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#263Tech: How Do You Know If Your Mobile Banking App Is Secure?

Hundreds of financial and personal banking apps are now available on the Apple App Store, the Android Market and BlackBerry App World. Some are created and distributed by individual banks and almost all our banks in Zim have mobile apps now.

The most popular in our local banking sector include the CBZ Touch and Steward Bank’s Square. Due to the long queues caused by the ongoing cash crisis, the mobile banking apps have been received well by the banking community due to convenience offered especially for personal banking.

But we cannot forget that we are living in world with a very compromised Cyberspace where online hackers are always ready to pounce into your bank account once a loophole arises. How safe are these mobile banking applications??  

The greater advantage is that these apps are designed to help users manage bank accounts, loans and investments across multiple financial institutions. But how secure are your transactions on these mobile banking apps?? The security risks associated with mobile banking applications fall into the following three general categories:

  • The data you save. If your phone (or a banking app on your phone) stores personal information such as passwords, account numbers or transaction histories, your data could become accessible to someone who finds or steals your phone. Likewise, e-mails and text messages that you exchange with a financial institution (or even with your spouse) and store on your phone may contain account numbers or other sensitive information.
  • The data you send. If you connect to your financial institution over an unsecured or public Wi-Fi network (such as one in the airport or coffee shop), it’s possible for a third party to intercept your personal financial data. Banking apps with insufficient encryption can also leave you vulnerable to identity theft.
  • The applications you choose. The description in the App Store or Android Market might sound like just what you’re looking for, but what do you know about its source? While new apps are supposedly tested for usability and screened for malicious software before they are added to the iPhone App Store, the Apple iOS has proven vulnerable to security hacks in the past, and the Android Market leaves it up to users to test and review applications [source: Hernandez].
  • The risk is that unscrupulous application developers could trick users into downloading bogus banking apps — or even games and other non-banking apps — containing malware that places personal data directly in the hands of identity thieves. Alternatively, a user could become an unwitting beta tester for a well-meaning but inexperienced developer who’s still working out the security flaws in his first-ever banking application.
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But don’t give up on mobile banking just yet. Banks have a clear incentive to make their mobile applications as safe as possible, and despite the risks, there are specific steps you can take to ensure the security of your personal information.

The Battle For Relevance Continues………!! 

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Written by

Shingie Lev Muringi is a Technology Analyst & Digital Media Strategist by profession. He is a qualified Cisco Certified Network Engineer & a BTech. E-Commerce alumni with the Harare Institute of Technology. Shingie is a very passionate technology enthusiast who is driven by a burning desire to be a leading strategist in this digital revolution era where every organization needs to impress the paradigm shift with urgency. He has previously worked for TN Holdings, Steward Bank, Econet Wireless - Ecocash and TechnoMag before joining 263Chat as a Journalist

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