How to create secured banking mobile apps
All the industries across the globe are now heading towards a complete digital transformation. While the extent of this transformation may differ yet, mobile apps, mobile notifications or doing anything which makes them closer to their clients remains the goal number one to achieve. With the increasing number of smartphone users and the user base shifting from the standard 11 inches or more to the small mobile screens, the market for mobile apps is increasing at a lightning-fast speed too!
It is thus only obvious that all the businesses will try and compete with each other to get the screen space and ensure a permanent presence in their prospect consumer’s digital life.
Banking sector- despite the fact that they are more of a utility than want and hence the user will always come to them no matter what are competing in the mobile app space too. The pressure to provide a good service has resulted in all the banks launching their personal banking mobile apps.
A Few Caveats
An understanding of the background
Banking mobile apps have become very common nowadays. Almost all of us have the apps of our banks on our phones. It makes sense too, given how it makes the entire process easier. Whether it is doing a bank transfer or simply opening a fixed or recurring deposit account. All of it can be done on the click of a button on your banking mobile app.
However, despite the increased familiarity about mobile usage, development of a banking mobile app isn’t an easy task to do. There are multiple features that one needs to take care of and the biggest, most important out of all those is the data and financial security.
Ensuring that isn’t as easy as it sounds. It is a pretty complicated process.
Plus, the whole integrations and encryption bit to ensure secure online transactions become another mountain to cross for a typical banking mobile app. Multiple secure data layers need to be put too. The process isn’t as easy a step as it sounds for there are multiple certifications and legal documents to file before one can launch their banking mobile app.
The Banking Mobile App Situation Now
Mobile banking apps are now pretty adept at helping users not just check their balance or transfer money. Rather, they have expanded the portfolios to enable shopping, manage loans, even make big-ticket purchases through third-party integrations. And a banking mobile app isn’t about just the banks. The payment wallets such as PayPal, PayTM and payment gateway providers such as RazorPay fall under the purview of mobile banking apps.
The latter has been gaining immense popularity among the masses as well. Let us take the example of Google Pay which has increased its mobile screen share by more than 50% over the past two years. PhonePe and others are equally popular and PayTM still remains one of the favourites. But as these applications gain popularity and become more and more preferred occupying the user’s mobile space, the playground for hackers and cyber criminals increases too!
And while it may not be a science fiction movie, it has been a fact that cyber criminals have always been a step ahead of the law enforcement. Also, the cyber police in most countries aren’t as versed with the nitty-gritty of the technology as a typical hacker or cyber criminal is.
Plus, the attack of the hackers has always been in diverse unpredictable ways. They would steal the identity someday, submit a false application, attack via a malicious network connection or simply abuse the stolen credentials.
Let us take the example of the Anubis malware which has been updating continually since 2018. This malware adopted motion-based sensors to elude the typical sandbox analysis and overlays in order to reveal a person’s identity. In August 2019, the banking malware Trickbot launched a spyware email campaign with malicious attachments and most recently, the Gimp Trojan was being pushed through several counterfeit apps to steal the login and credit card information of the users.
The point is that the banking firms or even the firms dealing with any kind of financial data are trying to be secure, every possible protection layer is being put in place but then, how does one make a totally secure banking mobile app? Well, this blog answers the question in decent details.
While we will discuss it, let us have a look at the 3 major ways which Criminals use to try and access your data stored on your mobiles phones. You see, to find a solution to the problem, it is important to first understand what the problem is.
3 Ways Criminals Try to Access Data on Your Mobile Phone
Spying on your Keystrokes
Malicious software or malware can log anything that you enter on your phone- be it passwords, numbers, account numbers etc. This software then sends the information to the hacker. Imagine having a banking mobile app on your phone in such a case which isn’t adequately secured to a malware attack. It goes without saying that your financial account details will thus be compromised.
Man In The Middle Attacks
A rather not so technical way impacting your banking mobile app, this kind of attack is more of an attack on the banking servers. How this works is that when you use a banking mobile app, the app communicates with the backend servers of the institution. However, when attacked, the information for verification would be sent to the hacker instead of the bank server. This will allow the attacker to send a counterfeit bank server certificate to the app in use allowing them to access your accounts.
Literally the oldest form of hacking ever, it still remains in use because there are just so many ways in which phishing can be done. This involves the hackers contacting you through email, phone or text, posing as your banking institutions and asking you to share the relevant details. To verify, a lot of times these hackers will send you to websites which look exactly like that of your financial institution or ask you for codes which you would have expected anyway.
The recent case of Jamtara in Madhya Pradesh where a bunch of goons duped multiple people globally was a phishing scam only.Having taken the probable hacking activities into cognizance, the following 9 steps show how a banking service provider, as well as a developer, can make sure that they create a secure banking mobile app.
7 steps to practice to ensure secure mobile banking experience
Cloud-Based Services Adoption
Cloud-based services are known for their quick processes, ease of adoption, reduced run times and super agile rectification efficiency. The easier maintenance, lesser costs, high scalability and superior flexibility are a plus.
