Is it safe to use a mobile banking app over an open Wi-Fi connection?

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Hi Leo. I read your bank app article from last August of 2012 but what I’m still wondering is if I’m ok or safe to use my Bank of the West iPad, iPhone app at a McDonald’s or motel’s Wi-Fi and how do I know if my app is using https or not? I should note that our devices are Wi-Fi only – no data and the Bank of the West, my example, has always seemed very security conscience. Thanks.

Well, to answer the question in the middle of this, “How do you know whether your app is using https or not?”

The bad news is you don’t.

And there’s no way to tell which technique a mobile app on an iPad or an iPhone, or on an Android device may use to confirm that it’s using secure connections.

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Does cleaning cookies force me to re-verify my bank login?

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Hi, Leo. I believe that every time I run CCleaner, my bank doesn’t recognize me anymore. I then have to go through a whole rigmarole to get on to my account. It’s been suggested that the cause is that I’ve erased the cookie that my bank site has planted and therefore it doesn’t recognize my PC anymore. I use Firefox on XP. Do you agree? How can I identify its cookies so that I can isolate it so that CCleaner will not erase it. If you don’t agree then, what do you think is the problem?

No, I agree completely. It’s absolutely the case that banks and other systems where you need to log in make heavy use of cookies to aid you in the process to further secure your machine – or to just make it possible for you to go from one page to the next without having to log in for every single page. So, yes, cleaning out the cookies, especially if you’re cleaning out all cookies, does exactly what you’ve described. It will force your bank to go through those extra steps.

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Does installing lots of programs destabilize my computer?

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I try to limit the number of programs I install on my system. It’s a 64-bit Windows 7 system with SP 1 and 12 GB of RAM. I do this because I feel intuitively that the more programs I install, the more quickly Windows reaches that corrupted state that we all know too well, and has to be reinstalled from scratch. I really could make good use of quite a number of programs I don’t have installed but I worry about hastening corruption. I do assume that I can load as many portable applications as I like without worry. Am I on the right track? Or is my thinking just incorrect?

Installing lots of software is usually not a terribly destabilizing thing. Sure, there can be bad software out there. It’s usually not the amount of software but the specific software that ends up causing problems after you install it. Obviously, the best approach to saving yourself from those kinds of scenarios is a good backup system.

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