Cyber Monday is nearly upon us. In the span of 24 hours, millions of people will run to their mobile devices to capitalize on some of the best sales of the year.
While the digital sale-rack ravaging is at its peak, we suspect security will not be top of mind for most, especially on mobile.
In 2014, Cyber Monday sales rose 8 percent from the year before and mobile users contributed hugely. More than 40 percent of overall Internet traffic on Cyber Monday came from mobile devices, according to research from IBM
. Indeed, more than 22 percent of sales came from mobile devices – a 27 percent jump in mobile purchases for the day from 2013 to 2014.
Mobile devices play a clear role in online shopping habits, but there are many misconceptions about what is safe and secure on mobile devices. That’s why our friends at Lookout
compiled a list of mobile shopping safety tips ahead of Cyber Monday.
Only shop on an HTTPS website
It’s a little cumbersome on mobile to see whether you’re surfing an HTTPS site. Most mobile browsers will show the same lock icon in the upper right- or left-hand corner of the address bar. If you want to be sure, however, you can usually click on the address bar and scroll over to the beginning of the URL.
While nothing is perfect, most HTTPS sites encrypt your communications so that eavesdroppers won’t be able to do their snooping.
If you’re buying through an app, make sure it’s from an official app store
Many third-party app stores do not properly scrutinize the applications that are published to their market. This means repackaged apps and those masquerading as popular apps sometimes slip through. For example, you might think you’re downloading a popular e-commerce app, but instead are getting a fake version that actually pushes you aggressive advertising and maybe even roots your device
. Only download your shopping applications from official app stores, such as Google Play or the Apple App Store. If you want to go a step further, check the developer name to ensure it is from that company, and check the reviews for any reports of fishy behavior.
Set up a PIN for your device
Sure, you hear this piece of advice all the time, but that’s because of how important it is. It might be an inconvenience to input a PIN or swipe your finger in a certain pattern before you can access the contents of your mobile device, but it’s a major safeguard for your privacy. On a day like Cyber Monday, when you’re regularly inputting your credit card information and logging into sensitive accounts, you’ll want to make sure no one else can quickly grab your phone and access that same data.
Don’t store your credit cards in your notes
Whether it’s in the notes app that comes with the device or one of the many popular note-taking services out there, you should never store your credit card information in your phone. It might be easier to copy and paste those 16 digits as you make your Cyber Monday purchases, but it’s not worth it. If your phone is lost or stolen – especially if you don’t have a pin on it – so are your credit cards, effectively. There are a number of applications that access note apps as well. Email services often sync notes, and there are any number of productivity plug-ins that connect to note-taking apps to help you access things like to-do lists in a number of different places.
Keep your credit cards safe in a wallet and off your phone.
Install a security app on your device
Just in case you do download an unwanted application or visit an unsafe website, you’ll want to download a security app, such as Lookout
, that can alert you before anything bad happens. These apps identify unsafe activity on the device and help you remediate the situation as quickly as possible. They also often have features to help you if your device is ever lost or stolen, which is a definite possibility in the hustle and bustle of the holidays. Sprint offers Lookout for iOS
devices, available preloaded on certain Android devices, in-store and online.
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Amy Johnsonbaugh is a communications manager for the Apps and Services team at Sprint. Based in Orange County, Calif., she is a mobile lifestyle expert who can answer questions related to Sprint-branded or third-party consumer applications, music/entertainment applications and family service applications. Amy can be reached at email@example.com.