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Using a Mobile Finance App? Your Information May Not be as Safe as You Thought

Posted on 1.20.2015

As mobile apps have become more sophisticated, many financial institutions have developed apps for their clientele that allow them to do everything from simply check how much money they have in their accounts to pay bills on their mobile devices.

However, a new study brings to light the fact that financial apps may not really be as safe as they are advertised to be.

RiskIQ, a cyber-security firm, has released new research findings that detail an expansive amount of malware or suspicious finance and banking apps available to consumers.

The security fim found that a staggering 40,000 (11 percent) of the 350,000 app, which reference banking in the World’s top 90 app stores, contain malware or suspicious binaries. Of the 40,000 apps that RiskIQ determined were suspicious, exactly half of them (20,000) contained Trojan malware and 21,076 contained adware. Also, RiskIQ found that 8,408 of the apps could record audio while 7,188 could access a user’s contacts list and 4,892 could even read SMS messages.

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“Mobile banking is now a way of life for most people. It also presents a lucrative opportunity for criminals to commit fraud. One of the easiest ways to steal a victim’s login and other personal information is using malware and apps with excessive permissions,” said Elias Manousos, CEO of RiskIQ. “These findings show that criminals are using look-a-like banking apps to distribute malware and capture data on the device in order to commit crimes. Policing app stores for malicious apps and taking them down is a never ending battle for banks, and any other brand that uses the mobile channel to interact with customers.”

(RiskIQ labeled apps as suspicious based on whether they contained malware or suspicious binaries identified by a coalition of 70 anti-virus vendors.)

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