When banking goes mobile

With the increase in adoption of mobile banking applications, there is also a rise in security risks associated with them

taru

Taru Bhatia | May 13, 2016 | New Delhi


#banking apps   #KPMG   #mobile banking   #m-banking  


Net banking is becoming passé. Banks today are offering their services on mobile phones for the convenience of users. Around 59 percent of customers avail various banking services on phones, according to KPMG, a global financial and business advisor. However, the security of such banking applications is still a matter of concern. While banks use two-way authentication process to identify their users, security experts consider this method is now as outdated and hackable. 
 
Experimenting biometrics as a security gateway is under discussion. But can banks rely on biometrics taken on mobile phones? The answer is still debatable.
 
The two-factor authentication method comprises of one-time-password (OTP) and a PIN number. According to Tarun Wig, security consultant at Delhi-based Innefu Labs, the method is obsolete now. “If my device is compromised, a hacker can take out sensitive information such as card number and PIN number without my knowledge. They can access my OTP and send it to the bank to complete the transaction,” he says. A device here could be a SIM card, an app or a mobile phone.
 
“Unlike internet banking, the process of two-way authentication for mobile banking has got converged, meaning that I am putting my password on the same phone where I am receiving the OTP. So, if my phone has been compromised, there is a possibility that the attacker is able to access the combination of SIM and OTP without my knowledge,” says Akhilesh Tuteja, head, risk consulting at KPMG, adding that it is possible though not easy.
 
There are different ways in which malware can be put into a phone. If we go to an app store, we can find thousands of small applications available for free. Some of these mobile apps are made by rogue developers to deceive users and track passwords and locations. So, users need to be much careful to read about an app before downloading it.
 
Besides, when a user visits various websites from his phone, say to download songs, possibility of malware entering the phone increases. Hence, usage of internet on phone has made our phones vulnerable to attacks.
 
Moreover, in the two-way authentication method, banks generally accept a numeric password for their mobile banking apps, which Tuteja feels is easier to break compared to alphanumeric passwords.
 
Handling of device is also an essential factor to determine the vulnerability of banking applications. “The biggest problem lies in user awareness. In any app, you are required to put the password. So, how good or strong password you keep is an important consideration,” he says.
 
To keep mobile phones secure, the user must frequently change the banking application passwords. Users may also choose not to download any app from non-credible sources, Tuteja says. 
 
Banks also provide their users an option to subscribe to SMS and email alerts. Users must opt for this service in order to keep track of their banking activities. 
 
Looking at biometric-based security
To enhance security of banking apps, banks must explore biometrics as a security gateway, believe experts. But implementation of the same is a challenge. Not all phones available in the market support the biometrics feature. Among the ones which allow users to take biometric samples, the level of accuracy has to be considered along with considering whether the format of the sample is able to integrate with the backend system of banks.
 
State Bank of India (SBI), with over 15 million m-banking users, will soon launch biometric-based security feature for mobile banking. “The technology is still under evaluation. The customers will not be asked to share passwords or PIN number if the biometric sample is accepted,” Shiv Kumar Bhasin, chief technology officer, SBI, says. The biometrics could include fingerprints, iris and voice, he says, adding that they would ensure that the method to verify users by their biometrics is user-friendly and requires no external device. 
 
Now one has to see how many of SBI’s customers using its m-banking application will be able to adapt to this new feature. 
 
Phones with such an advance feature to support biometric are expensive. For example, the fingerprint scanner is available in phones in the price range of above Rs 10,000. To assume that everyone owns such a phone is not prudent. We need to give this technology some time until we have mobile phones that can incorporate this technology accurately, and are affordable enough to reach the masses.  
 
Industry solution
While users should take precautions for safe mobile banking, banks can also implement some technology to detect malware coming from its users’ device. Vaidhyanathan Iyer, business unit executive, IBM Security, says that we cannot blame applications alone. How security inside banks works also matters. “Our cloud-based solution Trusteer tries to prevent web frauds. If I am availing banking services from a malware-infected mobile phone, banks’ backend system integrated with this solution tells which users’ devices have been infected with a malware. With this information, banks can stop the transaction. This is one way of protecting it. By another way, banks can help customers remove malware from their device,” says Iyer. 

taru@governancenow.com
 
(The article appears in May 1-15, 2016 edition of Governance Now)
 

Comments

 

Other News

Mumbai issues global tender for 10 mn vaccines

Struggling with rationing and prioritising available supplies amid the acute Covid-19 vaccine shortage, the BrihanMumbai municipal corporation (BMC) has floated a global tender for supply of 1 crore doses, even as it has announced a walk-in vaccination campaign next week for select categories of citizens.

“Focus on percent of population vaccinated rather than numbers”

Expressing regret that despite being the largest producer of vaccines in the world things have fallen apart in India, Ashok Seth, a Padma Bhushan awardee and chairman of Fortis Escorts Heart Institute, has said that the focus needs to be on  percentage and not the number of population vaccinated. 

In Maharashtra, a wave of aid for the needy

In Maharashtra, the epicentre of India’s devastating second wave, several NGOs and civil society organisations have been at work to combat the pandemic – by spreading awareness about precautions, by helping the slum-dwellers book appointment for vaccine, by providing meals to the marginalised a

Daily recovery averages 3.28 lakh cases in 10 days

The cumulative number of Covid-19 vaccine doses administered in the country has crossed the landmark of 17 crore on Monday as the Phase 3 of the nationwide vaccination drive expands further. India is the fastest country to administer 17 crore Covid vaccine doses – China took 119 days and USA 115 days

“UP situation extremely bad, govt hiding data”

India is battling the second wave of Covid-19 and infections are spreading into the interiors of the country, says Dr Anurag Bhadouria, National Spokesperson, Samajwadi Party. It is precipitated by the elections in five states, the Kumbh Mela in Haridwar and also panchayat elections in many states, he says

CoWIN to have new security feature from Saturday

The CoWIN system, the overarching digital platform for citizens seeking appointment for the Covid-19 vaccine, is introducing a new four-digit security code” in the application from Saturday to minimise a peculiar error and subsequent inconvenience to citizens. “It has been notic

Visionary Talk with Dr. Ashok Seth, Padma Bhushan Awardee & Chairman, Fortis Escorts Heart Institute On Tackling Corona



Archives

Current Issue

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter