The Importance of Mobile Security
Perhaps because it was Friday the 13th, this past weekend was particularly unlucky for at least 2 smartphones. My own was accidentally abandoned at a swanky hotel after-party following Dallas’ Autumn Ball (and quite a few vodka sodas), while my friend Reaghan’s was missing-in-action for about an hour before being unceremoniously discovered in the middle of the street with a fat tire tread across its case.
Thankfully, we were both able to salvage our trusty devices eventually. Still, we were left with a few phoneless hours where our smartphone dependence became blatantly evident as we spent the better half of 15 minutes deliberating how we could possibly split the takeout bill without “Venmo”. Only then did the phone technician from iCracked, (an ingenious company that fixes phones via house call) sympathetically offer up a suggestion that was just crazy enough to work. Apparently the existence of physical money had slipped our minds.
However, it’s reassuring to know that we’re not alone in our reluctance to scrap the smartphone. A new survey conducted by Prospers Insights and Analytics on behalf of the National Retail Federation reveals that almost half (46.1%) of holiday shopping (both buying and browsing) will be done digitally this year, with mobile shopping accounting for 36% of purchases. (Tweet this stat.)Unfortunately, while eager shoppers flock to the Internet to spread Christmas Cheer, online criminals, like an army of cyber Grinches, will also be poised and ready to defraud unsuspecting shoppers.
Flaunt unparalled data security this holiday season. Follow these 10 cybersecurity tips for the savvy smartphone (or tablet, laptop, and even desktop) shopper.
Shop Securely with These Mobile Security Tips
1. Don’t Click Email Links: Also called "phishing", this is the oldest trick in the book for cyber-scammers. Don't be fooled by emails offering amazing deals, even if it is from a well-known site. Instead, visit the website directly to search for the sale. If you don't see it there, then the email is most likely a scam.
2. Only Enter Credit Card Information on sites with SSL Security: SSL (secure socket layer) security ensures that a website is secure. Before you enter any personal information, make sure that the website URL begins with https:// and not http:// The "S" signifies that the website is secure.
3. Pay with Credit Cards Only: Using a credit card rather than a wire transfer or other non-plastic payment allows you to dispute an item on your bill and report any fraud to your credit card company, possibly freeing you from any false charges.
4. Ensure Your Antivirus is Up to Date: That way, if you do happen to end up on a malicious site, you have the best protection available. Also ensure that your browsers, plug-ins and apps are patched and up to date as well.
5. Use a Modern Web Browser: The latest versions of Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari will offer protection against malicious activity and help steer you away from suspicious websites.
6. Practice Password Prudence: (Try saying that three times fast.) Avoid using weak or default passwords for any online site, and try to use a different password for each site you visit. A handy tip for creating memorable yet complex passwords is to make a “passphrase” e.g. “Alaskais2cold”
7. Be Wary of Banking Emails: If you receive an email that asks you to download a new banking certificate or token because yours is out of date, call your financial institution using a phone number that is not provided in the email in order to verify its sincerity.
8. Keep a Paper Trail: Save all your records of online transactions, including receipts, product descriptions, terms of the sale, and any email transactions with the seller. Also read all your credit card statements carefully and report any discrepancies or suspicious charges immediately to your bank.
9. Use Secure Wi-Fi: While it may be tempting to knock out a little holiday shopping in your local Starbucks, you should avoid sharing any personal or financial information over an unsecured network (one that doesn’t require a password for access.) You never know who else could be lingering on a Wi-Fi hotspot.
10. Dedicate a Computer for Financial Accounts: If possible, dedicate one computer solely for accessing financial accounts and paying bills. This computer should not be used for surfing the web or emailing—as these are the main portals for cybercrime.
Now go forth and shop, armed with the knowledge to sidestep cybercriminals and the satisfaction that you don’t even need to put on pants to kick your holiday shopping’s butt this year.