An inside look at the apps we so blindly trust.

If I asked you to tell me your bank account number, your email password, or your social security number off the top of your head would you be able to? No, and why bother to remember when your phone does for you. I would bet that most students on this campus have loads of important information right on their phones. Why do we do this? I couldn’t tell you but I can tell you it could create various problems for each of us. 

When we surveyed a group of SJU students we found the overwhelming majority used the same money transferring app. Though it is definitely convenient to stay on the same platforms as friends, it benefits us to question just how secure the apps with a monopoly over our lives are.

Banking and Money Apps

To start getting students thinking, we surveyed 64 SJU students on HawkChill’s instagram asking what banking app they used. 91% of those students replied with Venmo. After researching Vemno’s security, I found that it is pretty common to have information or money stolen from any type of mobile banking app. 

For most of these mobile transaction apps you have to connect your debit or credit card, and even your bank account. They also give the option to stay logged in or remember your password, which sounds convenient but can be dangerous. 

While I found more evidence of scams being the norm, it doesn’t take much time to find the security breaches I bet each company is trying to hide. These are apps we are blindly trusting out of convenience, but I encourage you to think about the repercussions they could bring. 

There are so many ways this can go wrong. Sometimes the dangers of mobile banking are closer to home than potential hackers. Many off campus SJU students pay rent through venmo or paypal. Venmo’s default process is to make a payment public unless changed, therefore students off campus putting “123 Overbrook Ave December Rent” are allowing anyone to see their own address. 

Passwords

Screenshot of students notes app. Credit: Anonymous

Now let’s talk passwords. I spoke to multiple SJU students who choose to remain anonymous, but all have admitted to keeping important information, like passwords, in their notes app. Unless a user opts to enable the 2 step authentication process for logging into your iCloud account, anyone with your apple ID and a guess to your password is most likely going to be successful in getting in. This is alarming for those types of people that keep a running note of every password they have, or their parents credit card information for emergencies. 

Screenshot of iCould Keychain in settings. Credit: Lily McStravick

“Keychain” is an Apple created service that will store every password you create in one spot for you. You may think that saving your passwords to Apple’s new Keychain feature is smarter because of facial recognition or touch ID, but with one google search I found ways to hack into your Keychain information as well. 

Photos

Screenshot of the iPhoto application. Credit: Lily McStravick

iCloud is a mac developed program to create more space in your phone. It typically stores all pictures so you can access them from all of your devices by just logging in. SJU students all admitted to having extremely private information within their photos from parents credit cards, to health insurance information, and even  pictures of social security cards. I was curious to see if it was possible for someone to quickly and easily gain access to the things we keep in what we think is a safe place. With one google search I found “Panspy” “mSpy” “Spiyer” “Spyic”  “Cocospy” “Minspy” and “Spyine”. These 7 different apps are each designed to specifically hack into someone’s phone camera and camera roll, and all you have to do is make an account. 

My purpose of all of this is not to scare you into thinking you will get hacked today, but to get everyone questioning the convenience of our technology storing every piece of our lives for us. I hope this can serve as a wakeup call to some readers to be more cautious about the way we are trusting our phones. Apps we all use every single day have had security breaches and released thousands of users information and we still trust them anyway.