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December 05, 2016

Is Mobile Banking Safe?

By Special Guest
Gina Tedesco, Purchasing Manager, Rising Capital Associates

In the digital world, the game of cops and robbers is often a battle between security personnel and hackers. Each attempt to checkmate the other, and each learn from the other’s tactics once a player has made a move. The recent DDoS attack has prompted network professionals, government personnel, and private organizations to look at their own security infrastructure and divert more resources into ensuring a better defense. Critical infrastructure like nuclear power plants, banks, and financial districts throughout the country are questioning their own security protocols and large banks are looking to safeguard their mobile apps. These recent developments beg the question: “Is mobile banking safe?”

2017: Security is on the Agenda
The U.S. House Joint Committee recently held a cybersecurity hearing on the topic of security. The hearing was titled “Understanding the Role of Connected Devices in Recent Cyber Attacks” - and although it focused mostly on IoT connected devices, the meeting raised questions about the security of mobile apps as well.

“Technological innovation will always outpace efficiency and regulation” - Anonymous.

The technology world has taken two steps forward in innovation. In fact, many products can be connected to the internet whether they need to be or not. I anticipate that 2017 will be the year when we need to revise what we have built, ensuring that the foundation of the platforms we use on a day to day basis are sound, and as secure as they need to be. Even from a geopolitical standpoint, nations and multinational organizations will need to ensure that the online and mobile platforms they’ve built are not leaking information to third parties, or are giving individuals access who may turn rogue.

Defending Vulnerable Infrastructure
Vulnerable access points must be guarded against cybercriminals, who have been sending massive amounts of spam data, with increasing frequency and in greater volume than ever, in attempts to shut down networks. Once these networks are overloaded by the amount of incoming requests, critical information like names, addresses, emails, phone numbers, passwords, and financial data can be obtained. This information is then sold on the black market to a variety of nefarious bottom feeders, who can use it for purposes such as blackmail, fraud, and harassing cold calls from call centers. 

The Criticality of Keeping Financial Data Safe
In the last two decades, a majority of banks have moved online, enabling users to check their account balances and transfer funds through desktop, laptop, and tablet devices. In the last decade, the move has been towards mobile, with the largest banks in the U.S. like Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and JP Morgan Chase offering - and actually encouraging - users to “go mobile.”

However, despite all this technological leap forward some skeptics recommend proceeding with caution. Mobile is an entirely different animal than desktop, requiring different security needs, firewalls, and backdoor protection. “The threats associated with mobile financial services that are different than traditional PC-based browser access, so you need a specific strategy for mobile,” says Michael Lynch, who was head of digital banking authentication and consumer protection at Bank of America until last year (Source).

Mobile is Safe If  Used Correctly: Always Follow Best Practices
Today, 80% of consumers reported reviewing bank account information or checking balances as a frequently performed activity (Source). If you follow internet best practices you should be fine online. Always log out. Use your own network; avoid public networks. Keep passwords complex and to yourself. Keep an eye out for suspicious activity. And don’t share mobile devices or accounts. This is the same advice we teach our children when we give them a smartphone for the first time, but it merits us, as adults to re-learn it too.

Fortunately, if you bank with a well-known and reputable bank, you are likely to find a host of services, unbeknownst to you, that protect you as you are looking through your bank account on your way to work.

About the Author: Gina Tedesco works as the Purchasing Manager at Rising Capital Associates, a company that services structured settlements and annuity purchases. Gina graduated from Shippensburg University in May of 2010 with a Bachelor of Science in Finance. Since then she has been using her financial acumen to interact with a diverse group of customers on a daily basis. Connect with Gina on LinkedIn.


Edited by Ken Briodagh

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