What is Mobile Banking? Is it Safe?

Mobile banking (mBanking) or text (SMS) banking refers to online banking that occurs via mobile phone rather than via a PC (online banking). The earliest mobile banking services were offered over SMS, but with the introduction of smartphones and the Apple iOS and Google Android operating systems, mobile banking is now primarily offered through applications as opposed to through text messages or even a mobile browser.

Mobile banking allows you to review transactions, transfer funds, pay bills and check account balances via your mobile device. MBanking also offers enhanced security with SMS transaction notifications and the ability to turn card accounts on or off; the development of new technologies like mobile check deposit (where you simply take a picture of the check using your smartphone’s built-in camera) is contributing to the increasing popularity of mobile banking. Eventually, mobile phones may even replace automated teller machines (ATMs) and credit cards.

However, studies show that many Americans are still uncomfortable with mobile banking, citing security as a top concern. According to Javelin Strategy and Research, “Between 2009 and 2010, the number of consumers who rated mobile banking as ‘unsafe’ or ‘very unsafe’ increased by a shocking 54 percent.”

While banks are working to do their part, users have to take additional steps to make sure their mobile data is protected. Here are some tips for mobile bankers of all ages to help keep you safe while banking on the go:

  • Download your bank’s mobile application so you can be sure you are visiting the real bank every time and not a copycat site.
  • Connect to your bank’s mobile site or app securely by making sure that your wireless network is secure.
  • Never send sensitive information over an unsecured wireless network, such as in a hotel or cafe. Use a virtual private network software that protects your identity by ensuring that all web transactions (shopping, filling out forms, downloads) are secured through HTTPS. My favorite, Hotspot Shield VPN software, has been downloaded over 120million times.
  • If available, use additional layers of authentication in which the account holder authorizes various transactions via text message or phone calls with the bank to give an additional code.
  • Configure your device to auto-lock after a short period of nonuse.
  • Don’t store data you can’t afford to lose on an insecure device.
  • Use mobile security protection that offers multiple layers of protection including anti-theft, antivirus, antispyware, anti-phishing and app protection.

Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to Hotspot Shield VPN. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen See him discussing internet and wireless security on Good Morning America. Disclosures.