Risks and benefits of mobile banking apps
Smartphones and tablets are like (small) computers and therefore are exposed to dangers similar to those of classic machines: loss or theft of data, malware infection, unauthorized access, etc. Also, since they are used on the go, risks such as loss and theft are added.
On the other hand, they offer advantages such as the appearance of mobility and the little space they occupy. When using an app for Mobile Banking, another decisive advantage is added: Unlike traditional e-banking through a browser, the customer receives from the financial institution a ready-to-use and specially developed software for e-banking, which accordingly has good protections.
The security-conscious user, therefore, no longer needs to worry about such tedious tasks as manually entering the bank’s address into the browser and checking that the connection is secure. Unlike the browser, in fact, the e-banking app performs these operations automatically in the background, thus minimizing the risk of typical errors such as typing errors and phishing – of course, provided that the user observes some basic rules.
Secure use of a Mobile Banking app
- Create basic protection
First, when using a mobile device, you need to minimize the general dangers. Follow our “5 operations for your digital security” also for mobile devices. Make sure, in particular, to activate the automatic lock of the screen through code, password, fingerprint, or facial recognition.
The need to be careful concerns, especially smartphones and tablets: never lose sight of your device. Be careful not to tell anyone your login details such as pins, TAN and passwords, hide when you enter them and not let anyone see you from behind. Pay attention when opening emails, attachments, chats (such as WhatsApp messages) or MMS. The malware can also spread via MMS and WhatsApp. Do not click unknown links and delete messages from unknown senders immediately. Check the unknown numbers before calling back.
- Be careful about the origin of apps
Only install the apps you really need and make sure they come from a reliable source, that is, from the official Store (e.g., Apple’s App Store or Google Play Store).
Don’t trust apps with poor reputation or recommendations from people you don’t know. Before installing an app, collect information about the provider, if you do not already know it.
From time to time check which apps you still use, and uninstall those that are outdated and those that you no longer use: each app is a potential security flaw in addition.
Report any error messages and unusual operations of your e-banking app to your financial institution immediately.
- Limiting access rights
Many apps take you, without clear reasons, wide rights. For example, you don’t need every single app to access your phone’s location, address book, or status data. For this reason, it is advisable to critically assess whether access rights are really necessary for the performance of functions and, if possible, disable all non-essential rights.
- Check who runs the network
Your smartphone or tablet can connect in many ways to your financial institution. When you are on the go, the device connects to different networks. If you use a Wi-Fi or WLAN connection, make sure it is reliable before it is used: unsavory operators of “free” Wi-Fi networks could direct the e-banking app to the wrong server and intercept the access data you enter.
For Android devices, you can also set up a firewall app to monitor and protect active connections. For iOS devices (iPhone/iPad), this is neither possible nor necessary.
- Manage loss, sale, and disposal properly
If your smartphone or tablet falls into the wrong hands, the files or access data it contains may be misused and used.
Various apps allow you to remotely lock lost or stolen devices. The operation deletes from the device your personal data, which then will no longer be available for consultation. After blocking the device, it is advisable to also contact the phone operator to have the SIM card locked.
If you do not want the data that you have stored in the device to fall into the wrong hands when you sell it or dispose of it, remember that there may remain traces of data if you have not previously safely deleted all storage media. The procedure is described for example o,n Apple’s website and on an SRF page. Of course, you will also have to remove the SIM card and, if you do not intend to continue using it, destroy it.