Since 2014, mobile payment apps have been simplifying the processing of business transactions. They also make it easier to send money to friends and family, for example to pay for our share of a meal.
As cyber criminals focus on vulnerable technologies in order to make money from them quickly and easily, these mobile payment apps could become a target for hackers. How can you protect yourself and your money while using the convenience of mobile payment apps? Read on to learn how pay mobile apps work and what security flaws they have.
This is how mobile payment apps work
Most payment apps require you to link a credit card to the app so that the information is stored on your smartphone and is available for future payments. When you pay something in a store, hold your phone up to the payment terminal at the cash register. The terminal then reads your saved payment information wirelessly, usually by radio signal (RF), to complete the transaction.
However, you can also pay with your phone without using apps. Some companies, and possibly your telephone company, allow you to settle bills using standard SMS. Mobile payment apps work a little differently and can be divided into two main categories:
Mobile NFC payment apps
This type of mobile payment app uses near field communication (NFC) technology, which requires you to hold your phone up to a terminal to complete the payment. Apple Pay and Android Pay are examples of this.
Online wallet apps
It allows you to send money to someone who doesn’t need to be in the same place. All you need for this type of money transfer is the recipient’s email address. Your bank may offer a similar option. PayPal or WeChat fall into this category.
The main differences between these two options are their proximity or the ability to send money using just an email address or a user account name.
How to make your mobile payments safer
It goes without saying that you value security when using an application for sending money. We have a few tips to make your mobile payment app more secure:
- Use 2FA. With two-factor authentication you have to enter a password and a second piece of information. Usually this is a code sent to the phone number associated with your mobile payment app account.
- Turn off bluetooth. Bluetooth is emerging as a wireless payment option, offering an alternative to RF. Remember that it is safest to turn off Bluetooth and other smartphone features while you are not using them. This can be used to restrict unwanted access to the data on your phone.
- Always install all updates for your apps. One of the easiest ways for hackers to gain access to your private information is to exploit a known and publicized security hole. App updates close these security gaps. You should also keep all of the other apps on your phone updated. Hackers who found their way into an app may be in the process of hacking into other areas of their phone as well.
- Update your operating system. Another way to fill these loopholes is through your operating system. It is important that you also keep your operating system up to date with updates.
- Check your bank statements. With a mobile payment system, it’s pretty easy. All you have to do is open the app and keep an eye out for any unusual charges. Also, watch out for small amounts. Hackers and identity thieves can charge small amounts as a test or try to find out if you notice larger amounts being charged.
- Use security software for mobile devices. Internet security software is no longer just needed on laptops. It’s at least as important for your mobile phone. Software like Antivirus can help protect your phone from malware and warn you about suspicious apps, including those used for mobile payments.
- Always lock your phone. Use the automatic lock screen and create a secure password or access code. Do not limit yourself to physical protection by also encrypting the data on your smartphone.
Stay protected when paying
While the chances of your mobile payment being intercepted are relatively small, you can increase your security by using your common sense and taking some precautions to protect yourself and your family. With an effort of a few minutes to secure devices and apps, you can make a significant contribution to ensuring that your money reaches its destination safely.