With over 80 million users, Venmo is a top-tier peer-to-peer money transfer app. Even after a decade, it distinguishes itself by adding social elements into transactions. On Android and iOS, users can view, like, and comment on friends’ transactions—it’s like virtually paying for a coffee or movie ticket.
Venmo offers everything you’d expect from money transfer apps. It ensures quick transfers, has an easy-to-use interface, and links to your bank account. But when it comes to security, it lags behind competitors. This raises a question: Is Venmo safe?
Let’s look at how Venmo keeps your money safe and the risks.
Understanding Venmo’s Security Features
Venmo claims that it offers bank-grade security systems that are regularly checked and approved by industry-leading security experts. The company uses encryption to protect all financial transactions, both when they’re in transit and when stored. It uses several encryption methods, including Single Sockets Layer (TLS/SSL) and AES 128-bit encryption.
The company also uses the Perfect Forward Secrecy (PFS) algorithm to enhance the protection of encrypted communications. If, by chance, a hacker gets a key from one of your Venmo sessions, they cannot use it to unlock other keys. So, even if there are security issues, PFS and firewalls ensure that your past and future Venmo sessions remain safe.
Venmo’s multi-factor authentication adds another layer of protection. A unique code is sent to your registered phone number, and only upon entering this code can you access your account. Plus, any unusual activity on your account triggers an email alert. For instance, a login from a new location will make Venmo’s security system immediately notify you.
For those seeking even more security, Venmo gives you optional security features. You can set up a four-digit PIN, use Face ID (for iOS), or a biometric unlock (for Android) on your app.
The Security Risks of Using Venmo
Even while Venmo has taken steps to increase security, some vulnerabilities still could allow accounts to be compromised. And at the top of the list of vulnerabilities is Venmo’s public transaction histories feature.
In 2018, Venmo users found that their transaction records were open for all to see, thanks to the app’s default settings. Hang Do Thi Duc, a Berlin-based privacy researcher, shed light on this by revealing on Public by Default that almost 208 million Venmo transactions were publicly accessible on the app’s global feed.
posted a dataset on Github
of seven million Venmo transactions in 2019. These transactions revealed the names and pictures of both parties, the transaction’s timing, its purpose, and any accompanying text or emoji. The only detail kept under wraps was the transaction amount.
Interestingly, even President Joe Biden’s account was shared by the public before it was promptly deleted. While Venmo does allow users to privatize their Venmo transaction histories, many need to be made aware of this feature and other security best practices.
Like other payment apps, Venmo is also a target for phishing attacks. Cybercriminals often aim to steal users’ credit card and login details. Users need to remain alert and stay protected against potential Venmo scams.
How Does Venmo Respond to the Security Risks?
Upon discovering the issue with transaction histories, Venmo’s spokesperson mentioned that sharing transactional data is “fun” due to the app’s social nature. Sounds a bit vague, right?
On the bright side, Venmo is always improving its security, making it harder for scammers to take advantage.
Best Practices for Ensuring Safety on Venmo
Despite Venmo’s reputation as a leading peer-to-peer money transfer platform, addressing its security issues is critical. Remember, this platform handles transactions amounting to millions of dollars.
The most glaring challenge is the app’s public transaction history, which is a significant security and privacy concern. Additionally, the threats of scams and potential password breaches cannot be overlooked.
It is crucial to set your transaction history to private to protect your Venmo account’s security. Moreover, enabling two-factor authentication, only transacting with people you know, and employing strong, complex passwords can also help you boost your Venmo account’s protection levels. You can even add a PIN code to the app, meaning if someone gets access to your phone, they cannot open the Venmo app without entering the correct PIN.
Venmo Isn’t Watertight
While Venmo isn’t outright unsafe and has some great protective features, it’s worth noting its security issues and do what you can to secure your transactions and private information. If you use Venmo regularly, consider some of the tips above to keep yourself safe while using the app.