As smart phones become more and more powerful, and their capabilities expand, most peoples need for a traditional computer will dwindle. Therefore, it is vitally important to stay safe when paying for things online when using your mobile device. So, if you’re planning on making payments on the go, there are some tips you really need to take on board:
- Stay away from public Wi-Fi
This is an issue that is almost unique to mobile users. If you’re in a café, or out on the street you’ll more than likely have 2 or 3 different public Wi-Fi options in any one spot, which is great. But, when it comes to sensitive information it can be extremely dangerous. The very nature of a public Wi-Fi means that anyone can get on it, which means that practically anyone can gain access to the data being passed on that network, which includes your device. The best way to approach this is to never have anything on your phone on public Wi-Fi that you aren’t ok with everyone seeing, if it’s personal, make sure your network is personal too. The best alternative? Secure your internet connection, or use your mobile internet.
- Secure your internet connection
It doesn’t matter if you’re on a network at home, or your mobile internet, using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) or other encryption service really does help to keep your information safe. A VPN works in the same way as a firewall would on your computer, instead it protects your connection as opposed to your device. When making a payment this will mean that no one can watch the transaction you’re making, or connect to your device without your permission.
- Don’t enter card information on the go
Using services like PayPal, Google Wallet, or WePay means that there is almost no need to enter your credit card information when you’re using your mobile. Although the same internet connection risks apply, it is far more secure to keep your password for that site, than to be entering your card information each time. Firstly, all of these services offer insurance on fraudulent payments just the same as card companies do. Secondly, you can easily change your password every month, but changing all of your cards every month would be totally impractical. Finally, they also stop the risk of people looking over your shoulder. If you are in a busy place and get your card out long enough to read the data, anyone could be reading the same thing you are.
- Keep your device securely locked
According to a Google survey, 52% of android users have no passcode on their phones, with roughly the same number being true of Apple users. If you are using any kind of payment service on your phone, or even log in to your accounts, then you need to make sure that your phone is securely locked every time you put it down, or put it in your pocket. If you can get to your payment information online without entering a password, then so can someone else. So make sure you log out of sites when you’re done, and ensure your phone needs a password to unlock every time it is out of sight.
- Anti-virus software
Just like you would for your computer at home, you need to make sure your phone is safe. Your phone can get infected via any number of different channels, from fraudulent apps, to dodgy video sites. This means that there could be something lurking in your phone that lets someone see and access everything you a have, including the information you enter into sites. Make sure you have an anti-virus software installed. Most major companies like Norton, or AVG have their own apps you can download, but there are plenty of others that specialise in mobile security like Ikarus or Qihoo. Apple products largely come with their own virus protection, so there is less of a worry there.
- Only use official apps
When inputting any sensitive information, especially payment details, into an app it is essential that you make sure you have the official app. The vast majority of fraudulent or infected apps on app stores are those pretending to be payment services. The first thing to check is that your bank has an app, if it doesn’t you can be sure there will be fraudulent apps pretending to be that bank, so be careful. The best way to navigate around this is to go to your banks official site and find the link to their app on there, that way you know you are getting the right one direct from your bank.
- Ensure your browser doesn’t store your information
Most major browsers have some form of auto-fill option on them. This can be an incredibly helpful tool, especially when entering mundane lengthy information on your mobile keyboard. However, it is important to make sure that they aren’t storing your card details, as many will try to, either automatically, or ask you every time. There are a couple of ways to stop this; either find the applicable settings and turn them off, although sometimes this can mean that no information of any kind is stored. Or, enter the “Private browsing” or “incognito” section of your browser that stores no information whenever you are entering something sensitive.