By: Emma Kavanagh
Ready or not, mobile banking apps for Android and other platforms are coming on fast. Android banking apps have gotten much more popular over the last six months as more banks officially sign on to support various forms of mobile banking, including mobile check deposit and much more. With mobile banking Android options proliferating fast, what do you need to know to make sure your device will be safe — not to mention your money?
Times are changing, and I’d even say that mobile security is one of the most important topics everyone should understand – so let’s find out more.
Why Are Android Banking Apps Such a Big Issue in Online Safety?
The public hasn’t exactly been fast to adopt mobile banking for Android or, really, mobile banking on any other platform. The reasons are clear: Wireless signals are easier for hackers to infiltrate than any type of traditional, wired transaction. This is true in a wide variety of situations and has a lot of people wondering whether they want to try mobile banking Android software at all. Is it really as dangerous as it might seem to be?
Well, the answer is both yes and no.
It’s true that wireless signals are, by their nature, easier to compromise. That said, it’s also true that many banks are looking to a future where branch services will be stripped down further and online services will be expanded … saving time and money by making it less necessary for customers to go to the bank.
Many banks are notorious for poor customer service, so banking customers really have a lot to gain from using mobile banking in various forms. But it’s no surprise that there are many people who are skeptical about this: A lot of the modern coverage we see about hackers has to do with wireless. So, is online banking safe? It depends on how you do it.
What You Need to Know to Stay Safe When Mobile Banking for Android
Just like when you’re surfing online and browsing your favorite sites, a lot of the power is in your hands when it comes to protecting your banking information online. First and foremost, remember that you can go online through your hard-wired, desktop connection to do your banking … if you are really uncomfortable with mobile banking, you don’t have to do it!
However, you can protect your mobile banking transactions in many ways:
Make Sure You Use Encryption
When you go online to do your banking, most of your transactions are protected by high-level encryption. Encryption uses complex mathematical methods to protect your data by making it impossible for hackers to read it while it’s “in transit.” Most modern browsers have built-in support for encryption. Make sure your Android operating system has the latest updates and that you are using the most up-to-date version of your bank’s mobile app. Don’t visit your bank using the built-in browser on your phone, which can be less safe.
Use Your 3G or 4G Connection, Not Wi-Fi, for Banking
Most modern smartphones come with support for both 3G/4G and Wi-Fi. It’s not necessary that you understand all the differences between these: Just know that Wi-Fi is usually used in public spaces such as airports where you can’t access your “normal” 3G/4G. Wi-Fi access generally requires you to get a password, and is area-dependent – once you leave the building, business, or local area, you lose access to that Wi-Fi network. Become familiar with the difference between having your phone in Wi-Fi mode versus 3G/4G mode. Never use online banking while you’re connected to Wi-Fi, as it can be easier to hack than 3G/4G.
Only Access Your Bank Directly, Not Through Email or Other Messages
Many banks email their customers on a monthly basis to remind them about online statements for their credit cards or checking accounts. These are the only messages most people receive from their bank on a regular basis. Even if you get an email that seems to be from your bank, don’t click on any link or type in your password. Hackers often send out fake email messages warning that your account has been compromised and your password needs to be changed to get you to act before you think. Always visit your bank through its approved mobile app and contact customer service through the app to verify the authenticity of any email messages.
Security Resources of the Day
When it comes to mobile banking and mobile devices in general, you can never be too safe! Here are some resources I think will be useful for our blog visitors. Don’t forget, though, that if you don’t have Norton 360 for all your internet-enabled devices, you could still be leaving open some dangerous “back doors” hackers can use to compromise your banking data!