Protecting Yourself in Mobile Banking
As mobile banking becomes more popular in the United States, so do concerns about the safety and security of mobile financial transactions. Financial institutions offering mobile banking want to ensure customer transactions are safe, so most duplicate the same types of password security (such as pairing a password with a phrase known only to the account holder) found on Web-based banking systems.
In addition, mobile banking transactions are encrypted to reduce the odds of over-the-air interception or other forms of unauthorized account access.
While consumers enjoy the convenience of checking balances or making payments on their wireless handsets, it's also important to make sure that convenience doesn't overtake common sense precautions about security threats that could compromise your accounts:
- Guard Your Password The first, and perhaps most important security consideration, is making sure your mobile banking account requires a strong password. Consumers without physical or on-screen keyboards may be tempted to use shorter passwords than they might with Web-based banking. But because your mobile and online accounts are going to share the same password, using a weaker password can dilute the overall security of your account.
- To protect your account, it's important to avoid using common passwords such as "password," "123456," or other common words. Security researchers suggest combining upper and lowercase letters and numbers to create uncommon words that can defeat casual guessing attempts.
- Monitor Your Connection Generally speaking, because a mobile banking transaction takes place over your wireless carrier's network, it is more secure than a transaction taking place over a Wi-Fi connection. That being said, it's important to look for a padlock symbol on your cell phone screen to make sure your connection is secure and that you've reached your bank's servers.
- Apps Can Be Safer A dedicated mobile banking application includes security software and can provide a safer connection than accessing your account via the mobile Web. Because the software is provided by the bank, your transaction takes place within the bank's security infrastructure.
- What If You Lose Your Phone One of the most common security considerations is what could happen to your account is what happens if your phone is lost or stolen. Your phone won't be able to store your password, so if you lose your handset, criminals won't be able to access your account. If you let your bank know your phone has been lost or stolen, it can disable mobile account access until you replace your handset.
- Text Messages can provide another safe alternative because each message, by itself, does not contain enough information to compromise your account if it is intercepted.
- Decline Unauthorized Connections A message or connection attempt you didn't expect could be an attempt to send a malicious program to your wireless device. The risk of this happening is remote, but consumers should be aware that attempts have been made to compromise cellphones remotely. When it doubt, decline the connection.
With these routine security precautions in mind, you can enjoy the convenience of mobile banking while reducing many of the potential information and financial risks.