Keep your expenses in check, budget smartly, build savings, pay off debt, avoid late charges and stay in the black – these are some of the clever, on-the-go money moves you can make when using a budget or personal finance app. It’s no wonder then that this handy, paperless financial tool is reportedly a booming marketplace in South Africa.
You can connect most of these Android and iPhone budget apps to your bank account to track your spending activities and patterns; receive alerts; and monitor how much money you have left for a particular budget item. South Africans have a wide range of money apps and budget planners to choose from, with Old Mutual’s 22seven – featuring a cool “spend”-ometer – generally getting a solid thumbs-up. Other options include Mint, GoodBudget, Stocard, Wallet, Spending Tracker and Sanlam Intelligence.
But, how secure are these budget apps?
In South Africa we’re constantly reminded to never give out our banking details, pins or identity numbers, and quite rightly so; we should always remain on high alert for fraud, identity theft and prowling hackers. As with many forms of technology, budget apps come with security risks that can be detrimental to your bank balance. So before downloading, keep these six points in mind:
1. Always protect your personal information
The truth is that for most budget apps you’ll be asked to provide some sensitive information, such as your bank account login and password. That’s why you need to ensure the app is valid – don’t install anything from companies you don’t know. Also find out if they use the same security measures as banks and if they’re insured to cover losses.
2. Know how your personal information travels around the Internet
For example, 22seven says: “All information that is transferred over the Internet between your computer or device and our servers is encrypted using 256-bit encryption.” This means that, even if intercepted, your information remains protected.
3. Watch out for fake apps
Apps can contain malware that can give cybercriminals full access to your smartphone. See if you can spot any spelling errors in the app’s description – a huge red flag. Also refrain from clicking on pop-up advertising in an app.
4. Ensure your smartphone is password-protected
With mobile device theft being a stark reality, ensure your smartphone is password-protected, has security software installed and carries a remote wipe capability so you can delete sensitive information should it fall into the wrong hands.
5. Beware of read-only access
Remember apps’ “read-only” access feature isn’t completely harmless. Cyber-crooks can still view your expenses and financial data. When they quote these during a telephone call, you could easily be conned into disclosing your password.
6. Don’t download apps with public Wi-Fi
Never ever do online banking or download budget apps in public Wi-Fi hotspots where hackers can eavesdrop and pocket sensitive details
Remember, budget apps are mostly generic tools and not designed for your specific financial circumstances – although some allow for advanced personalisation. They can lend a helping hand, but never completely replace professional, personalised financial planning.
For more IT security solutions for your personal finance and your business, contact Evolv Networks.