirus is imperative. Also, applying common sense and staying informed about threats to your mobile security are key ingredients to keeping your phone, identity and bank account safe. So here you are: an overview about mobile banking and key tips for a safe mobile banking experience.
Mobile banking – Overview
Now you can check your bank account balances, transfer money, make deposits and pay bills anytime, anywhere – all thanks to that clever small device called “smartphone”. Mobile banking sure makes your life easier, but it can also pose a threat to your mobile security, if you don’t have a mobile antivirus app installed on it.
How can you bank while on the go?
- Via your smartphone’s browser. Mobile banking via a mobile browser is similar to home banking. All you have to do is launch a browser, type in the web address of your bank, log in and start “moving money” from one account to another. Bear in mind that browsing-based threats for smartphones are just the same as those for computers – malicious links pushed up in search results, drive-by downloads, browser exploits etc. – and expose you to malware and phishing attempts. Which means mobile antivirus protection is just as important as PC antivirus protection.
- Via a mobile banking app provided by your bank. Accessing your bank account from your smartphone’s tiny screen is rather annoying. That’s why banks have come up with mobile banking apps optimized for small screens. However, not all apps support all mobile operating systems. Furthermore, not all banks offer this type of app.
- Via SMS. Some banks use SMS in a rudimentary form of mobile banking. You send your bank a text message and instantly receive another one with basic information about your bank account, balances and payments. The downside is that cybercrooks can easily intercept the text mesages. They create all sorts of malware to enable them do just that. Which brings us to another sensitive subject: mobile banking malware makes the case for proper mobile antivirus protection.
Mobile banking malware on the rise. Mobile antivirus, a must.
As we’ve already mentioned above, mobile browsing or text messages leave a door open for malware attacks. The most common malware used in attacks on banking sessions are mobile bots and Trojans, or the two combined. Without mobile antivirus protection, they can get to your phone and steal your credit card details and the login credentials to your bank account, and forward them to cybercrooks. Some mobile banking Trojans are so sophisticated that they can breach even the most advanced security systems put in place by banks.
To get an idea of just how complex these attacks can get, just have a look at Zitmo, the “mobile version” of the renowned Zeus Trojan for PCs. This mobile malware, launched in 2010, is highly targeted, as cybercrooks only use it for a specific group of people whose banks send them a unique Transaction Authorisation Number (TAN) with every banking session – all part of the banks’ security measures. Just as with “man-in-the-browser” attacks on PCs, where the “man” is actually the Zeus Trojan, Zitmo (Zeus-in-the-mobile), once installed on a smartphone, intercepts only the SMS containing the TAN and redirects it to the cybercrook who launched the attack. Sounds complicated? Well, it is. The more targeted these attacks are, the more dangerous and effective. So again, when it comes to online banking, a mobile antivirus app is just as important as PC antivirus software.
5 Tips for having a safe mobile banking experience
- If your bank provides a mobile banking app, it’s best you install it right away and avoid accessing your bank account via your smartphone’s browser. Download the app only from your bank’s official website.
- If, unfortunately, your bank only offers the home banking service – meaning, no mobile banking app – avoid accessing your bank account via your smartphone’s browser if you don’t have a mobile antivirus installed.
- Don’t use public Wi-Fi networks for bank transactions and turn off your Bluetooth connection when not in use. These can be open windows for eavesdroppers intercepting your transaction or installing spyware and other malware on your smartphone.
- Update your operating system and applications on your smartphone, including the browser, in order to avoid any malicious exploits of security holes in out-dates versions.
- Install an effective mobile antivirus on your smartphone. You never know when the urgent need to transfer money may arise. And whichever mobile banking method you use, mobile antivirus and antiphishing tools are must haves. BullGuard Mobile Security 10 comes with such features and more.