21 Feb 2020

The Top 3 Security Risks for Mobile Payment Methods (& How to Stay Safe)

Technology is making payment methods more convenient every decade. First, there was chip technology in credit cards. Now, the newest payment options have done away with physical plastic altogether.

Mobile wallet options like Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and Chase Pay cut down on the need to carry a wallet around in addition to a cell phone. However, many individuals and business owners alike are worried about the cost of that convenience when it comes to online security.

Are Mobile Payment Methods Safe?

Depending on the situation, almost any payment method can be risky. Schemes in which fake credit card readers are fitted over regular card readers in locations like gas stations aren’t uncommon. It can be unsafe to carry too much cash because you become a better target for mugging. For a while, chips in credit cards and some debit cards caused concern because people were worried about others carrying around chip readers that could steal their information from a short distance. 

The newest technology always comes with this question: is it safe? The short answer is that mobile payments aren’t 100% threat-free, but there are some easy ways to manage the small risks that do exist. In fact, some would say mobile payment options are more secure overall than a physical credit card or cash, as long as you have security measures in place. 

 

Risks & Security Tips for Mobile Wallets

1. Losing your devices

These days, losing your phone is just about as dangerous as losing your credit cards. And, when you have multiple devices in the hands of multiple employees, that threat feels a little too close for comfort.

The good news is, a lost device with security precautions in place isn’t usually a big deal for businesses. Here are some questions to help you assess how great your risk is, and a few simple solutions to increase security in case of a lost device.

Questions to Consider:

  • How many devices do you have?
  • Who has access to your devices? 
  • Which devices are connected to payment methods? 
  • Are your mobile devices locked?
  • Do you have a password manager in place?
  • Do you have policies in place about using personal and business devices? (i.e. not allowing business use on personal devices and vice versa)
  • Do your employees understand those rules? Have they been trained on how to protect their devices?

 

Tips for Mobile Device Security:

  • Create an inventory of your devices and who has access to them. Keep track of what apps are used where (and which are allowed in certain places). This way, if a device goes missing, you have all the information on hand to intervene and protect your financial data.
  • Use a biometric locking feature on every mobile device (such as facial or fingerprint recognition) for the highest level of security 
  • Require multi-factor identification on your devices. Or, if that’s too inconvenient, you could require a second verification before you can activate payment methods on your phone.
  • Spend time on educating and training your employees about the safe use of mobile payment options. Set parameters and guidelines and make sure you’re monitoring credit card accounts and business accounts for inconsistencies.

 

2. Malware

In the past, malware mostly only infected computers. However, the threat to mobile users is growing quickly. In fact, mobile cyber incidents are becoming more common than those aimed at desktops. 

Here are a few ways to help prevent your device from being affected by malware:

  • Be careful when clicking on suspicious links on your phone (again, ensure you have employee training in place to help employees spot phishing and malware)
  • Install an antivirus on your phone. 
  • Keep your apps fully up to date to avoid being a target for hackers. Outdated app versions aren’t as well protected against attacks.
  • Look out for app clones when you’re downloading your apps, especially when it comes to banking apps or apps that require a purchase with a credit card number.

 

3. Stolen Card Numbers

This is the last point here because it’s actually fairly rare. E-wallets on smartphones are typically designed to encrypt your data. For example, Apple doesn’t store or have access to your credit card information just because you uploaded it to your iPhone. 

However, one tiny exception to this can happen when you use a public Wi-Fi connection to upload your cards. In this instance, hackers can intercept and decode the information if they’re nearby and on the same network. 

Although it’s a very small chance that your financial details will be stolen this way, be sure to use your own network (a virtual private network is best) to upload credit card information into a mobile wallet.

Get Mobile Smart & Stay Protected

If you’re nervous about mobile payment methods or want to know more about how to use the technology safely, get in touch with an expert managed service provider in Edmonton. Our IT specialists can help you design a simple safety plan for all your mobile devices. 

 

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