Kids take to all things digital like ducks to water. Tech is the norm, it's natural. But for those who are older there can be greater learning curves. For instance, mobile banking is something younger age groups do without thinking about and it’s rapidly becoming widespread. Among older age groups however there is a greater reluctance to adopt mobile banking because of the perception that it’s not quite safe.

But is mobile banking more vulnerable to hacking or is it safer? Let’s take a look.

What are the dangers?
  • Banking using your smart phone gives you direct access to your bank accounts. But it also means your account could be open to anyone who manages to access your phone
  • Mobile viruses and worms are one of the greatest threats as are fake apps designed to look like the real thing which hide malware
  • For instance, banking Trojans can secretly download, stay dormant and only surface when the user opens a legitimate banking app on his device. The Trojan creates a false version of the bank's login page and overlays it on top of the legitimate app. 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 realise they have been compromised.
  • Fake banking apps, on the other hand, impersonate the banks' real mobile apps and, once installed on a victim's device, collect the users' credentials when they try logging in.
How common are attacks on mobile banking hacks?
  • As banking from a smartphone becomes increasingly common the level of attacks also ramp up. For instance, in 2019 a number of US security research organisations reported that nearly 65,000 fake apps were detected on major app stores.
  • Further research reveals that the average number of attacks by mobile banking malware in 2019 was of approximately 270,000 per month. This sounds a lot but these are global figures.
  • To date by the majority of attacks take place in countries like Iran, Pakistan, Nigeria, India, Algeria and Saudi Arabia. That said, clearly attacks are happening all over the world including Europe and the US.
You might think these figures alarming but they need to be put in context. This year there will be an estimated 5.5 billion smartphone users in the world and 5.4 billion bank accounts according to the Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast for 2016 to 2021. 2021 is also slated to be the year when the number of customers regularly using branches will be overtaken by those using apps, according to industry analysts.

Staying safe

Banks take mobile banking seriously:
  • Some banks now offer specific software to tackle the threat of mobile fraud. This is aimed at providing an extra security level to protect you from any virus or Trojan attack.
  • Most mobile banking apps do not store your bank details directly on your phone, but instead access it from a data centre.
  • This means your smartphone doesn’t hold your personal bank information.
  • Banks can also protect you with refunds if your account is compromised through your phone.
On balance mobile banking is secure. It’s when we get fooled into doing something wrong that it becomes insecure.

Is mobile banking worth it?

Standard mobile banking applications let you:
  • View account balances
  • View mini statements
  • Transfer money between your own accounts
  • Make direct payments
This means it is easy to check the activity on your account but less easy to take money out. And if it means you check your finances more often then it’s clearly a good thing.

Can you improve security?

To avoid making mistakes follow these tips:
  • Only download mobile applications directly from your bank - they are free to use and you can download without any reservations about the software.
  • Install quality security software. Often if you have it installed there is a remote deletion option that means you can delete any data stored on the phone if you discover it is lost or stolen.
  • Download any free security software provided by the bank.
  • Use a PIN or password to lock your phone when you are not using it.
  • Make sure your phone's browser does not automatically input your passwords or usernames for you.
  • Switch off the Bluetooth function on your mobile when it is not in use. This will stop any unmonitored wireless activity on your phone.
  • If you are using your smartphone on public Wi-Fi use a VPN. It hides your activity and encrypts your data.
  • Delete any text messages from your bank when no longer needed, so that any information they have sent to you is not sat in your inbox.
  • As a final safeguard we also recommend using BullGuard Premium Protection to protect your personal data.
So in answer to the question is banking from your smartphone safe, the answer is yes as long as you take a few simple precautionary steps and be aware of phishing mails and fake apps.