Don’t Get Scrooged: 8 Tips to Stay Cyber Safe While Holiday Shopping On Your Tablet or Mobile Device

More people than ever will be doing holiday shopping from smartphones and tablets this year. Follow these eight tips to shop safely and securely.

With the holiday shopping season in full swing, consumers are reaching for their smartphones and tablets to satisfy their shopping needs.  In fact, nearly seven in 10 (68 percent) of smartphone owners will use their devices for holiday shopping and a staggering 88 percent of mobile users engage in some kind of mobile commerce year-round.

As an increasing number of holiday-related financial transactions migrate to connected devices, cyber criminals have taken notice and are targeting shoppers.

Shopping online and using mobile shopping apps while in the store may make holiday shopping easier; however, it also puts us at higher risk to be a victim of identity theft and other internet crimes.  Follow these tips to shop safely and securely this holiday season:

  1. UPDATE YOUR SOFTWARE BEFORE SHOPPING
    Almost every release of software patches a number of security vulnerabilities that are out there. So before you start shopping, it’s a good idea to download the latest software for your device.
  2. AVOID PUBLIC WI-FI
    Avoid unencrypted public wireless networks. From coffee shops to the mall, we’ve become accustomed to having free access to the Internet just about anywhere. The problem is, it’s easy to forget how vulnerable that makes us to security threats. Such Wi-Fi networks require no authentication or password for access, so anyone can log-in–including the bad guys. Besides avoiding connecting to unencrypted networks, turn off Wi-Fi when you’re not using it. This will prevent you from automatically connecting to networks (and has the added bonus of extending your device’s battery life).
  3. SAY “NO THANKS” TO RETAIL SPECIALTY APPS
    To prevent losing personal or business-related data, avoid downloading and using specialty apps from retailers.  Shopping through your mobile browser instead is more secure.  But be sure the URL to the shopping site starts with “https,” which indicates a secure connection with the site to protect important data, such as credit card numbers.
  4. DON’T GET “HOOKED” BY PHISING SCAMS
    – During the holiday season, you may get emails and text messages that promise great deals and prompt you to click the link in the message. The first thing to remember is to check the email address and the phone numbers carefully before you click on any links, make sure that you know the sender and that this is not a trick. The majority of these emails and texts are scams, if an offer seems to good to be true it probably is.
  5. GO STEALTH
    Actually visiting a brick and mortar store this season?  Turn off your data.  Why? Because retailers can track you through your MAC address (unique to your phone) using the store’s WiFi system, to determine your favorite department, how long you linger in house wares, and if you’re a repeat visitor. So if you don’t want to be tracked the answer is simple, turn off your WiFi.
  6. DON’T BROADCAST YOUR CREDIT CARD NUMBER
    If some one helping you shop asks you to text them your credit card information so they can use it to pay for something, DO NOT DO IT! Texting your credit card information is just as safe as standing in a crowded room and yelling the information at the top of your lungs for everyone to hear. You wouldn’t walk into a store and shout out your credit card number, would you?
  7. STEER CLEAR OF SCANNING APP
    Be leery of scanning. Bar codes and Quick Response (QR) codes promise easy comparison shopping through various apps that use your smartphone to scan an affiliated code. They may promise savings, but they are extremely vulnerable and simply taking a picture of one can riddle your phone with malware or direct you to malicious websites.
  8. PROTECT YOUR DEVICE
    Consider bolstering your mobile device with security hardware. Hardware-anchored security solutions like KoolSpan’s TrustChip, reside in their own isolated environment away from security threats that often reside in connected devices and platforms. This means that every data and voice call or message is encrypted with a secret, unique series of numbers, keeping your information safe from hackers that loom in software-accessible systems.