Free time during the Holiday season is a premium. It’s no wonder that more people are deciding to use the convenience of their mobile device to purchase holiday gifts. In fact, the National Retail Federation recently reported that 52.9% of smartphone owners and 64% of tablet owners plan to use their devices to research, and purchase holiday items (http://www.nrf.com/modules.php?name=News&op=viewlive&sp_id=1438).
Many people I talk to are often surprised at the fact that there are real risks to your identity when using your mobile device. I think most people understand there is a risk on their PC, but haven’t heard much about concerns on their tablet or smartphones. While not as prevalent as PCs, viruses do exist on mobile devices. In addition, cyber criminals may target you on your mobile devices for social engineering schemes, like phishing.
So here’s a couple of tips for you to consider about your online safety when using a mobile device.
1. Rogue Apps : some apps can harbor malware which will be used to steal your personal information. Make sure you are downloading the apps from legitimate sources (e.g., Google Play, iTunes) and also take a minute to learn how the application plans to access information on your device to ensure you are comfortable.
2. Keep your operating system update to date: when your mobile device alerts you that a new version of the Operating System is available, consider taking the time to download the update, as it may contain security patches.
3. Utilize Anti Virus software: yes, there is anti-virus software available for mobile devices, especially for Android devices. Downloading this software will help address many of the problems outlined here.
4. Be careful on WiFi: public WiFi hotspots frequently are not secure, and cyber criminals can sniff packet data, which can include your sensitive information. Think twice about making online purchases on any device on public hotspots, if you are connecting to non secure websites (https) and / or if you are not using a secure VPN.
Gloucester County resident Jim Janco is Director of Security and Privacy for Comcast and a father of four children. Read more tips about online safety at xfinity.com/constantguard