Mobile phone banking is fast and efficient, but it’s not always safe. Common mistakes and new security threats can cause you problems.
Read on to learn how to protect yourself with our tips on phone banking!
Use Strong and Unique Passwords
Experts have been shouting about strong and unique passwords for more than a decade, but most people just use the same easy-to-remember password for all online activities. Sure, it’s more convenient to use the same password everywhere, but it’s like leaving your door wide open to hackers!
Using the same password for mobile games and casual forums might be OK, but your phone banking needs a STRONG password to protect your wealth.
Use numbers, symbols and both lowercase and uppercase letters when crafting your banking app password. It goes without saying that your mobile banking password should be unique and used only for that purpose and not in any other app or email account.
You should not use the same password across different sites and accounts. If one of your accounts is compromised, you are effectively giving hackers the keys to your bank account if they all have the same password!
Keep Your Bank’s Mobile App and Smartphone OS Up to Date
You should always be “app-to-date!”
While most banking apps will update automatically, it’s important to make sure they’re always up to date on your device.
Phone banking apps get updates due to functionality issues, but also security, and older versions might be virtually unlocked to hackers. So, always update when prompted.
Your phone’s operating system (OS) needs to be up to date as well due to similar security concerns. OS patches plug security holes and protect you against all sorts of malicious threats. Keep an extra eye out for patches tagged as “Critical Security Update” and apply them ASAP.
As a rule of thumb, ALWAYS update when prompted, even if your smartphone asked you a few days ago. You may find it bothersome, but not updating is a real risk!
Sign In Directly Through Your Bank’s Mobile App
When browsing online, it might feel easier to log into your bank account through your web browser. However, this leaves your account vulnerable to a host of security threats.
Banks offer dedicated phone banking apps for a reason, and that’s security. By downloading the official bank app, you place a new layer of protection between yourself and hackers. Banking apps are designed just to access your bank account and come with a range of security features.
Moreover, web browsers can store passwords locally, which means that anyone can log into your bank account if you access it through a mobile web browser and accidentally save the password!
On the other hand, phone banking apps often come with sophisticated user recognition features that further hamper hacking attempts.
You should generally aim to minimize the steps needed to log into your bank account. The fewer the steps, the smaller the risk of hacking.
Don’t Access Your Phone Banking from Public WiFi Hotspots
Free WiFi is everywhere!
You can access your mobile banking from a hotel, an airport or a net caf?. However, public WiFi spots are essentially unsecured wireless networks, which can be easily hacked into. A hacker can intercept the data you input through a public WiFi, and this includes any login credentials for your bank app.
Moreover, many free WiFi services require login through a dedicated online service, which means an additional security threat to your password. If you have to log through a different server, that server will hold any information you transmit.
However, there are ways to access your mobile banking anywhere with maximum security, as we’ll see below…
Use a VPN
If you absolutely need to use your phone banking from a public network, make sure you use a virtual private network (VPN) to do that.
In fact, using a VPN is a good idea for accessing sensitive information even when not in public networks.
A VPN will offer you the ultimate defense against hackers, as it will effectively place a firewall between you and any potential hackers.
Don’t Open Emails and SMS from Unknown Senders
According to The Wall Street Journal, bank account hacks are on the rise, and phone banking malware is to blame.
This malicious software can get in your smartphone through trapped advertisement links, scam emails and malware apps.
It’s generally advisable to just delete emails and SMS from senders you don’t recognize as there’s a chance they might be infected.
Some scam emails try to trick you into thinking they are from official sources, including your bank! Banks and official institutions have policies never to request personal information and passwords over email or SMS, so any message that asks you to send them that is a scam.
Also, it always pays to keep up with the latest advancements in phone banking, as new scams surface and new methods of protection are invented.
Log Out and Share With Caution
Keeping your banking app on may seem handy, but it puts your entire account at risk in case your device is stolen!
Always log out after each phone banking session if the app does not log you out automatically.
If you let other people use your device, be sure to sign off your banking app before handing them your smartphone. Moreover, make sure you know what they are accessing because they might accidentally download malicious software that will compromise your banking app.
Phone Banking Made Easy
We hope the above will make your mobile banking experience easier and more secure. As the world becomes more and more digital, banking apps will become mandatory.
Do you have more financial questions? Check out Eastwood Bank’s financial blog for tons of hands-on informational and educational articles on banking and finance!