I have been using a simple excel spreadsheet to manage and monitor my financial life. It works but is time consuming to populate from all the various sources and makes me feel as dated as the Generation Xer I am.
Recently on the Choose FI podcast one of the hosts announced that it takes him 10 minutes a month to check in on his finances. This sounded almost unbelievable and very desirable.
I decided I need to get “millenialised” and track my finances accordingly. This meant going where I have never gone before… getting financially naked on an App.
I have to confess I have had the Money Dashboard App for the last 6 months and haven’t as yet got myself to even set up my access. I am a tech-phobe who gets totally intimidated by having to learn new technology, so I have to get over that procrastination driver first but even more of a barrier to me using it is my very real fear of my info being hacked, my identity and cash being stolen and ending up in a prison somewhere for a crime I didn’t commit. Dramatic much ? Possibly, but hey, these things keep me up at night!
Armed with my new found inspiration I decided to do some research on exactly how safe these money tracking apps are.
What information do you share with the App
The App collects transactional data and static records from the following:
- Credit card accounts
- Bank Accounts
- Stocks and Investment platforms
The App sync’s with these accounts periodically to keep your financial picture up to date.
The App provider has Read Only access which means although they can download your records they cannot make any changes. The information is downloaded and stored on their Company servers which means you are relying on their security protocols.
I admit I totally trusted my credit card provider, bank and even Facebook to safeguard my data, how wrong I was. “Fool me once, shame on you, fool my twice, shame on me”, I don’t intend making that mistake again. Security must have’s that you want on your App include:
A robust Privacy Statement
This is a long read filled with a lot of words and legal jargon. To focus your review look for how they will deal with your personal data and how it will be protected. You want to be particularly vigilant for words like “sell” and “share”. No privacy statement ? No use!
Clean history of Data Storage
Given the UK’s GDPR rules a data breach is likely to lead to a hefty fine or even prohibition from carrying out their business of data storage. That being said make sure you check that they haven’t been caught out for any lax treatment of data in the past.
End to end encryption
Encryption guards against third party users accessing your information. This is a bit tech heavy and way beyond my comprehension but apparently files in transit should generally be encrypted with 128 bit SSL and 256 bit SSL on the providers server. If the provider is hacked, which incidentally does still happen, and is according to experts mostly as a result of our, the users, poor password control, the hacker will be able to read the display, which is simply the summary of the amount of money in each account. Usernames and passwords are not displayed.
Security ultimately rests on us
We as users, should hold ourselves to an equally high standard of security on any online systems we use. This means use difficult to hack passwords, don’t display them anywhere and don’t disclose them to anybody. Check that all your devices are armed with the necessary anti-virus software and lastly even though you have now effectively outsourced the collation of your data this doesn’t let you off the hook. Be vigilant, check the transactions on your accounts and regularly review your credit report and any changes to it.