If you're like many Americans, you have a mobile banking app downloaded on your phone. However, most people don’t use it for 100% of their banking needs. A 2020 survey found that people typically decide which banking channel to use based on which kind of transaction they need to make. A majority of people divide their banking activities between online and mobile platforms, while only around 2% opt to visit physical branches for all of their banking needs.
So, if more people have smartphones than have computers, why aren’t they utilizing a mobile banking app for their banking services more often? For many, it’s because they don’t fully trust the security of mobile banking apps. However, Paul Benda, Senior Vice President for Operational Risk and Cybersecurity at the American Bankers Association, says, “if you download the mobile app from a secure store, that is just as safe as visiting a bank branch.”
How Secure are Mobile Banking Apps?
Many assume that mobile banking apps are less secure than online banking, but that is actually a false assumption. Here are some reasons why a mobile banking app could be even more secure than an online banking platform:
- Multi-Factor Authentication. Mobile apps are more likely to use multifactor authentication than an online banking website. With many mobile banking apps, you must enter your username and password and then also enter a code that is sent to your phone or email address. You may also have your mobile banking app set up to require something stronger than a password – such as a fingerprint or face ID. These types of biometric logins can be especially helpful if your mobile phone is stolen as they’re harder to bypass than a password, especially if your phone is set to save passwords - something you should never do!
- Less Malware. In general, smartphones are better protected against malicious software and viruses than desktop computers. This is because most phones require software to be installed through downloads from authorized app stores. These stores are constantly scanning the apps within their marketplace to help ensure their validity and security. Also, with smartphones, apps are generally isolated from other apps on the phone, making it harder for a malicious app to interfere with a legitimate one. It’s important to note though that a “jailbroken” phone does not have these same security advantages.
You should also keep in mind that your phone’s security is only as strong as the network you’re using. Remember that public Wi-Fi networks are not secure and you should never access sensitive information – including banking apps – while connected to one. If you’re on the go and need to access your mobile banking app, connect to your phone’s cellular network instead. Hackers cannot intercept data shared over a cellular network like they can over a public Wi-Fi connection. In order to prevent your phone from jumping onto any available Wi-Fi network, disable the setting that allows your phone to automatically connect to Wi-Fi.
Anything related to your personal identifying information has a certain amount of risk associated with it. Cyberattacks are becoming more and more sophisticated and harder to spot. Whether you are using a desktop computer or a mobile app to access your bank accounts, you can reduce the risk of having your accounts compromised by following some basic security practices:
- Password Protection. Yes, you should have a strong password for your mobile banking login, but you also need a strong password for your phone. Make it a habit to lock your phone when it is not in use. If you lose your phone or it is stolen, that will be an added layer of protection. And as mentioned previously, don’t save passwords on your phone.
- Shoulder Surfing. It's easy to become so absorbed in your phone that you forget to stay aware of your surroundings. When you are in public places, notice the people around you. If you're standing in a line or tight area, wait until you are in a place where your screen is not visible to others before accessing your mobile banking app or typing in your password.
- Don't Put Your Phone Down. How many times have you put your phone or purse on the table while in a coffee shop and left it while you pick up your order? In public places, do not put your phone down and allow someone to easily swipe it. It might be easier than you think for someone to grab your phone when you are distracted. If your phone is stolen while it’s unlocked or not password-protected, the thief will have easy access to all of your data.
- Ignore Suspicious Texts, Calls, and Emails. Don’t be fooled into responding to a text message claiming to be your bank or answering a phone call from a spoofed phone number. Remember that your bank will never ask for your account number, password, or social security number via text, email, or when they call you. If you receive an unexpected text, email, or call from your bank asking for sensitive information, don’t respond. Instead, call your bank from the number listed on their official website. Be aware of suspicious links in text messages and emails as well. Your best bet is always to visit your bank’s website directly, rather than click on any questionable links.
- Check your account regularly. One of the greatest conveniences of mobile banking is that it allows you to check your account whenever and wherever you are. Use that to your advantage to regularly log in to make sure your account is safe. Ensure all of the transactions listed are valid and report any suspicious activity and transactions to your bank immediately.
Mobile banking apps can be a huge help with staying on top of your finances. And, with the added security that a mobile banking app can provide, there's no need to question whether you should be using your bank’s app or not. By following basic security best practices, you can help to ensure that your accounts are secure.
Learn more about how you can benefit from BankFive’s mobile app today!