FBI Is Warning About a Potential Banking Apps Exploitation: What to Do?

A smartphone allows you to keep your entire world in the palm of your hand. Banking is no longer an exception, and you’ve probably been using online banking for a while now. According to an FBI report, more than 75% Americans used mobile banking at least once in 2019, and the overall use of mobile banking apps increased by 50% since the beginning of 2020. While it shows that such type of banking is convenient enough for consumers to switch to their mobile devices for the service, the surge in banking app use automatically translates to the growth of malicious exploitation, too.

This is the most common cause and effect story in the cybersecurity world – if something is popular, that popular thing will be targeted by multiple hacks, too. Thus, banking apps and mobile banking are now in the cybersecurity spotlight, and everyone should be aware of the potential threats associated with it.

In general, is online banking secure? Well, that depends on how much effort you put into making your account, devices, and apps safe. In this entry, we would like to draw your attention to the main online banking threats, and then an entire list of dos and don’ts that should help you secure your banking apps.

Major online banking threats

Anyone who is new to online banking might be easily targeted by app-based banking trojans and fake banking apps. Banking trojan is a malicious piece of program that slithers into your device and steals sensitive information. Needless to say, users are often unaware of how or when that happens, and this allows the malicious program to remain on the compromised device for a long time.

True to its name, a banking trojan pretends to be something it is not. When it comes to mobile malware, banking trojans usually get into the target device masquerading as some games or app tools. In other words, users are tricked into downloading malware, thinking they download and install legitimate programs.

What’s more, app-based banking trojans do not act up until you actually launch the banking app that this trojan is supposed to hack. When the trojan is triggered, it overtakes the login page to your app by overlaying it with its own, and once users enter their login credentials, the trojan redirects them back to the official login page, so it’s hard to figure out that your data was stolen.

Aside from app-based trojans, there are also fake banking apps that manage to impersonate legitimate apps and steal users’ credentials. It might seem that downloading apps from major stores should help you avoid these fake apps, but back in 2018, almost 65,000 fake apps were detected on big app stores. What’s more, the app store may not be able to remove all the fake apps immediately, so the responsibility to avoid malicious threats falls on the user’s shoulders.

How to avoid malicious apps

Since both app-based trojans and fake banking apps are essentially fake programs waiting for users to download them, it is essential that individual and corporate users are extra careful when they download new apps on mobile devices. Thus, you have to make sure that you get apps only from trusted sources. If you want to be sure that you obtain a legitimate online banking app, visit your bank’s website, and check out the mobile apps they offer at the bottom of the page. Downloading the app through the link on the official site will definitely allow you to avoid malicious exploitation.

Also, if possible, enable two-factor authentication on your apps. For the most part, all major services and their applications offer 2FA, and that’s clearly one of the best ways to secure your apps and accounts against malicious exploitation and unexpected hacks. What’s more, you can also choose to use biometric authentication to access your accounts through banking apps. That definitely adds additional level of security.

How to further enhance online banking security

Aside from the things you are supposed to do, there are also things you should never do if you want to keep your online banking app safe. First, you should never click links in text messages and emails that come from unknown party. Even if it looks that the message was sent from an official institution, you should still double-check with the said institution’s customer service.

What’s more, you should never give away your personal information and your passwords to anyone. Your bank would never ask to confirm such information over the phone, so if anyone is trying to lure your password out from you, cut them off immediately.

Speaking of passwords, good password practices are also vitally important. Cybercriminals could easily exploit common or insecure passwords, so you should never reuse yours. You probably know by now that a strong password should be at least 15 characters long, containing lower and upper-case letters, and special symbols. Add the fact that passwords should be regularly renewed and you get a pretty good challenge, especially if you have multiple accounts that have to be protected with strong passwords.

So, how do you ensure that each account has a strong and unique password, and that it is replaced regularly? One of the best ways to do that is to use Cyclonis Password Manager. This tool can easily generate strong and unique passwords, and it can even store them for you, so you don’t have to write them down anywhere.

To sum up, is online banking secure? It’s as secure as you make it. You are given all the tools by your service provider to employ safe online banking practices. If you are responsible and attentive, you should be able to avoid frauds and hacks. On the other hand, if you think that you have encountered a fake app, you should contact your bank immediately and tell them about it. The same goes for suspicious phone calls. As mentioned, your bank would never ask for your ID or password over the phone, so if anyone tries to make you give that information away, hang up the phone and inform your bank about the attempt.

By Foley
October 12, 2020
October 12, 2020

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