Gone are the days when you had to make a special trip to your local bank branch to make a deposit or transfer money from one account to another. With the proliferation of mobile apps today, you can manage all your banking and investing needs from the comfort of your home or any Wi-Fi-enabled remote location. However, with these conveniences come a host of digital security risks that can compromise your assets and your identity. Here are some tips to help ensure your safety while banking or investing from a mobile device.
Install Apps from Official Websites
Because bogus versions of your bank’s mobile apps may be found on third-party app stores, try to download the apps directly from your bank’s website. Alternatively, you can call your local banker or financial advisor to help you enroll in mobile services.
Check the App’s Permissions
Banks control most of the security features on their mobile apps. However, it is up to you to ensure that the app does not automatically have permission to access all your personal data stored on the phone, including your location, activity and account information. After downloading any app, check the privacy settings on your device and be sure to turn off tracking services, especially when you are not using a particular app.
Use Strong, Unique Passwords and a Password Manager
Cybersecurity experts recommend you use passwords with a minimum of eight characters that contain a combination of capital and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. Ideally, you should use a different password for each app to ensure that if criminals compromise one of your passwords, they cannot use it to access your other accounts. To help you keep track of all your passwords, use a password manager that can also generate unique passwords and provide you with instant access to your accounts with a simple fingerprint.
Enable Multi-Factor Authentication
Your password alone may not be enough to stop criminals from hacking into your phone or your banking accounts. Instead, when it is available, choose two-factor authentication to add a second layer of security to your password-protected accounts.
After entering your login credentials, a unique code will be sent to your mobile device to confirm your identity before allowing access to your account. This form of identity authentication is based on the premise that while thieves may be able to steal your username and password, it is highly unlikely they also would have access to your mobile phone to receive a security code or other confirmation to complete the login process.
Avoid Using Public Wi-Fi Networks
Despite the convenience of logging into your bank or investment accounts from any remote location at any time of the day, you should only do so when you are connected to a private and password-secured wireless network. Public Wi-Fi hotspots are not secure. Criminals can snoop on your activity and gain access to passwords, home addresses and account information. Alternatively, you can log in to your accounts using your device’s cellular data or mobile hotspot with the additional security of a virtual private network (VPN).
Update Device Software
Software updates are critical to the performance and security of your mobile devices. Each update addresses known security vulnerabilities and bugs that can expose you to various risks, including malware that can steal your personal information.
Diligently Review your Financial Accounts
Even if you do manage all your banking and investing needs via a mobile app, it is critical that you take the time to review your accounts on the web, check your monthly statements and keep a watchful eye for any suspicious activity.
About the Author: Brendan T. Hayes is a financial planner with Provenance Wealth Advisors (PWA), an Independent Registered Investment Advisor affiliated with Berkowitz Pollack Brant Advisors + CPAs and a registered representative with PWA Securities, LLC. He can be reached at the firm’s Fort Lauderdale, Fla., office at (954) 712-8888 or email@example.com.
Provenance Wealth Advisors (PWA), 200 E. Las Olas Blvd., 19th Floor, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33301 (954) 712-8888.
Brendan T. Hayes is a registered representative of and offers securities through PWA Securities, LLC, Member FINRA/SIPC.
This material is being provided for information purposes only and is not a complete description, nor is it a recommendation. The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct.
Any opinions are those of the advisors of Provenance Wealth Advisors and not necessarily those of PWA Securities, LLC. While we are familiar with the tax provisions of the issues presented herein, as Financial Advisors of PWAS, we are not qualified to render advice on tax or legal matters. You should discuss any tax or legal matters with the appropriate professional. Prior to making any investment decision, please consult with your financial advisor about your individual situation.
Updated October 16, 2023