Beware the cybersecurity risks of video banking

Register now

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, video banking has seen a rapid rise in adoption by credit unions across the country.

Although credit unions and other financial institutions fall into the essential services category of businesses, video banking was still a smart response to coronavirus that makes a lot of sense when considering the most effective way to keep members and staff safe during social distancing restrictions.

The best part of this is that the implementation of the technology has been met with a fairly positive response from most users, and it’s fairly evident that this trend has continued as more users are trying out video banking in lieu of visits to physical branch locations.

While it is still early to say with complete confidence, this does seem to be a positive indicator of a trend that very well may continue after the quarantines and lockdowns are long gone.

After all, if it provides a high level of customer service and members are able to complete face-to-face transactions without leaving their home — then it doesn’t seem like a stretch of the imagination to see video banking replacing other methods of customer support. This could even possibly replace in-branch visits, particularly as most in-person transactions can actually be conducted through video banking.

While video banking principally relies on technology that is already readily available and can be easily implemented on top of existing infrastructure, it is still a more recent method of member support that has not reached widespread adoption by consumers. COVID-19 is changing that very quickly, but an important question remains for the industry — is it safe?

As with any new technology, it’s critical to consider all possible consequences or misuses of the process that could be exploited to truly ensure that members remain protected within all of their transactions.

The FBI recently issued a warning that mobile banking apps could lead to exploitation of users, which is a signal that the same level of scrutiny should be applied to video banking. Furthermore, credit unions need to be particularly cautious as there is an unfounded perception that their cybersecurity will not be as strong as larger financial institutions, which makes them a preferred target for hackers.

With this in mind, both members and credit unions need to be extremely conscious of the way that they conduct video banking in order to prevent exploitation or misuse.

Members need to be educated about best practices and safety precautions as user activity increases. Common-sense practices such as sharing personally identifying information in public spaces obviously apply here, especially if members are conducting transactions over their phone or outside their home where others can overhear sensitive information. However, more technical safety precautions such as using a secure internet connection to facilitate a video banking session need to be encouraged with users as well.

Safety for video banking doesn’t start or stop with just the members. It is also important for credit unions to have the right technical framework for facilitating video banking, as well as comprehensive guidelines and policies for staff on how to conduct video banking transactions safely in order to truly provide secure service.

While there is opportunity to physically identify members through video sessions, staff need to understand that even visual identification can be faked on a video call and that further personal identification through other methods is entirely necessary to properly defend against manipulation of this type of banking service.

Of course, we don’t need to ring any alarm bells right now as video banking (if it’s properly managed) can be as safe and as effective as any other method of conducting banking transactions, but it is important to highlight that cybersecurity is a real concern that needs to be considered as it emerges as a common form of customer support.

This is particularly true in response to the sudden spike in user activity and increased availability of video banking for credit union members across the country. Video banking very well may change the industry in the long term, but right now we need to build the right habits and frameworks to properly protect every single member in the short term.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, click here.
Digital banking Cyber security Coronavirus Cyber attacks Customer service Customer experience Consumer banking
MORE FROM AMERICAN BANKER