Accessing financial institutions like a bank is very common with all consumers, nearly 60% of consumers made a payment with a mobile app in 2019, and using a Canadian stock market app to trade stocks is ubiquitous in the under 35 crowd.
“…(By the start of 2019, TD Ameritrade saw) Logins via mobile devices more than double, averaging more than 642,000 from about 315,000 in 2017. SOURCE
For many years the staff of URTech have frowned on using mobile phone apps for banking or accessing any other seriously private data. This is because there have been so many hacks involving mobile phones and the relative ease of using a more secure PC to interact with the bank.
Today however we will investigate how mobile banking has changed.
History of Weak Mobile Security
In 2019 notable IT security company Check Point warned of a 50% increase in the already high rate of attacks on mobile phones. This is because by that time, nearly everyone with money or influence was carrying around not just a cell phone but a highly capable smart phone.
Most people think that receiving a text to confirm your login keeps you safe from hackers but as we reported a couple of years ago, the phone companies texting systems are ripe for attack and don’t do very much to discourage professionals.
In 2018 Pradeo’s Mobile Security Report found that:
- the number one threat to organizations was data leaving the company using mobile apps
- public WiFi attacks are the most common threat on networks
While URTech produces a huge amount of consumer friendly content, we recognize that we have a focus on corporate systems and so we wonder if our bias colors our position on mobile financial apps.
What Has Change In Mobile Security?
Cell Phone Security Culture
In the past it was unfashionable for consumers to be concerned with mobile security. Those asking questions or taking precautions were seen as stodgy and un-cool. However just as lining up two days early to buy the next iPhone has gone out of style, so has being blind to mobile cybersecurity threats. Today if you are not at least aware that your mobile is a serious security risk, you are seen as naïve and foolish.
It was not so long ago that virtually no-one used security apps like antivirus or anti-malware on their cell phones and if you did, they did not do very much. Today even Apple, who used to promote their iOS as being almost impermeable, highly recommends adding a third party security tool. You won’t find a mobile device manufacturer or IT commentator that does not echo that ‘security first’ sentiment and most consumers have taken heed.
These anti-malware apps are not a joke anymore; they are effective:
Many years ago iOS devices like the Apple iPhone used to be much more secure than Android based devices but that too has changed. Android devices are now tighter than ever. Since the start of 2020, Samsung (the worlds largest manufacturer of mobile phones), has included pre-installed McAfee anti-malware software. Samsung also configured older models with the same software as part of their routine patches, meaning that all recent Samsung Galaxy phones have McAfee installed. Further, security company Norton points out:
“…manufacturers are better at making sure Android’s built-in security features work correctly. SOURCE
In recent years, under Tim Cook’s leadership, Apple is also now much more willing to publicly admit their failings and quickly patch security holes.
How To Keep Your Money Safe On Mobile
No matter how good mobile device manufacturers become there are a few quick points that every mobile device user needs practice when making financial transactions on their mobile phones:
- Don’t use public WiFi when you are doing anything important like banking
- Use an app, not a web page to make bank transactions or buy stocks
- Require your financial apps to use two factor authentication like Google Authenticator or Microsoft Authenticator
- Install a third party malware / virus scanner on your mobile phone
- Keep your mobile phones operating systems AND the applications up to date
In today’s insanely fast paced world in which Tesla stock can rise or fall 5% in a few hours, GameStop can boom and bust the same day and Bitcoin can jump up or down 10% in an afternoon, waiting to buy and sell stock from what you think of as a more secure PC can be a costly decision.
If you need to trade stock or move money in a hurry, there is no better way than through mobile devices like your Apple iPhone or Samsung Galaxy as long as you use what are now common sense practices like avoiding public Wifi, keeping your cell patched, and using two factor authentication.