UOB introduces new security features on banking app to protect customers, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

UOB introduces new security features on banking app to protect customers

UOB has become the latest local bank to announce greater controls aimed at protecting customers against malware-enabled scams.

It will be rolling out two new security features on its UOB TMRW banking app progressively starting from Wednesday, Mr Daniel Ng, its Head of Group Compliance, said on Tuesday.

Similar security features have already been rolled out by OCBC Bank and Citibank in recent months.

The first update will restrict UOB customers’ access to their UOB TMRW app once any apps or tools that are sharing their mobile devices’ screens are detected. Customers can resume access to the banking app after they have turned off screen sharing on other apps.

This feature prevents customers from unknowingly sharing their mobile screens with scammers when using the online banking app, which may allow scammers to take control of their devices and compromise their banking information.

The second update restricts access to the UOB banking app upon detection of any apps that are downloaded from third-party or unauthorised sites with risky permissions on their mobile devices.

An error message flagging the name of the potentially risky app will be triggered and customers will have to uninstall or turn off accessibility permissions for the flagged apps to resume access to the UOB app.

Mr Ng cautioned customers that the new updates may lead to some inconvenience, but said they are “necessary for enhanced security to mitigate the risks and protect customers’ exposure to malware scams”.

“Customers can be assured that the new security features do not monitor their phone activities, nor collect or store any personal data,” he added.

There were 22,339 scam cases reported from January to June 2023, according to mid-year scam statistics from the police, a 64.5 per cent increase from the 13,576 cases during the same period in 2022.

The Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS) and the Monetary Authority of Singapore previously said that banks had been working closely with government and law enforcement authorities to fight malware scams.

OCBC said on Sept 7 the update in August had thwarted malware scammers attempting to steal at least $2 million from more than 30 of its customers. It added that no losses from malware were reported by those using the updated version of its app.

Mrs Ong-Ang Ai Boon, Director of ABS, had said on Aug 8: “Malware scams are particularly aggressive and pose a serious threat to consumers. Malware scams are often perpetrated through apps downloaded from third-party or dubious sites.”

“In general, consumers who do not take the necessary precautions will be expected to bear the losses arising from malware scams,” she added.