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Convenience or security? Weaknesses in mobile payments wallets highlighted

When out in public try to use mobile data where possible. If for any reason you need public Wi-Fi, only connect to websites via HTTPS.

The Chinese government has called for stronger oversight and better security in the financial tech and payments sector - Copyright AFP/File STR
The Chinese government has called for stronger oversight and better security in the financial tech and payments sector - Copyright AFP/File STR

It is generally accepted that a mobile wallets is more secure than a physical wallet (assuming a person leaves their home). Digital wallets, while offering convenience, are at the risk of fraud. It has been estimated that 20 percent of current fraud cases attributed to digital wallet hacking schemes, and this form of cyberattack is growing.

To help protect your mobile wallet, Uswitch.com mobile expert, Rehan Ali, has explained to Digital Journal about some important safety tips.  These are:

Protect your passwords

Ali explains: “Most modern devices are protected by biometrics, such as Face ID or Touch ID. These can be set up to authenticate purchases with Apple Pay and Google Pay. Despite biometrics being considered secure, a strong password is still the safest way to protect your mobile wallet. You can switch to alphanumeric password protection in your mobile settings.”

He clarifies further: “A strong password should contain at least 12 characters, including a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, punctuation and special symbols. Each of your passwords should also be random and unique. Always lock your mobile phone when not in use. If your mobile phone is lost or stolen, locking your mobile will help to protect your stored data from being accessed.”

Download software updates

Updating a smartphone with the latest software updates is essential to enhance the device’s security features. Updates are developed not only to improve phone functionality but also to fix any security issues that have been identified.

Ali explains how this practice helps to stop hackers from accessing personal information, including credit card details.

Never use your mobile over an unsecured Wi-Fi network

Public Wi-Fi networks can be vulnerable points of access. Hackers may be able to access a connection and collect details stored on a device, including those in the digital wallet.

Ali recommends: “When out in public try to use mobile data where possible. If for any reason you need public Wi-Fi, only connect to websites via HTTPS. These encrypt anything you send and receive from the website and will show ‘HTTPS’ within the web address. Also, make sure to remove your stored cards from your digital wallet for additional security.”

Review your transactions regularly

Logging onto your internet banking and regularly checking your statements is key to spotting unauthorised transactions.

Ali’s advice is: “If you notice any unfamiliar or suspicious activity in your account, it is important to contact your bank immediately. Your bank will be able to cancel your card to stop any further transactions and in some cases may be able to reimburse you for the amount stolen.”

Take action if your phone is lost or stolen

A recent study by Uswitch.com found that more than half of people have lost or had a mobile phone stolen in their lifetime.

This leads Ali to recommends: “If your phone is lost or stolen, contact your credit and debit card providers immediately to cancel your cards. Doing so will prevent anyone from using the cards in your mobile wallet to make a purchase. For extra precaution, you should also wipe all data from your device by visiting Find Devices on iCloud.com or your Google account on Android”.

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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