It has been couple of years since COVID-19 brought the world to a standstill. While countries are opening their borders for business and tourism, it wasn’t long ago that the world shut itself up in a cocoon. The pandemic brought a lot of good when the going was bad. The good was brewing in the human mind – innovation! Businesses and large enterprises have found new ways to engage, employees have found ways to be efficient and productive, and consumers have found creative ways to purchase and consume.
In the pandemic, the consumer was wary about touching soiled currency notes, the interactive screen at the ATM, or share their credit/debit cards to make that necessary purchase. These are all high touch points in a daily life. The only way to overcome these challenges was through usage of mobile apps. Mobile apps provided us with the convenience of booking a taxi, ordering food or make payments without making physical contact with a third person.
Like it is in any business, with every advantage comes the corresponding disadvantage. The use of banking and financial mobile apps was always certain to grow but, in the pandemic, it grew much faster than anticipated. No one expected the number of users accessing digital services would grow so fast, so soon and so exponentially high. With such high usage in digital payments also came the threat in the form of malicious actors or more commonly known as, hackers!
Banks, wallet payments firms or any enterprise with a consumer facing mobile app need to protect their apps from the threat vectors emanating from their consumers devices. Similarly, the consumer must be equally responsible for their own data and privacy. The hackers are looking for ways and means to steal credentials, data, create fraud, take over accounts, change the behaviors of the apps, etc., all of which amount to huge losses to the business and the consumer alike. Hackers have access to very sophisticated tools to ‘mix and match’ their attacks. A lot of compromises to the consumer devices happen through sophisticated malware, screen overlay attacks, advanced jail break or rooting techniques, root enablers and reverse engineering.
There have been many instances of hacks and compromises across the world in the recent past and it will continue to make headlines. Most recently, the OCBC bank SMS scam in Singapore lead to huge losses to account holders and the bank was penalized heavily by the regulators. So, what can we do as consumers to keep ourselves safe?
It is a healthy practice to not only keep your mobile devices clean and safe but also be cautious about your surroundings. Some of the basic hygiene that you can follow is as below:
Some of the basic hygiene that you can follow is as below:
- To begin, don’t click on the links that come as text messages (or email) on any of your messaging platforms, especially when it is from an unknown source. This is the biggest reason for phishing attacks. Phishing scams look so real that you end up thinking its genuine.
- Similarly, be wary of vishing attacks, wherein someone calls you, pretends to be from your bank or a government agency and have you share your critical data, OTP, et al.
- When in doubt, call your bank or the agency to verify the information. When you know it’s not true, register your complaint on the fake call you received. Be a good Samaritan.
- Never share your personal information with any unauthorized person. No legal entity will ask you to part with your personal data.
- There are many frauds happening on social media platforms including your messaging apps. Don’t fall prey for anything that looks too good to be true.
- Always download apps from the authorized app or play store.
- Do not jail break or root your mobile devices.
- Ensure that you have a well-known anti-virus installed on your phone that also checks for phishing attacks.
- Never store critical info like passwords, bank account information, etc. on your mobile devices.
- Spend some time educating yourself on cybercrimes.
In the current climate of uncertainty, it is impossible to predict what is going to happen next. But we know that the malicious actors are going to be a lot more active than ever before.
It is time for consumers to be data proactive and strengthen the security on their mobile devices.
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