Protecting Your Financial Apps From Being Hacked

There are things you can do to prevent your personal information from becoming compromised.

Provided by Angel McCall CFP®

No doubt about it, Smart Phones have completely changed the experience of banking and accessing your financial information. The ability to make transactions from your phone has made banking much easier and convenient, but it does come with a higher risk of your financial data being stolen. There are things you can do to protect yourself, and decrease the likelihood of your personal information being leaked.

Overall, the apps created by financial institutions are very secure. In 2015, only 71 of 781 hacks were bank related, but bank hacks are on the rise, with their frequency increasing at a rate of 50% per year. Established financial companies spend a lot of money making sure their apps are not vulnerable to security breaches. These companies hire “white-hat hackers” (ethical hackers) to break into their sites and identify any security liabilities. However, hacks on financial institutions do happen, and it did happen to JP Morgan Chase. The data of 83 million customers was compromised.

A hacker can gain access to the personal data of thousands by breaking into just one company. So how can you keep yourself safe? First of all, be sure to read the app’s fine print policies to get a sense of how they manage security. The company should state their security certifications. For example, all bank apps should have a PCI certification. Other companies may be certified by the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council, or the TRUSTe Privacy Seal Program. This means that the certified company has prioritized their cyber security and meets certain standards of safety.

After you have created an account with a financial app, be aware that some hackers will try to impersonate a trusted financial company, and ask you via email to click through to a link that asks for your login information. This is called “phishing,” and a lot of people fall for it. Never give your personal information to someone claiming to be your bank, unless you initiated contact. It is also wise to have a different password for your financial apps. If a hacker steals your password from a non-financial site, they can use that same login information for financial apps.

Don’t use your financial apps on public WIFI, like in your coffee shop or library. If a hacker breaks into the WIFI network, they can track the sites you visit and any information you input, giving them access to your website/app logins. Be sure to keep your apps and software up to date, as these updates often include security updates. Last but not least, you can sign up for alerts for each time a financial transaction is made from your account. This will help you discover fraudulent activity immediately.

Banking through online apps is still considered relatively safe, but using the advice above will help keep your account secure, and dramatically reduce the risk of your personal information being stolen.

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