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How safe is banking on my mobile phone?

Most, if not all, banks have an app these days, allowing you to manage your money via your smartphone. There’s no doubt that it makes for convenient banking, but is it safe?

The latest UK Payment Markets report shows that almost half (47%) of UK adults are using mobile banking – a number that rises year on year. So, too, does the number of bank payments made using online or mobile banking, with two billion transactions being made by consumers every year.

Although online banking is currently more popular than mobile banking – almost seven in 10 UK adults use internet banking, according to the Office of National Statistics – the latter is expected to eclipse the former in the coming years. Industry experts CACI say that mobile banking will outperform online banking by 2023.

So, with everybody seemingly getting on board with mobile banking, you’d like to assume that the risks of being stung by a fraudster are fairly low. But is this a fair and accurate assumption to make? Let’s see what the experts say…

Is mobile banking safe?

Having conducted some thorough research into the security protocols adopted by banks, Which? says that mobile banking is “in some ways safer than using a computer to log in to your bank account”.

The key reason being that fraudsters are unable to trick mobile users in the same way they can computer users. As Which? points out, apps downloaded from Apple or Google’s Play Store are vetted before they are made available to users. PCs, on the other hand, can run software from any source.

In other words, users might inadvertently download malware or spyware onto their computers, which compromises their security – but they’re far less likely to make the same mistake on their smartphones.

A good example of this is keystroke logging, often referred to as keylogging or keyboard capturing. This is a common method used by fraudsters to track and record every keystroke entry made on a computer, often without the permission or knowledge of the user.

However, it’s difficult to plant a keylogger on a smartphone without the user knowing about it.

As a result of hackers being unable to penetrate smartphones in the same way as they can PCs, they often have to resort to looking over someone’s shoulder – known as ‘shoulder surfing’ – as they use a banking app, akin to what happens in cashpoint queues.

What are the risks of mobile banking?

Which? stresses that mobile banking isn’t risk free – and it’s unlikely to ever be. Cyber criminals are always looking for new ways to exploit technology, and you need to be on your guard at all times to ensure you don’t become a victim of their fraudulent activity.

One of the biggest threats to mobile banking users right now is fake banking apps.

Although, as we said earlier, Apple and Google respectively will vet apps prior to public consumption, sometimes fake ones can slip through the net – especially on the Android operating system.

In 2019, antivirus and internet security company ESET conducted a report into Android banking malware, warning that simple-to-develop fake banking apps are extremely effective against unsuspecting users, with victims seeing their bank accounts emptied after they are tricked into providing their log-in details.

The good news for iPhone users is that the App Store is a more secure marketplace than the Google Play Store. However, some iPhone users decide to jailbreak their device, which gives them the ability to install and use unauthorised apps.

If you choose to jailbreak your iPhone, be mindful of fake apps masquerading as official banking apps.

In addition to fake apps, the other big risk with mobile banking comes should your device end up in the wrong hands.

Should you lose your smartphone or have it stolen, a fraudster wouldn’t have to try too hard to gain access to it and any data it holds.

While most mobile banking apps don’t actually store your bank details directly on your phone, problems can occur if a fraudster manages to log in to your mobile banking app.


How to protect yourself against mobile banking fraud

To reduce your chances of falling victim to mobile banking fraud you should:

  • Go via your bank’s website to download the official app – this way you won’t be tricked into installing a fake app.
  • Make sure you keep your banking app up to date.
  • If your bank provides free security software, make sure you install it.
  • Download some quality security software. The best programmes give you the option to remotely delete any data stored on the phone if you discover it is lost or stolen.
  • Adopt good password hygiene – don’t use the same PIN or password for everything.
  • Use two-factor authentication, if your banking app has it.
  • Avoid using public Wi-Fi networks that don’t offer the same security as private networks.
  • Consider whether it’s actually worth jailbreaking your iPhone – security will be compromised if you do.
  • Keep your smartphone in sight at all times. If you do want to carry it in your bag, make sure that you don’t leave it unattended.
  • Be wary when requested for personal information.

As long as you follow these tips and stay scammer-aware, you won’t go far wrong. Banks are improving their app security features all the time to help keep your details safe and secure.


Find the best mobile iphone insurance in the UK

As well as protecting the security of your device, make sure it’s covered with quality iPhone insurance courtesy of Gadget Cover.

We can provide insurance for your phone if it’s less than 18 months. Once purchased, there’s no limit to how long your gadget can be covered. You also need to make sure your device is in good condition and full working order, and that you’re able to provide proof of ownership.

For peace of mind that your smartphone is well protected against life’s little mishaps, get iPhone insurance with Gadget Cover today.

Get a quote – and in the meantime, why not check out our other blog on how to track a lost or stolen iPhone?

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