If you’re like most Americans, then you probably use at least one health and/or finance app on your Smartphone or tablet. Perhaps you’re a business owner who manages client accounts via an app, or just an everyday person who uses a mobile banking app. Whatever the case may be, you probably think your apps and your sensitive information is pretty safe. Well, think again. According to a startling new study by Arxan, an app security company, most of these sensitive apps aren’t nearly as secure as you think they are!
The company looked at 126 different health and finance apps, all of them popular, well-known, and widely used. What it found was that a whopping 90% of them had security problems that users and even, in some cases, the makers of the apps, were unaware of.
One of the security experts who worked on the study admitted that there’s a huge difference between how safe users tend to think these apps are and how safe they actually are…and that’s not a good thing. Users who feel safe with an app will put in all kinds of sensitive, personal information…not realizing that they’re putting themselves at risk when they do.
And, while it might seem that app security is a new concern, brought on by the prevalence of mobile devices, that’s not totally true. Security experts working on the study were quick to point out that many of the problems that exist with modern apps also existed (and still do exist) with early websites and other “technological” means of information transferring.
People tend to think, falsely, that modern apps are a lot more secure than the older ways of transferring information. So, they let their guards down, which, according to the study, can be quite dangerous. The study found several common problems among the apps it tested. They included:
l Weak server side controls
l Poor transport layer protection
l Data leakage
l Broken cryptography
l Bad authentication practices
l Poor binary protection
Sadly, these were just a few of many problems found, and most of the apps also proved vulnerable to cyber attacks and hacking. While this information is frightening, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to stop using these applications entirely.
Instead, it means that you should set all included security features to the highest possible level, change passwords regularly, use only secure connections, and always download your apps from legitimate, trustworthy sources.
If users of these apps can be more vigilant about how they use them and where they use them, there’s a good chance that no harm will come from using them. However, it is always recommended to keep physical backups of any important information that you might lose if the app was hacked into or shut down and, of course, to be honest in all your dealings in case information about app users is ever leaked.
It’s a scary world we live in, but we can’t escape technology entirely, which is why the best thing to do is to simply be as careful as possible.