Online Banking Vulnerabilities Explained

In a new report just released earlier this month, the security firm Positive Technologies shows that 67 percent of web applications tested contain a variety of critical security weaknesses. 19 percent of these security holes not only allow an attacker to gain access, they allow full control over not just the server but the operating system as well. Meaning the entire corporate network could be jeopardized. And ultimately, you.

As Leigh Anne Galloway, Cyber Security Resilience Lead for Positive Technologies states, “Small businesses, banks, and major industrial concerns all depend on web applications…”

What’s even scarier than the above numbers is the fact that things are getting worse instead of better. Security vulnerabilities tripled from 2017 to 2018.

How secure is your bank? How secure is mine? You can be sure they’re telling us we’re safe, but do you trust the word of corporate America when it comes to their bottom line? I sure don’t!

Banking in Person, Online, or Mobile

Except for seniors and business people that need to make cash deposits, I don’t know anyone who actually goes to the brick and mortar bank. Pay is Direct Deposited, checks can be scanned and deposited online, and you can use various eTransfer methods to pay bills or give friends and family members money.

A new report states that as of 2019 mobile banking will overtake online banking. That’s a lot of money changing hands in cyberspace.

How to Protect Yourself When Doing Your Banking Online or with Mobile

Let’s get your security in place first and then talk about the actual technical threats surrounding online banking.

Use a VPN. Your first, and likely your best countermeasure when it comes to security issues is to use a VPN. The best part of this is a VPN will protect you whatever you’re doing online, whether that’s banking or downloading a movie.  And if you’re thinking this is going to cost you, don’t worry. If you just want a free VPN, there are several excellent options to choose from.

Using a VPN will help to protect you when you use public Wi-Fi to do your banking—which you should never do, by the way—and when you use mobile apps to access your online banking. Since it seems mobile banking is the wave of the future, make sure you’re one of the smart ones who do all they can to protect their money.

Antivirus and Malware Protection. iOS or Android, make sure you have a good antivirus on your phone that can and will protect you from malware. Don’t be dumb and believe what you hear about iOS not needing any sort of protection. It’s just not true.

Mobile malware is real and rootkits are being injected into people’s phone via unsafe apps. Once it’s on your phone, and you’re not at least periodically scanning your device for malware threats, the next time you do some banking, someone may be watching and collecting sensitive data.

Third Party Apps. Just be careful. I’m not going to imply that all apps are dangerous because they’re not. However, developers aren’t perfect and hackers are always coming up with new and ingenious methods to do you harm. Other apps are created with a clear intent to do you harm. As an end-user, how are you to know? So as mentioned above, it’s imperative to have whatever security you can on your mobile device if you use it for banking or any other sensitive work.

Unsecured Wi-Fi. Free Wi-Fi is not an awesome gift. It’s incredibly dangerous to use. If you have a good data plan, always opt for using it, otherwise wait to do your banking until you’re back on a secure network.

When you log into an unsecured network—which is what you’re doing when you use free WI-Fi—your device is potentially open to anyone else connected to the network. Without you being aware of it, every site you visit, every time you key in a password, someone could be snooping. Never, ever, ever do your banking while on an unsecured, free network.

User Behavior. If you get emails or text messages that contain links, don’t open them. Even if it really looks like it’s from your bank or your long-lost uncle. It could be a phishing attempt.

A few of the above-mentioned vulnerabilities that face online or mobile banking could be solved with the use of one thing. The VPN mentioned above. The others can be dealt with using an antivirus. Before you log into your bank from a browser or app again, make sure you have both forms of protection installed and up-to-date.