3 Safeguards Against Malicious Apps That Steal Banking Data

malicious software
Photo by Adha Ghazali / Shutterstock.com

If you use so much as a single banking app, beware: Sophisticated malicious software may be after your bank log-in credentials.

Multiple cybersecurity companies have recently reported increases in such malware, with Android devices at especially high risk.

The threat

Mobile expert Gagan Singh of the cybersecurity software company Avast notes:

“We are seeing a steady increase in the number of malicious applications for Android devices that are able to bypass security checks on popular app stores and make their way onto consumers’ phones.”

Last autumn, Avast identified new malicious software called “BankBot.”

Once a smartphone user is tricked into downloading the malware, it exploits the apps of large banks. So, if a smartphone user opens such a banking app, BankBot “would create a fake overlay on top of the genuine app with the goal of collecting the customer’s banking details and sending them on to the attacker,” Avast says.

Another cybersecurity software company, Lookout, describes another malware strain similarly:

BancaMarStealer lures victims into unknowingly entering their credentials by displaying legitimate-looking overlays that are carefully designed to imitate the login portal of a victim’s bank or other targeted service.

BancaMarStealer has been around for several years but is strengthening and spreading.

BancaMarStealer and BankBot aren’t alone.

Avast reports that it has detected multiple strains of mobile banking malware in recent months.

Meanwhile, based on an analysis of 30,000 mobile devices, Lookout reports that 10 percent of mobile banking customers had encountered some sort of mobile threat or risk over the course of a year.

Preventative measures

To protect your financial accounts, experts recommend that you:

  • Use strong antivirus software. Money Talks News vice president and tech guru Dan Schointuch says anti-virus apps are a good idea for Android devices. (Apple has better security safeguards for apps, so you don’t really need additional anti-virus protection.) For folks with Android devices, Dan suggests reading the antivirus software reviews by AT-Test Institute.
  • Ensure that any banking app you use is the verified version. You can confirm this with the bank’s customer service department, Avast says.
  • Use two-factor authentication when it’s available. We detail this security measure in “7 Ways to Guard Your Wallet — and Identity — When Shopping Online.”

For more tips, check out “7 Ways You May Be Sabotaging Your Bank Accounts.”

What’s your take on this news? Share your thoughts below or on Facebook.

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