Security fears over m-commerce

More and more consumers are using their smartphones to perform the same functions as their computers or wallets – yet the vast majority do not take the same precautions to protect their information on their mobiles.

According to new research from PayPal Australia, one in six (16 per cent) of Australian smartphone users have lost, misplaced or had their phone stolen in the last year, but only 30 per cent remotely wiped their data after losing their smartphone and less than half (43 per cent) changed their online passwords. Many Australians have not even set up a first line of defense for their smartphone as half (49 per cent) of Australian smartphone users don’t use a passcode on their mobile device, according to the secure payments provider.

In support of National Cyber Security Awareness Week (NCSAW), PayPal and the Centre for Internet Safety at the University of Canberra (CIS) have called for Australians to stay vigilant with their smartphones as they would their personal computers and wallets. Australians increasingly use smartphones to store a substantial amount of personal data, from bank statements to calendars to social networking profiles.

PayPal protects the financial information of its 4.5 million active Australian users by ensuring that their personal details are never stored on the physical device but stored online, safeguarded by PayPal’s world class anti-fraud system.

Prashanth Ranganathan, director of mobile security and risk at PayPal is in Sydney this week in support of NCSAW, speaking to industry stakeholders about the need for consumer education as mobile payments becomes increasingly prevalent.

“Australia is among one of the largest mobile markets in terms of smartphone penetration[3]. Australian consumers are increasingly using their smartphones to shop and pay while on the go but are unaware of the size of the digital footprint stored in their smartphones. By transacting through PayPal, consumers are provisioned with an additional layer of protection by ensuring their personal financial information is never stored on the physical device and never shared with businesses they are transacting with,” Ranganathan said.

Australians are keen to take advantage of the mobile convenience of smartphone technology, but according to PayPal’s research are not protecting themselves beyond the home. Smartphone owners were three times more likely to be more mindful of the security of their wallets than of their smartphones and one in three (36 per cent) stay logged into mobile applications.

Alastair MacGibbon, director at CIS said: “With over 12 million Australian smartphone users expected in 2012, criminals are now making moves to target mobile users. Australians must stay alert and ensure they protect themselves across all their devices. As the technology evolves and more Australians use their smartphone devices to fulfill a wider range of functions, consumers need to keep an eye out for fraudulent encounters and be educated about ways to safeguard their smartphones from cybercrime.”

Jeff Clementz, MD of PayPal Australia said: “With 4.5 million active users in Australia, PayPal is committed to protecting the personal information of its customers by ensuring their financial information is never shared. Australians now expect to be able to shop and pay no matter where they are, whether it be in-store, online or via their mobile. Consumers need to ensure they are armed with the knowledge and tools necessary to protect themselves while enjoying the convenience afforded by new technologies.”

PayPal and CIS have listed key tips to help consumers better protect themselves while transacting on their smartphones:

  • Set up your first line of defense – Enable a unique passcode so that your smartphone automatically locks when you’re not using it.
  • Know who you’re transacting with – Use reputable mobile sites and applications. Look out for trust cues like the padlock symbol before entering your financial information.
  • Watch out for duplicate applications – Cyber criminals take advantage of trusted brands by creating free applications that mimic the company’s official application. If you’re unsure, always download the application directly from the company’s website.
  • Know how you’re connected – Use a secure network to transact online and watch out for people looking over your shoulder while using free Wi-Fi networks.
  • Keep track of what you’re sharing – Be aware of the permissions your applications request from you. Review permission requests carefully and only share information that you are comfortable sharing.
  • Don’t store sensitive data on your device – never store sensitive financial data on your smartphone.

If your smartphone is lost, stolen or misplaced, remember to:

  • Remotely wipe your data – Enable this feature at purchase so that you can use it to your benefit if you lose your device.
  • Immediately change your passwords – Change your online passwords for the mobile apps and websites that you automatically sign into, such as email, calendars, social networking sites, app stores, messengers, video sites.
  • Get help – Contact your provider or manufacturer and enquire about mobile tracking or whether they can disable your phone on your behalf.

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