One of the reasons phones have become so "smart" is that we live in a fast-paced world where time is such a valuable asset. Are you always on the go? Good thing now you have your finances at your fingertips. Paying bills, shopping, transferring money, checking your bank account – you can save up time and energy by just doing all these things from your phone, no matter where you are. Your money can be just as "mobile" as you. But this major convenience has its downside: it poses high risks to your mobile security.
Mobile Money Overview
Mobile money has a broad span, covering all sorts of banking and transactional services via a mobile device. Want to send money to a relative from another city? You can use your phone. Want to buy a cup of coffee, but you forgot your wallet at home? Now you can use your phone to pay for it. Want to check your bank account balance? Most banks have a special mobile app you can install and use it to do mobile banking.
Mobile phone banking has grown a great deal since the autumn of 2008. According to data from Future Foundation research company, the number of UK users adopting banking by mobile phone has risen from 4.3% in 2008 to 9% in November 2010. 2011 has also seen a rapid increase in this form of banking. Alongside banks, credit card companies, mobile network operators and online payment services such as PayPal and even Google have put in place mobile payment/transactional systems. While all these developments enable regular mobile users to save time that they can use for leisure, criminals leverage them to come up with new scams to breach their mobile security and steal their money.
How to prevent crooks from stealing your mobile money?
Although most of the mobile payment services are safe, cybercrooks have found a way to crack the security systems of known mobile payment services such as Google Wallet (at the beginning of 2012, Google Wallet’s PIN system was cracked twice). Which means, with all these developments, the mobile security of people using these services is at higher risk than before. If you are one of them, or plan to adopt this mobile practice you must know all the risks you’re facing. More so, since mobile payment systems are not standard… yet, and differ greatly from one service provider to another.
Take note of the following:
1. Use a lock for your mobile device – a PIN/password or an app with a lock/unlock feature that you can use to block your phone remotely in case it gets stolen or lost. BullGuard Mobile Security 10 comes with such a feature, as well as the possibility to track your device and adjust the mobile security settings to your needs from an online interface which you can access from any device anywhere. Provided it’s internet-connected, of course.
2. Make sure the mobile apps you use for payments and banking are safe and legit. In fact, make it a golden rule for any app you want to download: go to trusted sites only, check the app’s ratings and carefully read its permission requests and reviews from other users.
3. Try to find mobile payment apps that issue an immediate electronic receipt. This way you can keep tabs on your mobile payments and bank account. If you don’t use such apps, check your statements regularly. Ask for shopping receipts and confront them with your bank statements.
4. Turn off your Wi-fi, Bluetooth or any other connections when you don’t use them. Also, if you use Near Field Communication apps (example: Google Wallet) which enable you to just wave your phone within a few centimetres over a special reader at the register, make sure you turn them off when you don’t use them.
5. Keep your mobile operating system up to date and don’t root your phone. If you do, it becomes more vulnerable to exploits from hackers and malware, including mobile spyware. These malicious intruders can steal your financial data stored on your phone(bank account credentials etc.) or intercept text messages. Which means the need for powerful mobile security software installed on your phone is even stronger. BullGuard’s mobile security app comes with mobile antivirus and antispyware features to detect and keep away nasty mobile banking Trojans and spyware, and protect your identity and mobile money.
These 5 good practices are just the first step to take in ensuring the safety of your mobile money. As prevention is better than cure, make sure you’re always up to date with mobile developments, the mobile security risks they pose, and ways to counter them. Just follow BullGuard.