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I've been tracking my budget the old way for a few years now by using Excel spreadsheets that have my checking account ledger and monthly expenses broken down to categories. But I have noticed more people have moved to using apps to track their budget and some of these also connect to their bank accounts, which to me seems sketchy. Isn't this a big security risk?

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    I think it's a security risk. "Don't tell anyone else your password!" That's why I stay with a spreadsheet (though I merge the two sheets into one).
    – RonJohn
    Sep 13, 2019 at 12:35
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    This might be better suited for security.SE vs money.SE.
    – dwizum
    Sep 13, 2019 at 12:59
  • @dwizum thank you for the heads up, I'm not trying to break procedure here. Sep 13, 2019 at 13:01
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    I'm not sure you are actually breaking procedure, there always seems to be a gray area for questions like this which cross the topics of multiple SE sites. I just wanted to point out that security-related questions might get more/better responses there. The community-moderated format of SE sites means there's usually some subjectivity anyways.
    – dwizum
    Sep 13, 2019 at 13:04

3 Answers 3

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Some banks offer a separate login which has read-only permissions. I've seen it called an "app login" but your banks may call it something else.

See an example (I'm not endorsing this particular service): https://www.betterment.com/resources/app-specific-passwords/

When you are asked to generate a new app password, Betterment’s interface will then generate credentials for you to use to input into the third-party application, such as Mint or TurboTax. By entering this password, the application will get access to the data it needs in a read-only format, without providing full access to your Betterment account.

For banks that don't offer a feature like this, don't share passwords. Track those accounts in your spreadsheet or switch banks.

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  • I recently realized the risk I had incurred by tracking my 401k (without this feature) in a budgeting app. Stopped tracking, changed password, feel much safer. Sep 13, 2019 at 14:13
  • To build on this I was directed to this question on SE Information Security security.stackexchange.com/questions/198005/… which is also worth a read. Sep 13, 2019 at 14:28
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I can only speak to the software I use, but I have no reservations since:

  • The connections between the software and bank are encrypted (HTTPS)
  • The usernames and passwords are encrypted locally (it requires a master password to enable the sync)

In addition, my bank requires two-factor authentication to create a connection.

So in my case (again, I can't speak to all apps) this two-factor authentication gives me a peace that it's secure - meaning that no personal information (to my knowledge) is transmitted over-the-wire unencrypted.

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Yes it's a security risk.
Don't do it unless you trust the app and their developer.

I use mint, I trust them, they display a lot of information that's extremely useful.

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