In a world where much of our banking is done online, it’s never been more important to stay safe when dealing with our finances.

There are so many potential disasters lying in wait when we use our computer or a smartphone to access our bank accounts, and lots of people remain unaware of just how big the threat really is.

It’s a serious issue, and there’s a lot at stake. If a hacker can get hold of your bank login details, they can steal your money, make purchases, and give you a whole host of extremely stressful problems to deal with.

One of the ways criminals gain access to the bank accounts of their victims is through mobile apps. Mobile banking is more common than ever, with around 61% of people using phones to manage their finances on a regular basis.

What’s more, mobile phone security is woefully misunderstood — 57% of adults in 2014 were not even aware that mobile security software existed. This means that many people are putting themselves at risk of hacking every time they check their balance.

This vulnerability was highlighting pretty shockingly in a recent attack involving a piece of malware called BankBot.

What happened?

BankBot was a Trojan, meaning it hid inside other software (apps from the Google Play store, in this case) and used these as a vessel to enter unsuspecting victims’ phones.

The malware targeted a series of banks including Wells Fargo, Chase, DiBa, AND Citibank, across a range of countries like the U.S., Germany, Poland, and Russia.

It hid inside seemingly harmless apps like flashlights, solitaire, and cleaner apps. Users downloaded the app, and the malicious software inside began spying on them and collecting their bank details.

One of the methods it used was to create a fake user interface that looked the same as that of the victim’s banking app. The user thought they were entering their details into their bank, but in fact it was going straight to the hackers.

Scary stuff! The good news, though, is that it’s all totally avoidable, and smartphones are still much safer than computers.

How to stay safe

For tips on how to keep your smartphones secure, check out our guide. There are also some simple steps you can follow to avoid danger.

Exercise caution when downloading new software. Trojans like BankBot are one of the most common methods for phone hackers, but are also one of the most preventable. Check the rating when you download an app, and avoid ones that look unofficial or suspicious.

It also pays to avoid websites that you don’t trust, and be careful when replying to emails —they could be a phishing scam. Be careful whenever you enter personal information or login details anywhere online.

Good anti-virus and screening software is also a massive help. Avast has a great mobile package, which is a must for anyone who uses their phone for sensitive tasks.

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