|PC vs. MOBILE SECURITY: Hidden risks in mobile banking raising concerns|
A new survey reveals that while mobile banking apps are growing quickly in popularity, 68% of smartphone owners who have not yet adopted these apps are holding back due to security fears, while 12% believe that the effort of downloading and installing such apps doesn't justify the convenience. By contrast, only 14% of those surveyed said that security concerns were preventing them from using PC-based online banking. The survey was conducted by Metaforic, a company producing a "software immune system."
These consumers could be right to worry. Juniper Research finds that Android malware is up more than 3,325%, and another study shows 92% of the top iPhone apps have been compromised, indicating that the mobile environment is potentially more dangerous than the classic PC environment.
Even with password protection, an app can still potentially be compromised via repackaging, targeted attacks via drive-by downloads, man-in-the-middle attacks, keyloggers, and more. In addition, most consumers do not run any extra security processes on their smartphones, such as antivirus protection. Even if they do, a recent study shows that these mobile protections catch only 20-80% [NCSU-DSC] of such infections, compared to worst case 90% protection on the PC [AV-TEST].
"As the convenience of smartphones fuels the surging popularity of mobile banking apps, it's clear that the average user may not understand the risks involved, and is not taking the security steps needed to protect their mobile devices," says Dan Stickel, CEO of Metaforic. "Unless mobile apps are immunized against unwanted modifications, both users and banks face potentially staggering financial risks. It's just a matter of time until a major breach occurs."
In fact, Gartner has now reported the first publicly announced banking app losses, and it seems likely that compromises will rise along with the popularity and capabilities of these mobile apps. In June, McAfee reported more than $78 million stolen via automated back-end servers targeting people's online accounts and this is just the tip of the iceberg.
In Metaforic's report, Mobile Banking, Consumer Security Practices and the Growing Risk to Banks, the company surveyed more than 1,000 adult smartphone users to explore the use of mobile banking and financial apps, while also assessing the type and strength of security measures consumers are implementing to prevent losses. A full 19% of Metaforic's survey responders indicated that they had personally suffered a mobile security breach or they knew someone who had.
[This article was posted on October 5, 2012, on the website of ABA Banking Journal, www.ababj.com.]
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