Authored by a Symantec employee

 

Mobile payment apps are changing the way we do business, but they can also be convenient ways to send money to friends and family. It’s easier than ever to send money to the people who need it, but also easier than ever for hackers to gain access to that money before it gets where you want it. How do you keep yourself and your money safe, while also being able to access the convenience of mobile payment apps?

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How Mobile Payment Apps Work

You can pay using your phone, even without apps. Some companies, such as your phone company, allow you to pay your bill using standard text messaging.

Mobile payment apps are a little different and come in a two main categories:

  • Mobile payment apps using near-field communication technology or NFC.
    This is the type of mobile payment app where you put your phone near an object, sometimes another phone, for the sake of making a payment. Apple Pay and Android Pay are examples of this kind of mobile payment app.
  • Online wallet apps.
    This is where you send your money to a friend or family member without having to hold your phone near theirs or any other object. All you need to send money is someone’s email address. Your bank may offer a similar option.

The difference is mainly in the method of the payment. Is the other person’s phone or some other object required or can you just send the money using an email address or user account name?

Making Sure Your Mobile Payment Is Secure

Of course, if you’re sending money, you’re going to want the application to be secure. Some tips to make your mobile payment app more secure include:

  • Two-factor authentication needs you to enter a password and a second piece of information. Usually, this is a code sent to your phone registered with the mobile payment app.
  • Keep the app updated. One of the easiest ways for hackers to get into your private information is to exploit a known and public vulnerability. App updates patch these holes.
  • Another way that these holes get patched is by your operating system, so it’s important to keep your operating system updated as well.
  • You should also keep all the other apps on your phone up to date. Hackers who have found their way into one app might be well on their way to hacking into the rest of your phone.
  • Check your statements. It’s easy enough to do with a mobile payment system. All you have to do is open up your app and look for unusual charges. Don’t overlook small charges. A lot of times hackers and identity thieves will run trial charges of a few dollars or even a few cents to see if you will notice bigger charges.
  • Internet security software isn’t just for your laptop. It’s just as important, if not more so, for your mobile phone. Once you have Internet security software on your phone make sure to keep it updated.
  • Password protect and, if possible, encrypt the data on your phone. Apps exist that make your phone functionally useless to thieves here in the physical world. These apps often allow you to track down your phone as well, providing an added in-world security benefit.

Your chances of getting hacked or otherwise compromised are relatively low.

They get a lot better when you take common-sense security precautions to protect yourself and your family. By spending just a few minutes securing your device and your app, you can make big strides toward making sure that no one gets between you and the person you want to send money to.

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