Banks can easily switch to cloud serves for a more secure solution and help their servers from being compromised. However, before taking this leap of faith, it is important to understand the kind of traffic the banking mobile app has and what all features and security layers it has to offer. This is important to figure out if the shift would be viable or not. For further security, a lot of banking firms prefer having an on-premise cloud server too.
Fast, Seamless And Secure Authentication Process
In addition to the usual OTP led security and authentication process, we feel that artificial intelligence will have a significant role to play in this. While thumbprints have long been used for locking and unlocking, yet the crimes haven’t abated much by it since all one needs is the thumbprint or the passcode to access the mobile banking app.
However, assume that the banking mobile app is enabled with a 3D facial recognition or say that the fast processing AI backed analytics solution detects that there is some unusual transaction happening, the level of alertness of the entire bank security ecosystem will be significantly improved because of it.
For instance, a facial recognition solution will only give access to the banking mobile app through the exact contour and retina matching. The retina matching bit is even more advanced because if the user is unconscious and the pupils dilated, the retina scan will not detect a match. It will always have to be the same amount of normal retina dilation to ensure that the lock is opened.
Encourage the use of NFC-embedded SIM cards
While it is practically impossible to force this security option on to the customers, the same can always be suggested to them for their extra protection. An NFC embedded SMI card allows consumers to securely download the credit card information into their Near Field Communication or NFC enabled SIM card.
This option can provide a secure solution to the overall account information because this would require the customers to not carry a card at all. Rather, a swipe of the phone through the dedicated banking mobile app will be enough
Even Whatsapp claims to offer end-to-end encryption so it is only obvious that banking mobile apps should be enabled with it too. A lot of private data is exchanged over the banking mobile apps in different capacities and will multiple service providers. End-to-end encryption will ensure that this data is safe and secure and even if a hacking attempt is made on the servers,the data is encrypted and hence isn’t readable or usable for the perpetrators of the crime.
In addition to this, it is important to note that once end-to-end encryption is enabled, regular security audits and penetration tests should be done to make sure that the system works fine and is perfectly in place.
Utilize behavior analysis
This application will see a major use of Big data and Artificial Intelligence to make the banking mobile apps secure. Now, to understand it better, let us take the example of a person who only spends in a certain limit of say USD 1000 to USD 1500 a month. If such a person makes a sudden purchase of USD 5000 or goes and makes a purchase at a totally new category of a website, the behavioral analysis could show that something is wrong and the transaction may be temporarily blocked till confirmation is received from the client.
Offer real-time text and email alerts
This is, in a way an extension of the behavioural analysis point mentioned above. The usual way of alerting the user of a transaction is through a phone call which may or may not go received, Real-time alerts such as a mobile message or in-app notification can help the user to be sure of the transactions being made as well as also notify the user when they are trying to use their card on a seemingly malicious site.
Use secure access
Using secured channels like https, communication from browser to website becomes trustworthy. Though it is a very basic step to take yet it ensures a safety firewall which is usually not easy for hackers to surpass.
Issues like data theft and fraudulent logins can be eliminated using secured mobile apps and secured websites.
Blockchain for Mobile Banking App Security
Banks have always been keen to work on an opportunity which could reduce the existing transnational costs and also the amount of paper being worked upon in the process. Blockchain in banking can be an elixir in these terms. All the major banks across US and the APAC regions are already trying to get a hang of how to make the entire Blockchain technology work for them in the domains of money transfers, record keeping and other backend functions.
The importance, however, lies in the fact that Blockchain in banking allows for tracking all the documentation and validating ownership of assets in real-time. In addition to this, the secure layers of firewall ensure that the ledger remains unalterable. We have identified two very basic, yet highly impactful which Blockchain in banking holds for data security
Improved Cyber Attack Protection
Most of the banking systems utilize a centralized database and hence become all the more vulnerable to cyber-attacks. With Blockchain in banking, one can have the same centralization be fragmented so that not everything comes under attack at once. The multiple levels of security thus created due to the very basic blockchain structure can thus be of great essence
Blockchains work on the premise of two-party authentication. This means that for any transaction to take place, both the parties have to authenticate. This application of Blockchain in banking can be especially useful in detecting any kind of identity theft or credit card frauds since it will move the system beyond the usual OTP based verification. Coupled with AI-backed facial recognition, this will make the entire banking mobile app ecosystem really secure.
The world has advanced a lot. A look at the market and we will know that most of the advancements that are being done are now in the fields of Banking and Financial Sectors only. With the mobile app market growing significantly, it is only obvious that the confluence of the sector and the technology will happen. Security of an average banking mobile app still remains a concern. After all, it is all about the hard-earned money and one wrong swipe or clicks and it will all be lost.
This is one of the reasons why amongst all the probable app types, Mobile banking apps have found the least acceptance. However, things have started changing now. We hope that all the banking service providers will make sure that when a user finally agrees to have a banking mobile app on their phone, they know that they can fully trust the bank with their hard-earned savings.