Mobile Banking, Does it Create More Problems? Quest for Convenience Puts Security At Risk

For many Americans, multitasking is a central component of life. In fact, the drive to multitask is in some cases so overwhelming that laws limiting multitasking – texting while driving, for example – are necessary to protect people. Leading

the surge in multitasking are cell phones, as the devices act as enablers by allowing users to surf the internet, watch videos, listen to music, play games, send text messages and e-mails and make phone calls any time, anywhere. And now that smart phones have reached widespread popularity, many companies are embracing the technology by creating applications to entertain or provide services to consumers.

And while swiping your phone at the register to pay,

using your phone to enter a sporting event or movie, checking in to receive discounts at retail locations and transferring funds to your bank

account can be convenient, there are potential downsides. Putting your financial identity in the palm of your hand with money management and banking applications makes your phone a target for thieves and hackers. Unfortunately, all of the security measures you and your financial institutions may have in place – locked vaults, bullet-proof glass, etc – become irrelevant if your phone is compromised.

According to Lookout Mobile Security, up to one million users of Android-based smart phones fell victim to malware in the first six months of 2011, and hackers are increasingly targeting iOS users as well. But malware isn’t the only way your mobile security can be breached. Exploiting access avenues in browsers, applications, wireless networks and even text and picture messages can allow hackers to compromise your information and even remotely control your phone. Of course, old-school (by comparison) physical theft or loss is also a very real threat.

So who is protecting consumers? Good question. Malicious programmers have succeeded in slipping malware into official and third-party application markets, through the application itself or in code for application updates. Many public wi-fi network providers also lack the sophisticated security appropriate for their networks, which are enticing targets for thieves and hackers.

To make matters worse, developers also make it difficult for consumers to protect themselves. With applications as simple as Facebook games requiring 24/7 access to your hard drive and personal information, a disturbingly insecure standard has been set.  In addition exercising common sense and caution when browsing the web or downloading applications, avoiding insecure websites and wi-fi connections, installing mobile security apps and avoiding third-party app markets and developers can help keep you safe.

Of course, if you’re really old fashioned, you can just resist the urge to make your phone a one-stop shop for hackers and stick to banking at the bank itself.


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