How to protect your mobile banking apps from security vulnerabilities

 Protecting your banking apps from various security vulnerabilities in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis has become an urgent necessity. 

In this era of data breaches, in addition to protecting your customer data, you also need to secure your business. Aside from the pandemic, it's still a smart idea to rethink your current security strategy. 

According to CSO Online, there is a 28% chance that companies will face a data breach in the next two years. 

Given the devastating effects of privacy breaches, you can't rely on improving your network or device security to protect your apps.

Unfortunately, web and mobile apps are highly susceptible to cyber-attacks. 

Therefore, organizations – especially financial institutions – are required to take extra precautions to take the security of their apps to the next level.

Without such measures, traditional security steps like firewalls and antivirus software won't make much of a difference. 

Fortunately, protecting your apps from reverse engineering and tampering is in your own hands, so you don't need to allocate a huge budget to fix this problem.

Why are banking apps vulnerable?

The architecture of banking apps is one of the most serious vulnerabilities that can lead to breaches. 

An app is a piece of software connected to the bank's backend system using standards-based Application Programming Interfaces (APIs).

These APIs are usually open source, which is very useful for developers. 

On the other hand, they create security loopholes that cannot be resolved or mitigated by traditional security measures such as firewalls or web application firewalls (WAFs).

For example, both APIs and mobile banking apps develop machine-to-machine and encrypted interactions on the network. 

Attackers can take advantage of machine-to-machine interactions by creating their own shadow APIs. 

Ironically, these shadow APIs don't show up as compromised endpoints, allowing hackers and cybercriminals to hide by appearing as approved users because network filters are unable to identify them.

Apps ownership is divided

Apps ownership is another cumbersome factor when it comes to securing banking apps against data breaches. There are usually two owners: one who works for the bank and the other is an outside owner.

In most industries, an industry manager is usually the one who defines the requirements of the software. The development team is primarily responsible for creating it, and the IT Ops team must implement it accordingly.

As far as banking is concerned, the industry executives are the owners of mobile banking apps. The IT department also owns it and there is an outside entity that has to develop the app and manage the APIs.

This type of ownership creates problems from a security point of view, as three owners share the responsibility. There is a high probability that something could go wrong at any time.

If a security issue arises, there may be disagreement over who will resolve the issue.

Improper use of the mobile platform

Both mobile operating systems, Android and iOS, provide their users with unique security features in the form of authorization systems or TouchID. If you don't use them properly, you could face privacy threats as a result, exposing your crucial personal information to hackers.

Data storage is insecure

Every app you use needs some space to store your data. 

The storage solutions, including internal storage, must be highly secure if you want to store your sensitive information. 

This step is the first line of defense in preventing data breaches.

If you are unable to secure your data storage, hackers can gain access to your sensitive data and misuse it for their own benefit.

Communication is vulnerable

Mobile apps need to communicate with external data sources such as NFC, Bluetooth devices, servers, etc. 

You cannot avoid this communication; otherwise, the app could not perform optimally. But this activity can also leak your data.

Implications of PSD2 on banks

The primary purpose of PSD2 (Payment Services Directive 2) is to reduce fraud and malicious activity and improve the security of online payments. The law aims to strengthen the use of digital documents and also to increase digital security. In addition, the PSD2 also supports the idea of ​​open banking and competition within the financial sector.

The law requires banks to grant qualified third parties automated access to the transaction accounts of private and corporate customers. The PSD2 enables fintech, large enterprises, banks, and customers to work closely with banks, as PSPs. In addition, the law aims to provide consumers with much better online security in terms of online payments and the overall customer experience.

How can security vulnerabilities in mobile banking apps be prevented?

Banks will need to adopt robust security measures to protect their apps from data or security breaches. Here is the list of the best possible solutions for banks to adequately secure their apps:

In conclusion:

Customers also need to secure their banking apps by installing mobile-based antivirus software and using VPNs that help protect their financial information.

source: Usman Hayat