Stay Safe with Smartphone Shopping – 13 Tips for Shopping Online and in Stores Using a Smartphone Securely and Safely
Shoppers can enjoy safe smartphone shopping by following basic cyber security measures – many of which are free. When it comes to online shopping your payment information is your most crucial asset Protecting their phones smartphone when shopping online by scrutinizing the websites and limiting installed apps, encrypting personal communications, protecting payment information, and the use of avoiding public WiFi. Although no phone or app is guaranteed hacker proof, you can certainly make it difficult for someone to break into your phone and steal your money.
How Do You Buy Online with a Smartphone?
People have many ways to buy online including. Shopping on ecommerce websites, using retailer’s mobile sites, using mobile shopping deal apps designed for browsing and shopping e-commerce stores are all ways to buy online. It’s also possible to buy online through games and messaging apps. But it’s very important to be careful which sites and apps you give your payment to. Not all sites and apps are out to steal your money, but many sites gather your personal information and then resell it to earn advertising income.
What Is A Mobile Wallet?
One of the best apps to protect your smartphone when shopping online is to use a mobile wallet for payment both online and in person Mobile wallets are available for all Apple and Android devices. These apps let users upload payment information including credit cards, debit cards, bank cards, and PayPal and store them, encrypted on the phone. Mobile wallet users don’t have to present a physical card at a brick-and-mortar checkout or re-enter the credit card numbers online.
The payment recipient does not see the full payment information card numbers. The recipient also does not get any personal information about the shopper like address or past shopping habits.
READ: How to Unlink a Payment Method from Android Wallet
Be Careful with App Downloads
Be careful downloading apps to your smartphone. You should only download apps from the official Google Play store or Apple Store. That way there’s a far lesser chance that the app is malicious or infected. There’s no guarantee that downloading from an official app store is safer. You should never download another app or game from within a game you’re already playing.
Don’t Jailbreak or Use Unofficial App Stores
Don’t jailbreak your iPhone or root your Android phone to circumvent security measures. Many smartphone users want to install a custom operating system on their phone so they can control or remove certain apps. Wireless providers install their own apps – known as bloatware – that cannot be removed. For example, Verizon installs their own Verizon app plus other games that I simply don’t want to use.
When users jailbreak or root a phone for greater control over aps, they may make their phones more vulnerable to hackers. Phones with alternate operating systems are not included with security upgrades.
Check the Website URL
Look carefully at the URL or web address of the store you’re shopping on. Hackers setup spoof websites that look just like legitimate retail sites in hopes of tricking shoppers. Hackers steal personal information and payment information using fraudulent websites. Check the URL in the web browser. Read carefully and double-check again to make sure you have not made a mistake in spelling. Don’t click links in emails for shopping. Go directly to the website and begin shopping from there.
Beware of Spam Emails
Be on the alert for spam emails and phishing emails attempting to steal your payment information, personal data, or login credentials During busy shopping times of the year like the holidays, hurried shoppers are not necessarily so careful with the deals they click in emails and the websites they shop on. Play it safe and go directly to the Retailer’s website rather than clicking on the link in the email.
Use Strong Lock Screen Security
Set a password, PIN, FaceID, thumbprint or other login protection on your smartphone. Protect your phone, all the apps on it your personal information, contacts and payment information stored on your phone with a password, two-factor authentication biometric login or a PIN. That way if your phone is ever lost or stolen, everything on it will be protected.
Even if you don’t shop using your smartphone, it contains a wealth of information about you and the people you know. Contact information such as email addresses, phone numbers, and information found on social media profiles is very valuable to hackers.
READ: The Most Common Hacked Passwords
Log Out of Apps
Logout out of all apps when you’re done using them. If someone gets a hold of your phone and apps are logged in or set to remember usernames and passwords, then whoever has control of your phone can get into social media accounts, read your private emails, or possibly get into banking apps.
Protect Your Data
Don’t sign up for every single deal website or download random apps to get a discount coupon. Beware of agreeing to sketchy terms of service. Scrutinize who you give your personal information and your payment information to. Many websites immediately sell customer names, email addresses, and shopping history to advertisers and other sites that they have relationships with. Selling collecting and selling personal information is big business.
Your smart TV may be recording conversations in your home or office. A smart TV is equipped with a camera may actually be identifying people in your home with facial recognition. Other hardware like Ring doorbells monitor people who come to your door as well as people who innocently traverse your neighborhood. Videos may or may not be shared with police or the entire neighborhood.
How Can I Protect Myself When Shopping Online?
Download a mobile security apps to protect your data and your phone. Find an antivirus app and a malware removal tool – they may be available as one combined app. Protect your phone, apps, and all the information on your smartphone with an antivirus app. A malware remover is needed in case the phones becomes infected. This will help you protect all the information on your phone. The apps may also give you a heads up if you’ve downloaded a malicious app or help you recover control of your phone if it is locked in a ransomware attack.
Use the Latest Version of Your Mobile Browser
Update your phone’s operating system and all apps with the latest security patches as soon as updates are released. This is one of the easiest and a free way phone owners can protect the information on a phone. Hackers often take advantage of security bugs in operating systems and apps to steal people’s money and identity. Download new versions of all software and operating systems as soon as they become available. Although sometimes updates are only released to upgrade features, patches often fix critical security issues.
READ: What is Tor Browser?
Avoid Public WiFi Networks
Avoid using public WiFi connections even if they have a password. If you use a public WiFi connection anyone else using the same WiFi is able to intercept and decrypt the information transmitted to and from your phone. Hackers can intercept WiFi network communications with simple apps and tools found for sale on the internet just because a WiFi connection in a coffee shop has a password does not make it to care.
Use a VPN
If you must use a public WiFi connection, then use a virtual private Network or VPN to encrypt your data and communications. Using a VPN will protect the information sent from your phone including email conversations, photos, and payment information.
Encrypt Your Communications
Encrypt your communications including email and messaging apps by using encrypted SMS text and messaging apps. I use Signal to send all text messages. But in order for the message to be encrypted, the other person must also be using an encrypted messaging app. This is known as end-to-end encryption. If any part of the communication chain is not encrypted, the entire conversation can be intercepted. Use messaging apps that have end-to-end encryption like WhatsApp, WeChat, and Telegram I like to use WeChat for encryption because WhatsApp and messenger are owned by Facebook which is notorious for invading user privacy.