Banking on your phone opens up a whole new world of convenience — as well as a new world of risks. Nowadays, you don’t have to drive down to your local bank branch to make a deposit. Instead, you can bank from the comfort of your home.
These apps are easy, both for you and potential hackers. All a cybercriminal needs is a little bit of hacking know-how and a target with a weak password. Tap or click here for the worst 20 passwords people use.
Anyone who breaks into your phone could crack open your banking apps and drain your account. That’s why you should be careful and set up robust security systems. Follow these steps to protect your cash.
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You take on a big risk by banking on your phone
When it comes down to it, banking on your phone can only be safe if you use proper protection. There are a few essential safeguards you must set up on both your device and any financial accounts you use.
1. Make sure your smartphone has a PIN or password set
You need to password-protect your phone. We get that it’s an extra step that can be annoying if you’re in a rush, but it’s worth the time. You want to make hacking as difficult as possible, and not using a password is the same as practically handing your phone away.
It’s easy to set up a PIN code. You can make it something easy, like the day your favorite movie came out. Then again, if you’re having trouble coming up with a sequence of numbers, you can just use your fingerprint.
We recommend using more than one security feature on your device. Even if you set up two-factor authentication, someone could steal your service. SIM hijacking isn’t nearly as rare as we’d like.
That’s why you should have a PIN and a biometric feature like Face ID or a fingerprint reader, depending on your brand of phone.
How to use biometrics for iOS
- Open Settings.
- Tap Face ID & Passcode. Or Touch ID & Passcode if you have an older iPhone that doesn’t support Face ID.
- Tap Add a Fingerprint.
Follow the onscreen instructions for a new way to unlock your phone.
How to use biometrics for Android
- Head to Settings.
- Tap Lock screen and security.
- Select Screen lock type.
- Add your fingerprint.
This is just the first step, though. There’s a lot more you need to do.
2. Keep phones updated with the latest security patches
Even the best software can come with security flaws. Rigorous testing could leave vulnerabilities that hackers exploit to take over your device. That’s why security experts work long and hard to patch up flaws.
They release their hard work in the form of software updates. If you want to protect your device, don’t miss out on these updates. Otherwise, you could leave yourself open to all sorts of attacks.
Case in point: Millions of people still use Windows 7, even though there aren’t new security patches for it. Without knowing it, they’re putting themselves in danger. By not updating its system, one water facility allowed a stranger to poison a city’s water supply.
This applies to your phone, too. Keep your iPhone and Android updated. Otherwise, you could allow strangers to poison your digital life.
3. Don’t fall for a fake
Hackers love impersonating trusted businesses. You’ll find all sorts of websites and apps that are just one letter off the proper bank name. Tap or click here for ways to spot dangerous fake apps.
That leads you to a fake site that looks just like the real deal. You input your username and password, thinking everything is all fine and dandy and wham! Your banking account is compromised.
You’ll see the same tricks on the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store. One band of criminals impersonated WhatsApp, tweaking their developer ID to resemble the official social media company.
They called themselves “WhatsApp Inc.,” adding a tiny Unicode character space after their ID. This hard-to-spot trick fooled over a million people into downloading it.
Don’t be fooled. Tap or click here for ways to spot dangerous fake apps.
4. Use these features on your banking apps
Whenever you download a financial app, make sure you enable the highest level of account security, including two-factor authentication. Tap or click here to find out why this tiny step makes a huge difference.
However, that shouldn’t be all. You should also use new, unique passwords for every financial account. So if you have both Robinhood and Yahoo Finance, use different codes for each.
Oh, and make sure those passwords are strong. Earlier, you learned what weak passwords to avoid. Here is how to create an ironclad code.
5. Set up notifications
We get it: Notifications can be annoying. They can distract you from your work and clutter up your phone screen. We’re not recommending turning on all notifications — just this important one.
Set up banking alerts, so you’re notified of any potential fraud immediately. Your online bank account should give you the freedom to set up specific notifications, too. For instance, whenever there is a withdrawal of over $500, tell your bank to send an alert.
This way, you can catch bank fraud before your financial security is devastated. We also recommend running credit and checking account checks now and then. Tap or click here to run a free credit report.
Running these reports can help you stay on top of your bank account activity. You can spot any purchases you didn’t make and alert your bank. Tap or click here to find out if someone opened a bank account in your name.
6. Always use a secure Wi-Fi network
If you’re conducting any business using the phone app, make sure you’re on a secure Wi-Fi network. Avoid unsecured public networks at all costs. That’s because they have notoriously lax security that makes hacking easy as pie.
Since anyone can use them at any time, you might stumble across an opportunistic hacker. Don’t forget about carefully placed malware, either. Tap or click here to ditch shady public Wi-Fi and safely connect to the internet.
Bonus: Protect your gadgets with antivirus protection that just plain works
The more we rely on our devices for work, school and our personal lives, the more we have to lose. Whether it’s bank accounts, personal data, photos or conversations, there’s just so much to preserve and protect. That’s why Kim recommends TotalAV.
TotalAV’s industry-leading security suite is easy to use and offers the best protection in the business. In fact, they’ve received the renowned VB100 award for detecting more than 99% of malware samples for the last three years in a row. And not only do you get continuous protection from the latest threats, but their AI-driven Web Shield browser extension blocks dangerous websites automatically, and their Junk Cleaner can help you quickly clear out your old files.