Banking apps have weaknesses, too
The experts just said that mobile banking apps tend to be safer than banking on a mobile browser.
But some studies of these new banking apps have found weaknesses. For instance, the security firm Praetorian found that 8 of 10 mobile banking apps contained security weaknesses, a report released in December says.
"They're failing to meet very basic security best practices," says Praetorian Vice President Paul Jauregui. He expects security to improve over time just as security improved over the years with online banking.
Jack Walsh, mobility programs manager at ICSA Labs, an independent division of Verizon, says apps could be less safe than banks and consumers think they are. For instance, a link within the app -- such as a link to current loan rates -- may not be encrypted, he says.
"Banks may not think they need to protect it, but a bad guy who is looking for a way in can inject some code in here," Walsh says. That code could prompt users to re-enter their passwords or other personal information, with users thinking they're still securely sharing their information with their bank when instead they're giving their data to hackers.
Walsh says banks should have their apps tested by independent third parties, but few institutions do.
Praetorian found that credit unions' banking apps tended to have more weaknesses than those of megabanks, which have more resources.