FBI Issues Warning about Hackers Targeting Mobile Banking Apps

Increasing security threat following 50% upsurge in mobile device use during COVID-19 pandemic

In a new warning from the FBI’s Internet Crime Division on June 10, the U.S. law enforcement agency is cautioning financial institutions that cybercriminals are targeting mobile banking apps and alerting banks to enhance mobile security.  According to the public service announcement: “As the public increases its use of mobile banking apps, partially due to increased time at home, the FBI anticipates cyber attackers to exploit these platforms.” There is a 50% increase in app use since the beginning of the pandemic.

This public service announcement comes after the FBI and Secret Service officials released a sobering analysis in April that they expected cybercrimes in banking to explode. In fact, since March the FBI’s internet crime division has seen a three and four-fold increase in cybercrime complaints. With the rise of messenger banking and other new methods of facilitating financial transactions, the warnings are good reminders for banks and consumers alike.

To tighten security for consumer banking apps, the FBI recommends financial institutions:

  • Deploy two-step authentication for all consumer banking logins;
  • Communicate to consumers not to click on unknown links in emails, even if they look legitimate;
  • Encourage consumers to only download from legitimate app stores; and
  • Create a method for consumers to report any suspicious activity to your bank and act on it