The rise of mobile apps and online stores has made it easier than ever for consumers to shop from their phones without the need to step into a store. But hackers and digital thieves have taken notice of the pool of mobile data as a growing opportunity for larceny.
Part of the reason for this is poor data practices by app developers — the storage of payment and personal data in apps — which leaves customer details ripe for the picking from devices. The other is the lack of good security practices by consumers. Whatever the cause, it’s an attractive target for fraudsters.
“Shopping apps are close to financial apps in what they store,” said Andrew Hoog, CEO of mobile security testing company NowSecure. “They store user names, passwords, credit cards, geolocation data and even buying habits.”
With that in mind there plenty of steps consumers can take to protect their data this holiday season. One of the steps Hoog recommends is avoiding public Wi-Fi as much as possible when making mobile purchases. The reason for this is by their open nature, public hotspots aren’t secure, and it’s easy for an attacker to either pose as a fake access point and gather data from connected users.
The next step is using a strong PIN or passcode with their device. About 43 percent of smartphone users don’t use any form of PIN, pattern lock or passcode, NowSecure data show. It’s also important to use strong passwords with mixed-case characters, numbers and symbols.