Risk Evaluation Report Finds Mobile Banking Leaves Some Banks More Vulnerable to Cyber Attacks

While mobile banking is no doubt convenient for customers – and banks – there’s a significant downside to the fact that more and more financial institutions are using the technology: an increased risk that your personal information will fall in the hands of a cyber criminal.

A new report [PDF] from the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency suggests that banks’ strategies to implement mobile technology often leaves their infrastructure open to cyber attacks, the Chicago Tribune reports.

According to the OCC’s semiannual risk perspective report released on Tuesday, banks are increasingly embracing the use of technology such as cloud computing and mobile banking to stave off the competition.

While the ease of mobile banking and other advances can not only save customers time but save banks money, the OCC found that these systems can “increase exposure to technological and operational risk.”

“Banks and their employees, customers and third-party service providers continue to be vulnerable to cyberattacks that can compromise data or systems or allow criminals to illegally obtain personally identifiable information,” the report states.

The report also found that many banks lacks sufficient response plans if they find themselves on the wrong side of a cyber attack.

“There are many systems out there that have known, existing vulnerabilities that need to be addressed and can be addressed,” Beth Dugan, the OCC’s deputy comptroller for operational risk, tells the Wall Street Journal. “As the larger institutions do put in mitigating controls and strengthen their systems, the bad actors are just going down [to smaller firms] looking for the weakest link.”

In addition to pointing out some financial institutions’ lack of cybersecurity, the OCC’s report found other worrisome issues in the banking industry, mainly in the form riskier of lending.

According to the report, competition pushed banks to make more exceptions to their lending and underwriting policies during the first part of 2015.

The banking regulator said it’s seen a “loosening of standards” – such as less underwriting – across many credit products including business loans, commercial real estate loans and vehicle loans.

“Bankers continue to express concerns about the effects that intensified competition with other regulated financial institutions and nonbank financial firms are having on underwriting standards,” the comptroller wrote.

The OCC says that a change in standards could be seen in the way banks have altered terms for auto loans, specifically extending the life of a loan.

Last month, a report from credit reporting agency Experian found that the average loan terms for new and used vehicles span 67 and 62 months, respectively.

In all, that report found that even longer loans – those with terms lasting 73 to 84 months – are on the rise, with 29.5% of all new vehicles financed with such terms. Long-term used vehicle loans for the same duration represented 16% of that market.

Banks making riskier loans; consumers vulnerable to cyberattacks: report [Chicago Tribune]

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