How to protect yourself when using banking apps

Posted on August 15th, 2014

How to protect yourself when using banking apps

More and more consumers are taking advantage of mobile banking apps to check their balances, deposit checks, pay bills and, most importantly, to avoid a trip to their local bank branch or ATM. But as they become more popular, the opportunities for cyber thieves to hack into your personal and financial information has also increased

First National Bank’s head of bank apps, Giuseppe Virgillito says that even though they haven’t seen any problems with the banking apps in South Africa, it is possible, particularly when it comes to those apps developed using Android, as it is open source software.

While the banks are taking steps to ensure their own apps are robust, Virgillito suggests these 5 steps consumers can take to protect themselves:

  1. Always be on guard against cyber-attack. Just like with laptops, logging onto an unsecured Wi-Fi connection isn’t very sensible, especially if you’re going to be working with sensitive information.
  2. Be careful what content you download and what sites you access from your device.
  3. Don’t download apps from third party sites – stick to Apple, Google Play or the device manufacturer – Samsung’s app store for instance.
  4. Make sure you always have an up-to-date version of the operating system on your phone. The same goes for the banking app.
  5. Don’t jailbreak your device – The term jailbreak means to override your smartphone’s security settings, allowing  access to your phone’s operating system’s file system and manager. While this may allow users to download applications that are not approved by Apple, Google or the handset manufacturer, they do open up you phone to serious risk.