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Friday, June 25, 2021

Buying and paying with your cell phone: how to make it safer

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Although it was already popular, e-commerce has seen a sharp increase with the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is becoming more common to even use the cell phone to buy products, pay bills or transfer money online. But what is the safest way to do it?

The possibility of buying, selling, paying bills or making transfers without having to move sounds ideal, especially in times of coronavirus, when it is constantly suggested to us to avoid leaving home unless it is really necessary. It was already a growing practice, smartphones made it even more accessible and, finally, the COVID-19 pandemic finished installing it. 

However, just as e-commerce has risen sharply in the face of quarantines to curb the spread of SARS-CoV-2, so have online fraud and scams, and cybercrime is a latent danger when proper precautions are not taken.

In this context and with advanced technology, it is never too much to review the tips to continue making purchases and payments in a virtual and secure way. According to the cybersecurity company ESET, you also have to be attentive to the news that constantly appears to deceive Internet users. 

What are the dangers of buying and paying online?

According to a survey conducted by the US Federal Reserve, only 26% of all payments were made in cash, while the number rose to 65% for payments with credit cards, debit cards, and online electronic payment methods

Surely you know and have used some of the most popular applications to pay online, such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, PayPal, Venmo and WeChat Pay are among the most popular mobile payment applications

  • The passwords

One of the biggest risks of paying through your mobile phone or computer is that, if these devices are lost, there will be sensitive information available that could fall into the wrong hands.

Therefore, one of the tips that the company gives is to correctly protect the information that you decide to place online, to prevent cybercriminals from having more easily access to your bank accounts or virtual payment networks. 

“In addition to ending up with an empty bank account or overloading the balance, the incident can damage the credit rating with the bank, with other consequences, such as the difficulty in obtaining a loan or mortgage in the future,” ESET officials explained.

For example, one of the most effective ways to protect your personal data is by choosing a smart key.

  • Beware of viruses

Another danger that can arise using electronic devices are the possible viruses that can be installed on your cell phone or computer. Some of them are used to hack your passwords or access credentials for the payment applications you use.

Some viruses are especially dangerous, as they appear under the guise of rogue applications that then track the user’s personal information. For example, ESET discovered a virus that pretended to be an application to optimize the performance of a cell phone battery, but in reality, what it did was log into the user’s PayPal account and transfer $ 1200 to the account of the attacker. 

  • Cyber ​​scams

Cyber ​​scams are always a possibility. The methodologies are multiple but, in general, the scammer pretends to be a trusted person and then asks the victim for money. 

There are also fake coupons and sweepstakes, scams through dating applications, and even those that pose as your bank or the company responsible for the mobile payment application. 

How to buy and pay online more securely?

Smartphones have different security measures depending on the model, and for your digital wallet to be more secure, the best thing is to use as many as possible.

“This includes enabling biometric unlocking (face scan, retina scan, fingerprint scan) and pattern lock. Once this is done it is difficult for someone to enter the phone or use the payment applications, as these require the user verify their identity every time they want to access them, make a transaction or buy something”, they specify.

In addition, they point out that Android and Apple brand devices have functions to find the phone that allows it to be tracked remotely in case it is lost or stolen. Both also have the function of erasing data remotely. 

On the other hand, most payment applications also have various security features, such as double factor authentication and other additional measures. The biometric and pattern locks can also be activated so that it asks you before making any transaction in the app. Activating notifications every time a payment is made is a way to monitor the movements of the account, and to find out in case someone else is wanting to use it. 

To avoid downloading rogue applications, ESET said that it is safer to examine the details of what is being installed to avoid downloading an app that is actually a virus. One way to do this is to check the permissions they request to download. Antivirus and security products are a good complement to your computer or cell phone.

“Using services like Apple Pay or Google Pay is a bit more secure than using a real credit card with contactless payment because these services do not provide actual credit card numbers to the merchant; instead, they only provide names of virtual accounts that are generated for each payment,” says ESET malware researcher. 

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