Our phones are our connection to the world, and increasingly, our businesses. Using your personal phone for business emails is one thing, but what about when you start running payments for your business?
Accepting mobile payments for the goods and services your business sells using the smartphone or tablet device you already rely on to support your business and personal life is convenient and cost-efficient — but it also presents an increased need to proactively protect your mobile device from cybercriminals.
Here are a few simple ways to make sure your phone is safe.
Think before you click
In January 2015, Litmus reported that about 53% of emails are now opened on mobile devices. Though checking your email on the go can help you stay connected to business needs, online scammers commonly send bogus email messages with malware links. If you presume an email is legitimate and click on such a link, you may invite malware into your device.
Once mobile malware is installed, the data you enter into your phone — including your own sensitive information and that of your customers in a mobile payment transaction — could be intercepted by cybercriminals. Take an extra moment to verify the legitimacy of every email. Never click on an email link on your mobile device unless you are 100% confident it originated from the recipient indicated.
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Know who created an app
Though mobile apps can offer enhanced security compared to mobile web browsers, cybercriminals are adept at replicating fraudulent (and very convincing) app versions that look very similar to the legitimate app. Because it can be tough to determine the real version from the counterfeit, do your research before you download from an app store.
Whenever possible, download directly from the app vendor’s secure website. If the link redirects you to an app store for download, take precautions: read the reviews by customers; Google the name of the app provider to identify any suspicious reports shared by other users. Be aware of the permissions you allow apps to access in regards to your social networks, too — especially for social media profiles that include your birthdate and personal contact information.
Don’t accept any activity you didn’t originate
One of the most common ways mobile device security is compromised with mobile malware is user-permitted activity. If you authorize apps to send “push notifications” to your device with activity updates, don’t assume they all are legitimate.
Cyber criminals may send a notification with a link in the hopes that a mobile user will click on the link, simply to clear the notification from the mobile device’s screen. With that innocent lapse in judgment, all the information you access and input using your mobile device is made vulnerable.
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Don’t delay software updates
Installing operating system software updates to your mobile device can take time (and battery power). For mobile users who rely on their devices to support their business activity, this inconvenience may mean delaying the update.
Yet, mobile operating system software is often updated for security reasons, particularly if engineers have detected security vulnerabilities, and released “patches” into the latest version for the security gaps identified. Until your phone is protected with the most secure software version, it’s vulnerable to cybercriminals.
Plan to lose your phone
Smartphones and tablets are made to travel, but that inherent mobility feature also increases the odds that they can be lost, or stolen. Remember that your mobile device is only as vulnerable as you leave it for potential thieves. Use unique passwords to limit access to your device, and install software that allows you to disable your device immediately if lost or stolen.
If you access mobile websites or apps that include your sensitive data (like financial accounts) familiarize yourself with each institution’s processes for reporting an account as compromised, so passwords and account numbers can be reissued quickly, even if don’t have access to your “home computer” or a phone number the institution can verify belongs to you.
Though choosing a reputable mobile payment provider that is Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliant can help to ensure that sensitive customer data is protected during transaction processing, you’re responsible for keeping your mobile device secure as well. With these simple tips, you can enjoy the convenience mobile payments offer your business, while minimizing security risks.