5 major mobile payment security risks, and how to solve them

After Apple launched Apple Pay in 2014, making mobile payments more convenient, many companies joined the digital payments landscape, including Samsung Pay, Android Pay and Google Pay. However, despite technologically advanced protection, mobile payments are often prone to intrusions by hackers. Below are some of the biggest mobile payment security risks and ways to protect yourself.

1. Lost or stolen phone

Today, smartphones hold everything necessary– credit cards, contact information, calendars, personal photos, social media accounts, and other personal data. Hence, misplacing your phone can be a major problem, especially if it ends up in the wrong hands. It also can provide access to credit and bank accounts via a mobile wallet and payment apps.

Solution: Most smartphones today contain built-in security protections; it’s a good idea to use them to protect your phone and mobile phone wallets. Instead of a single authentication method, opt for a two-factor authentication process to unlock the phone through facial recognition, fingerprint and iris scan options, and the PIN. Using a strong password also helps strengthen the security of a phone.

2. Say no to public Wi-Fi

A variety of malls, airports, restaurants, stores etc., offer public Wi-Fi, which is unsecured, increasing your chances of being hacked. Avoid adding cards, making purchases or transferring money on an unsecured network, as cybercriminals are rampant on these platforms to steal account numbers by deceiving registration systems. 

Public charging stations, such as airports and coffee shops, also pose an additional threat as hackers can load malware into shared charging stations through “juice jacking”. Any information shared through such public networks or stations is available to anyone, provided they know about hacking. As a result, your mobile payment information is at risk of being stolen.  

Solution: Mobile payment services should be used only on private networks, your carrier’s cellular network, or VPNs.

3. Using old hardware and software

Even if a mobile app is secure, a user’s device might not be. This is primarily because some consumers use lower-end devices running older versions of Android and iOS, making these devices vulnerable to known attacks and an easy target for hackers. 

Solution: This can be addressed through new smartphone technologies in your payment apps, such as fingerprint scanners, face and voice recognition, and geofencing, all of which require a user’s biometric or geographical data and prevent fraudsters from logging into a user’s account from an unknown device and making payments.

4. Avoid dodgy websites, platforms and apps

Another major security risk comes from untrustworthy or unknown websites, platforms and apps. Even though your mobile pay platform may be secure, it won’t make much difference if a malicious app is downloaded onto your device. Such apps may contain viruses, worms, malware, etc., thus compromising all your personal information—your contact list to your credit card data.

Solution: It’s essential to do some basic research regarding the site or app you want to open by examining the privacy policy, security measures, and the platform it is featured on, apart from checking reviews.

5. Beware of malware

Cybercriminals have long been using malware to remotely manoeuvre computers, smartphones and other devices to gain access to a device and steal the financial data stored inside it. A malware infection could occur when a user unwittingly clicks on a sketchy ad or a phoney link sent by a malicious third party. At its worst, malware can take complete control over a device. 

Solution: When it comes to malware, smartphones are safer than computers. The best way to stay secure is to avoid clicking on links included in suspicious ads, emails or text messages from unfamiliar sources. It is also prudent to install anti-virus software on your phone as an extra safeguard.

Mobile payment security concerns are still at large amongst businesses and consumers alike. If you’d like to know more about minimising fraudulent payments and data breaches and securing your online transactions and payments, get in touch with us at https://flrs.co.uk/telecoms/secure-phone-payments/.