Beware Trojan Mobile Banking Apps

Mobile banking applications usage has increased, partly as a result of the virus and lockdown and now the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has warned that there is a rise in realted criminal acitivty. Usage of mobile banking applications has significantly increased, and this has recently risen by 50% since the beginning of 2020, an alert from the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) reveals.

The FBI advises users to excercise extreme caution when downloading banking Apps  to mobile devices, as they could hide 'malicious intent'.  

Cyber criminals target banking information using banking Trojans, are malicious programs that disguise themselves as other apps, including games 

Banking Trojans, are usually disguised as other apps and remain dormant on devices until the user launches a legitimate banking application. The Trojan may overlay a false version of the bank’s login page and trick the user into revealing their login credentials, which are then sent to human operators that leverage them to compromise accounts.

In some cases, cyber-criminals create fake apps that impersonate legitimate financial software, also in an attempt to deceive users into entering their credentials. 

Such apps usually display an error message after the attempted login and can steal security codes received by users by leveraging smartphone permission requests. According to the FBI,  nearly 65,000 fake apps have been detected on major app stores, making this one of the fastest growing sectors of smartphone-based fraud

To stay protected, users should download applications from trusted sources only, such as official app stores and bank websites.

Using two- or multi-factor authentication represents another means of staying protected from exploitation, as it is highly effective in securing accounts against compromise, the FBI notes. Modern MFA solutions (biometrics, hardware tokens, or authentication apps) are more secure compared to email or SMS-based methods.

The FBI also recommends the use of multiple types of authentication for accounts when possible, keeping an eye on where personally identifiable information (PII) is stored and only sharing the most necessary information with financial institutions, and avoiding clicking on links in emails or text messages, or sharing two-factor codes over phone.

The FBI recommends creating strong, unique passwords to mitigate these attacks. The US National Institute of Standards and Technology's (NIST) most recent guidance encourages users to make passwords or passphrases that are 15 characters or longer..

Users who encounter an app that looks suspicious are encouraged to contact the financial institution to report it. If a phone call claiming to be from the bank seems suspicious, users should hang up and call the bank at the customer service number on their website.

FBI:         Security Week:         The Hill:       

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