Security Threats of Mobile Banking

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  • Topic: Mobile phone, Mobile banking, GSM
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  • Published : April 3, 2011
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Security Threats of Mobile Banking

Student ID: TP023353

The evolution of technology over the past few years has been part of a phenomenal experience in our everyday lives. Today, more and more people rely on getting things done faster and quicker, with the help of technology. Take banking for instance, the traditional way was having to go to the bank for even the smallest transactions like sending money, checking your balance and so on. Then came the era of Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs), which can be used to carry out simple banking transactions. From then on, Internet banking was introduced in the early 1980s, and by the year 2000, around 13.7% of households had signed up for online banking accounts, just in America (Ann Lomena, Joy Ried, Dec 2000).

Today the new innovation in the banking sector is all about Mobile Banking. With the rapid increase in mobile applications development, as well the increase in use of ‘smart phones’, more and more people are comfortable with viewing their account balance information and transactions history on their mobile phones. According to Celent, 2007, 73% of consumers would want to use their mobile phones to view their bank account details.

As good as Mobile Banking sounds in terms of getting faster and easier access to banking services from any location, the idea of mobile banking also brings along some security issues regarding safe transmission of information. Just like the old saying that goes, “every coin has two sides”, mobile banking also has its disadvantages despite how excellent and convenient the technology might seem to be.

Pros and Cons of Mobile Banking

The most popular mobile banking services provided by major banks include: account alerts and reminders, account balances, updates and history, customer service, information on locations of ATMs or branches of the bank and bill payments; for instance people can now pay their utility bills like water and electricity bills via a mobile phone. Safaricom and Zain mobile companies in Kenya also provide a service by which subscribers can send money from one organization or individual to another. This makes it easier and expedient for users to pay their bills, or send money across to other accounts. Most of the banking in this case is carried out via the SMS service, which is good and reliable, however not very secure.

Other services are provided via a bank’s WAP site, which is rendered on a mobile phone, through which a user can access his account. The advantages of using a WAP site for mobile banking are easy-to-use and understandable user interfaces, and often offer a secure connection between the mobile handset and the banking website. On the other hand, these services may only be available and in working condition on particular types of handsets only, and sometimes they may only be accessible on some mobile browsers and not others.

Based on the arguments stated above, Mobile Banking is proven to be more economical and convenient to both the banks as well as its consumers; however it is also significant to look at some of the security threats that this technology comes along with.

Potential Security Threats Related to Mobile Banking

The most well-known security breach known today is phishing. Many of the huge multinational IT Security organizations are fighting to deal with this problem, but there always seems to be a loophole somewhere in the systems that hackers identify and get into. Phishing can be defined as the act of tricking users into disclosing personal and sensitive information (Mobile Banking Overview, Mobile Marketing Association, Jan 2009).

Another threat is the existence of Malware, which is malicious code that can be downloaded unintentionally onto the mobile phone as a worm or a virus. These kinds of codes are used to collect personal data like names, addresses, passwords, and this case, bank account details. Hijacking is also a risk to be considered when...
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