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04:59 PM
Gary McIlraith, NetNames
Gary McIlraith, NetNames
Commentary
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How to Ensure Mobile Banking App Security

Online malware is starting to make its way to the mobile world and banks will have to be increasingly proactive in protecting their customer-facing apps.

From our vantage point, there’s little doubt that mobile apps have become the newest area of extreme vulnerability for financial organizations, leaving them exposed to fraud, security breaches, and other acts of piracy. With users moving in droves from PCs and laptops to smartphones, it is inevitable that malware will migrate to the new device of choice, and in rapid succession. The stats bear this out: for example, RSA detected 350,000 malicious Android app samples in 2012, up from just 1,000 in 2011. Banking trojans found on the desktop have morphed to mobile attack mode: the Citadel trojan, one of the fiercest banking attacks online, was modified to become CitMO (Citadel-in-the-Mobile), a worm that can install itself on Android devices and intercept one-time passwords and authentication messages sent by a bank to a mobile device.

Fraud, IP infringement, brand misuse, and copyright abuse are thriving in app marketplaces, which are less transparent than the Internet, challenging to comprehensively search and require special capabilities to do so. Mobile’s smaller screen size and slower download times add to the opacity. In short, it’s much easier to miss the bad app in the barrel.

[See Related: Consumers Looking for Convenience In Mobile Security Measures]

There is an inverse relationship between security and accessibility. To make something ultra-secure you have to make it pretty much inaccessible. This is why Apple’s mobile platform is widely considered more secure than Android’s. Apple’s iOS opts for a closed operating system and a walled garden App Store, versus an open operating system and web-based app marketplace. If a castle is a paradigm for security, now think how you further secure it with a moat; now consider that same castle and moat at the top of a mountain -- more secure, less accessible. The same is true of IT security. Mobile devices have provided that level of accessibility. Users have access to everything, all of the time. This often means putting rapid access and slick delivery ahead of security, with app development often falling prey to this mindset.

In general, mobile provides a more casual computing environment. Devices are often used on the go, encouraging a relaxed state of mind that may prevent users being properly alert to security concerns. The necessity of making mobile devices easy to use has produced the reaction of creating greater difficulty in performing basic tasks that may be commonplace on desktop computers, such as spotting fraudulent emails or phishing attempts – for example, it’s harder to view specific URLs in email applications and analyze web pages in mobile browsers. Additionally, consumers are usually less aware of mobile device security options and general best practice security hygiene.

The Android operating system in particular is frequently exploited by malware designed to harvest credentials, keylog, and capture other information vital to a bank’s security and credibility. Symantec recently profiled a piece of malware called Andorat, which is able to bundle itself, undetected, with any legitimate app and install without the user’s knowledge, allowing a hacker full remote control of an Android device. A different type of Android malware was inadvertently downloaded nearly nine million times from the official Google Play store, sending phone numbers and personal information to command and control servers every four hours.

It is therefore the new imperative for financial services organizations to monitor all app marketplaces for those apps that open them up to fraud and security breaches – and remove them efficiently and quickly once located. Protecting a financial institution’s brand and customers’ security on mobile app stores requires vigilance, and the ability to delve into the furthest corners of this rapidly expanding world. The solution lies in monitoring, detecting, enforcing, and being responsive to the rapid changes taking place in the mobile landscape – making it possible to respond in real time.

Gary McIlraith, CEO of NetNames, the world’s largest corporate brand protection specialists, is a leading authority on mobile and online piracy issues. He can be reached at Gary.McIlraith@NetNames.com.

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astoria0128
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astoria0128,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/22/2014 | 11:54:32 AM
re: How to Ensure Mobile Banking App Security
To make something ultra-secure you need to test your app from various aspects.
pjauregui
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pjauregui,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/12/2013 | 3:58:52 PM
re: How to Ensure Mobile Banking App Security
Mobile developers also need to play their part by building and maintaining secure mobile banking apps.

Results from a recent study reveal that 8 out of 10 mobile banking apps contain build and configuration setting weaknesses. While the issues identified are merely informational in terms of risk, they do provide insight into the state of mobile development practices among leading megabanks, regional banks, and credit unionsGă÷in short, basic security best practices are not being followed.

Download full report: http://www.praetorian.com/prom...
Kelly22
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Kelly22,
User Rank: Author
12/11/2013 | 4:40:00 PM
re: How to Ensure Mobile Banking App Security
Given the prevalence of smartphones, it doesn't surprise me that malware has increased. While I'm still hesitant to use mobile banking for security reasons, I do agree that people are less cautious with phone security than laptop/PC security. Still surprises me when people don't have passcodes on their phones.
FIStech2013
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FIStech2013,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/11/2013 | 4:27:32 PM
re: How to Ensure Mobile Banking App Security
the increase in mobile malware is alarming. the increase is many times greater than the threats that are seen in online. And users are really bad a securing their phones. yikes.
AmandaMartin
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AmandaMartin,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/11/2013 | 11:06:15 AM
re: How to Ensure Mobile Banking App Security
Well security is the today's priority..What ever you are using..It doesn't matter but it should be protected by all means.. Google apps security the favorable one !!!
Byurcan
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Byurcan,
User Rank: Author
10/25/2013 | 12:57:54 PM
re: How to Ensure Mobile Banking App Security
Even though mobile banking apps (and mobile apps in general) have been widely used by the general public for several years now, I don't think many people consider the security concerns associated with them. Study after study show that majority of people don't take the same security precautions with their mobile phone as they do with a PC or laptop.
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