Per a 2017 survey commissioned by the American Bankers Association, two-thirds of Americans use mobile or online banking as the primary means of accessing their accounts, leaning heavily on smartphones and computers to pull up their bank information. Not surprisingly, perhaps, both devices are popular targets for online fraudsters itching to pilfer people’s personal data.
Can one of these devices better protect you from fraud than the other?
According to some data-protection experts, banking with a smartphone via an official mobile app provides more security than a computer. That’s because computers make it easier for users to inadvertently download malware.
How does that happen? Malware keylogger programs might be secretly installed on your computer as part of a download from a non-secure webpage. These programs record keystrokes when you enter your username and password on a bank site, then send that information to a hacker.
With mobile apps, users must manually agree to downloads from the device’s approved app store. That makes it harder to mistakenly download malicious programs that can spy on you while you’re banking.
Some advice: Avoid logging in to your bank account using public WiFi. You don’t know who has access to the network and whether they can view data that is sent. Using a cellular network is generally a better choice, and a secure, private network – ideally, your own home network – is better still. Also, use the bank’s official mobile app, rather than your phone’s mobile browser. There will be less chance of navigating to a fake bank site, where hackers trick you into submitting your passwords and other personal info – a scheme otherwise known as “phishing.”
If using a smartphone for your banking needs, always remember the safety basics:
- Use a screen lock – others won’t be able to access your data if your device is stolen
- Avoid using public WiFi while accessing accounts online
- Stay up to date with software and security releases