It’s The Wild West With Mobile Investing Apps
For an investor, a smartphone is cool device that can be used for virtually any need that used to require a PC. Smartphone apps are still not full replacements for PC apps, for a lot of reasons the most obvious is that the market is still immature. But it’s changing fast. Ten years ago, getting real time quotes was a luxury that was available at extra cost, whereas today many mobile apps provide real time information from day one.
I had a wakeup call when I was adding an additional broker to my Wikinvest Mobile iPhone app.
Instead of asking for my login information that I normally put in the desktop website, the app wanted an account number and Social Security number! It’s not clear to me why this information was required. Needless to say, I didn’t provide the information. This got me thinking what could happen to my accounts if I lost my iPhone. Could my investments be compromised?
PC/MAC broker websites have gradually improved security by requiring secondary login authentication such as challenge questions, password generating key fobs and image verification. TradeKing takes security one step further by utilizing a virtual keyboard that prevents hackers from keyboard sniffing.
Mobile apps however need to catch-up. The typical mobile app is on a different development path from the desktop version, along with different developers, which has caused a divergence of feature content as well as security provisions. Most of the broker apps I tried do not contain any kind of secondary authentication.
Here are some tips to use to protect yourself:
- Add a home screen password to your smartphone which will timeout. If you lose your phone, the next person won’t be able to use your apps or get information. If you do nothing else this will go very far to protect your apps.
- Configure you mobile investor apps to NOT save your login information (unclick that checkbox which says to ‘save login information’). Yea, it’s a pain to enter it each time you use the app but it is more secure.
- In your mobile app browser settings, make sure Autofill (for names and passwords) is set to OFF. This will prevent anyone else from automatically getting into your broker accounts.
- Install the ‘Find My iPhone’ app. This app (for iPhones) will enable you to control your phone if it is lost or stolen. Not only will it enable you to locate the phone, you can also wipe it out remotely.
Keep it safe.