PSA: The Super Bowl and Mobile Banking

Posted by Steve Gilde on February 2, 2017

Here we are, deep in the hype zone for Super Bowl LI with the entire nation seemingly looking forward to the upcoming clash between the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots. While there is no shortage of excitement around the game itself, there is just as much, if not more, interest in the commercials that will air before, during and after the event. 

After a quick check of the advertiser line-up for this year, I must admit that I was pleased to see that the ad rate was apparently too high for any of the big banks to participate because following the recent holiday blitz of ads for mobile banking applications, I wasn’t yet ready for another round of ads telling me I can check my account balance, pay bills and make purchases all while shopping, scuba diving, jet skiing, zip lining or sumo wrestling.

Anywhere Banking, But Not Everywhere

Given that lower-priced tickets for the Super Bowl are running $3,000 or more, you wouldn’t think anyone at the game would need to check their balances or even worry about banking at all. But, you can bet that somewhere in that crowd of more than 72,000, someone will take the opportunity to do a little mobile banking, since Houston’s NRG Stadium has an open, free Wi-Fi network that can handle up to 48,500 concurrent users.

A Wi-Fi attack can happen in as little as 2 seconds, which is important to know since more than 70 percent of all mobile communications take place over Wi-Fi and 90 percent of tablets use Wi-Fi only for connectivity. Most mobile security experts, (including those from some of the same banks aggressively promoting “anywhere banking”), advise their consumers not to trust open public networks. 

Unfortunately, many people still seem unaware of the danger lurking in their hands and the damage that can be done. Consider these interesting facts:

  • More than 65% of mobile users allow their devices to automatically connect to free, public networks;
  • Screen lock passwords such as “0000”, “1111” and “1234” are still incredibly common; and
  • More than 30 percent of smart phone users still don’t use passwords to protect their device at all.

Additionally, Android’s operating system, which is used by more than 50 percent of smartphones in the U.S., is inherently insecure. In fact, Statista reported that there were 523 new Android vulnerabilities, or software errors, in 2016 alone.

While it’s important for banks to remain competitive in the midst of a digital revolution, it’s even more important for banks to educate consumers on how to use this technology wisely, instead of widely, to better protect ourselves and our money. While mobile banking offers the convenience of managing your finances from anywhere, at any time, the simple truth is that consumers have a higher risk of being a victim of fraud if they do.

Since I won’t actually be in Houston for the big game, I will still be watching the Super Bowl from home to see if Budweiser, Snickers or Mountain Dew has this year’s best commercial (please, no more “puppymonkeybaby”). Plus, that way if the need arises, I’ll have a more secure way to do my monthly banking.

And oh yeah, “Go Falcons!”