Give In To Convenience But Risk Of Being Hacked By Banking And Paying With Smart Phones?

Bank of America and other banks are making it easier for you to pay bills and buy products whenever at wherever.  How?  Through smart phones, banks are increasingly rolling out applications that allow users to interact with the banks and the merchants on the go.  There won’t be an argument there on the aspect of convenience, but security is a nightmare!

Each smart phone is smart in taking your commands and automating itself in various tedious tasks — these devices, although smaller than ever before, are keep on getting more powerful.  So powerful that a smart phone almost resembles to a small netbook.  Just take a look at the latest iPhone, it can do many things that a netbook can.  You can argue that a netbook is more powerful still, but I say it’s close enough.  This is why nowadays almost everyone wants a smart phone.

Unfortunately, smart phones of today are susceptible to being hacked by hackers.  Let us guess, smart phones are not smart enough?  According to Hak5’s “Episode 825 – Shmoocon 2011 Part 2: Android Botnets…,” Darren Kitchen interviews Georgia Weidman and reveals that smart phones of today have no protection whatsoever in term of computer security as if we’re using the technology of the past.  So why smart phones need computer security?  Essentially, smart phones are computers — just slim down versions of tablets and netbooks and personal computers.  At the cores of smart phones’ operating systems, programs are written in computer languages such as C, and so hackers who know how to write computer programs can exploit the vulnerabilities within these smart phones.

So, the scary facts are smart phones have no security protection whatsoever, but banks are encouraging users to use smart phones to pay for stuffs.  At the same time, from coffee shops to various stores are trying out new programs that allow users to pay through smart phones.  Obviously, everyone wants to make more money, but the customers may face the wrath of hackers.  Imagine this, one beautiful day suddenly turns sour as you notice your bank account has zero dollar, because a hacker (i.e., a stranger) had emptied out your bank account.  Yes, very Hollywood like, but hackers are capable of tricking you to let them have access to your smart phones if you’re not careful.  By having security programs on your smart phones, at least you may have higher chance of spotting red flag activities.  Even with security programs on smart phones, it bogs down to being smart — apparently, hackers can send SMS messages to entice you to either install an application or do something stupid, and if everything is going according to plan for the specific hacker, your smart phone is hacked.  By using smart phones to access bank accounts and paying for stuffs, you are at higher risk of exposing your confidential information to hackers.

In conclusion, smart phones have to be beefier in term of security before I think smart phones are safe to be used as payment devices.  You see, a credit card reveals less information than a smart phone!  If someone has your credit card or remembering your credit card information, that individual only knows the numbers of your credit card, your name, the three or four security codes on the back of the credit cards, and the expire date; with a smart phone, either it got stolen or a hacker has full blown access to it, you are at risk of revealing all personal information that you have saved on your smart phone.  Potentially, hackers can access to everything that you do electronically.  To end the whole article, I have to say it’s great that banks are listening to customers by making banking easier through whatever methods (i.e., using smart phone to pay for stuffs), but banks need to watch out for their customers by improving the security of smart phones such as rolling out security applications for their customers.


Image by geee.darryl from using Creative Common License.  Photographer of this specific image can email me at to have this image taken out of this article!

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