For the last few years, the most common way of making a financial transaction has been over the internet. With most shopping now being completed online and 50% of main street banks expected to close, this isn’t a trend that will be changing any time soon. However, the method via which people are doing it certainly is.
Today, we are using our smartphones to browse the internet just as much as laptops or desktops. As we can browse on the go — on the way to work, in the doctor’s waiting room — data from eMarketer suggests that almost half of the world’s population is using mobile internet on their phone. As such, more people are making financial transactions through their phones than ever. The FIS’ senior vice president said himself that in 2014 “mobile will overtake online in terms of number of users”. He also stated that “it already has more transactions.”
While it is becoming increasingly popular, there are still fears among the general public about the safety of using a smartphone to manage your finances. Whether you are purchasing products or making large investments, people are undoubtedly wary of lapses in security or being hit by hackers. That’s not to mention the daunting prospect of losing your device and potentially being a victim of fraud either. But to a large extent, these fears are misguided. It is, in fact, very simple to protect your finances if you are making important transactions from the palm of your hand.
Protect Yourself From WiFi Sniffers
Most people will not take issue with using their mobile data allowance to make a financial transaction on their smartphone. However, there will be times when it’s not possible — if your allowance is running low, for instance, or you are on vacation and don’t fancy spending a small fortune. In these circumstances, the majority of people will find a WiFi hot-spot at, say, a local coffee shop or cafe and manage their finances from there.
What many people don’t realize is that it’s not uncommon for cyber thieves to prowl open WiFi networks. Using a very simple piece of software that intercepts internet signals across a particular network, they can access your device and the data on it. Before you can even finish your coffee, you could potentially be a victim of identity theft and have your internet banking passwords compromised.
This is what is often known as WiFi sniffing.
To make sure you are protected from WiFi sniffers, make sure you find a hot-spot that is password secured and cannot be easily accessed. You should also double check the URL you are using to access a site where you’re inputting confidential information begins with ‘https’ as opposed to ‘http’ . The former is encrypted and provides you with far better security than the latter.
What To Do If Your Smartphone Is Lost Or Stolen
A laptop you use to check your HSBC statement is large enough to notice its absence. A desktop you’ve used to log into your PayPal account should not move from your home. The ephemeral nature of calling the contact number for Mortgage Express means it’s near impossible for personal details to be compromised. But there is one major criticism of using your smartphone to handle finances, and that is how easy it is for the device to be lost or stolen.
Smartphones are so small that they can easily to snatched out of your pocket on public transport or get left behind somewhere without your immediate knowledge. If your personal data is stored on apps or websites there, this becomes an immense problem. Over one and a half million phones were stolen in the USA between 2012 and 2013.
If you are afraid of losing your phone, you could invest in an app like ‘Android Lost‘ or ‘Find My iPhone‘ that will permit you to locate and remotely control it via a PC. They can lock your device, erase the data on it, give you a GPS location of where the phone is and even take a picture with the phone’s front or back camera to photograph whoever is using it.
Be Aware Of Fake Apps
The most frequent way that people bank on their smartphones is via apps. It’s a quick and user-friendly way to do everything from checking your latest statements to making deposits. If you are planning to install one to your device though, don’t rush. Take your time to read who has manufactured the app and peruse the ratings it has been given. This is because a number of fakes managed to appear in App Stores throughout 2013.
Designed to look like the real deal with official logos and emasculate layouts, the fake apps asked customers to enter their password and then allowed its creators to access your real account. The app’s designers could also steal smartphone data such as IMSI and IMEI numbers through this method too.
Most of the fake software has now been eradicated, but you never know when a dubious app could appear again. Therefore, it’s imperative that you keep your eyes pealed for revealing factors should you choose to bank over your smartphone. Most official apps will use a two-tier security system to protect their customers, for example, and will have an authentic fine print.
What do you think of mobile security? Join the discussion here.