Paying with Your iPhone Safely- Shop Securely and Protect Your Money by Updating Apps, Staying Off Public WiFi, Using a VPN, and Using Apple Wallet
Shopping from an Apple iPhone doesn’t have to be any riskier than shopping from a laptop or other device. As long as you follow basic cyber security practices to secure your iPhone from hackers, you can keep your money and your data safe. Although nothing is 100 percent hacker proof, you can certainly make it very difficult for a hacker by encrypting and securing the data on any iOS device.
Is Paying with Your iPhone Safe?
About half of consumers save payment information in a mobile wallet on their smartphones as of the first quarter of 2019. However, only about six percent consumers pay in stores using their mobile wallets. The majority of shoppers still pay for goods with a physical card – about thirty-nine percent pay using a credit card while 38.7% pay using a debit card. The percentages are almost identical for in-person food purchases.
Update iOS Frequently
Update iOS on your iPhone as soon as any new update is released. Leaving operating systems, apps, and hardware unpatched leaves an iPhone vulnerble to hackers who take advantage of security bugs. Sometimes iOS updates just add new features, but often they patch security issues. If you don’t update your iPhone promptly, it is more likely to be compromised.
Don’t Jailbreak Your iPhone
Jailbreaking your iPhone is a way to access and alter the phones iOS operating system to and to circumvent cyber security protocols. People jailbreak iPhones so they can install apps outside of the Apple store. Jailbroken iPhones were proven to be hackable and expose its Apple Wallet along with other apps and information. It’s not secure to download apps outside official Apple store and the phone is more likely to be infected with malware.
Don’t Save Your Credit Card Numbers on Store Websites
Most online stores offer shoppers the ability to save user profiles online so they can earn loyalty points and streamline the checkout process. Store websites have online accounts that store personal data about the user including home address, phone number, and payment information. Don’t save your credit card numbers on a store website. If the store is hacked then your payment information may be stolen by the hackers.
People often use the same username and password across multiple accounts. If your store account is compromised, then the hacker may be able to access to your username and password to other apps you have on the iPhone. Try using a password manager to protect mulitple accounts – click here for more information.
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How do I use iPhone Wallet?
Use Apple Wallet to pay for purchases. If you use Apple Wallet or any other mobile wallet, you don’t have to present a physical card at the checkout. Apple Wallet also provides a layer of data privacy as retailers are unable to track your personal information and connect it with user profiles and shopping habits. Using a mobile wallet make shopping online and in person far more secure.
When adding a payment card to your mobile wallet, be sure to do that from your home WiFi connection. Never send any payment information over a non-secure or shared WiFi connection.
Is Apple Pay More Secure Than Chip?
Apple Pay is more secure than presenting a physical payment card at the checkout. Typical hackers cannot get past an iPhone Touch ID or Face ID to get into Apple Pay or Apple Wallet.
Shop Only at Secure Websites
When shopping online make sure you’re using a secure website or the store’s official shopping app. Secure websites use a security certificate, commonly called SSL, to encrypt customer information and payment information while it’s in-transit between the shopper’s iPhone or other device and the store website servers. You can tell that a website is secure because it has HTTPS in at the beginning of the website address. You may also notice a lock icon in the browser if the store using HTTPS. If it’s not secure, don’t shop there. It’s not uncommon for a retail website to allow their security certificate to expire, but it only takes a day or so to have it renewed.
Beware of email Phishing Scams
The goal of a phishing scam is to steal money from the target. Hackers phish victims by scaring them into thinking that they must act immediately. Either an account is supposedly compromised, a password needs to be reset, or they are fooled into giving up personal information that leads to identity theft.
Phishing email scams often ask the recipient to reply to the email with personal information or worse yet credit card numbers. Victims may be directed to click on a link which takes them to a spoof website. The malicious website may then begin a malware download or attempt to gather iCloud credentials, Apple Wallet payment information, banking logins, and usernames and passwords from the email phishing targets.
Use a VPN to Secure Your iPhone
Use a virtual private network, or VPN, to encrypt data sent to and from your iPhone. No matter what you are doing online, you should use a VPN all the time. Many people believe that posting and social media is nothing a hacker would be interested in. But the reality is many people reuse the same username and password for an Instagram for their banking app. Download and install a quality VPN app and use it all the time to add a layer of protection for your money and your personal information.
Use Secure WiFi
Be sure to use a secure WiFi connection when shopping from your iPhone. Also use it any time you log into any type of online account. This includes credit card payments, banking apps, checking email, and posting on social media. When you use nonsecure WiFi like that found in coffee shops, retail stores, and hotels you’re making it easy for a hacker to intercept your credit card information and communications while it is in transit. Secure your home WiFi internet connection with a password. If you must use Wi-Fi while you are away from home, then use a VPN to encrypt your data.
Use Two-Factor Authentication
Use two-factor authentication, called 2FA, to add another layer of protection on your iPhone and apps. Two-factor authentication means that you have to take an extra step to access an online account or app. For example, you may have to respond to a text message and enter a code or entering a PIN.
Newer iPhones have Face ID available. Use your iPhones security features to protect your iPhone, Apple Wallet, and all the apps on it from hackers. If your Phone is ever lost or stolen, then no one will be able to get into it easily. You can also add two-factor authentication on all of your apps and logins.
Download Apps at Home
Download all Apple Store apps while using your home WiFi connection. Your private internet connection, when secured with a strong password, is your safest Internet connection. Download all apps, especially a banking apps or mobile wallets from a secure connection. That way hackers won’t be able to intercept your download and send malware to your iPhone.
Update Apps As Soon As Possible
iOS is not the only software on your iPhone that needs to be kept up-to-date. Update your apps as soon as there a security patch. Keeping all of your apps and iOS updated is one of the easiest and most basic steps you can take to secure your iPhone and to make shopping online safer. Hackers take advantage of vulnerabilities in hardware and apps to steal data and payment information from unpatched devices.
Michelle writes about cyber security, data privacy focusing on social media privacy as well as how to protect your IoT devices. She has worked in internet technology for over 20 years and owns METRONY, LLC. Michelle earned a B.S. in Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Michelle published a guide to Cyber Security for Business Travelers