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How to stay safe while shopping on your mobile

Tahmina Mannan
Written By:
Tahmina Mannan

Increasing number of savvy shoppers will use their smartphones to bag a Christmas bargain, but online security should not be an afterthought. Follow our top tips for staying safe online.

Over the past few years the UK’s shopping habits have changed drastically, with many using the internet the find the best deals rather than hitting the high street.

Mobile shopping is also on the rise with a third of Brits planning on doing their Christmas shopping using their mobile this year, according to a recent report.

In a separate survey, mobile operator EE found that 71% of users who shopped online did so when they were out and about.

However, consumers are reminded that although mobile and internet shopping is becoming increasingly part of everyday life, careful attention still needs to be paid in order to stay off fraudsters’ radars.

Alicia diVittorio, consumer security expert at mobile app Lookout, says: “In the early 2000s when internet shopping took off, consumers were conscious that this new route to purchase had to be safe. They installed antivirus or other security software on their PCs and were mindful of scams.

“Now, as online shopping has made the move to tablets and smartphones, offering consumers an extremely convenient way to shop, it’s important to bolster consumer trust and confidence. From a security perspective, the concern is straightforward-these devices house more and more of our personal, financial, business and social information. With this comes more value and incentive for the baddies to exploit. It’s important for people to be mindful of risk and follow simple precautions for mobile security.”

With the UK’s biggest online shopping day ‘Cyber Monday’ just around the corner (2nd December), the experts at security and anti-vuris app Lookout offer you some top tips for shopping safely online:

1. Avoid scamy apps: Don’t fall victim to a shopping app scam. Only download apps from trusted sources like Google Play and the App Store. Read user reviews and verify the developer is trusted. Be wary of apps that are free to install but you still have to pay for their services.

2. Only window shop while connected to public Wi-Fi. Public Wi-Fi networks aren’t usually encrypted, which means anyone can capture packets of your data on the unsecured network. Don’t risk it to make that purchase when you’re at the café.

3. Only enter personal information if you see https://. That ‘s’ is the optimal letter – it means secured. Because a mobile browser is tiny, it’s often easy to get caught up in your purchase and not pay attention to the site’s security. Remember that on unsecured networks (those that have only http://), a hacker can easily steal personal information like passwords, credit card numbers and usernames.

4. Look before you leap. Just as you would on a PC, be selective before you click on links in emails, SMS and social networks. Make sure the address matches the website it claims to be. If the SMS with a coupon offer seems too good to be true, be cautious. Mobile security products, like Lookout, will scan links for phishing attempts or malware, alerting you if these are in fact too good to be true.

5. Set a password. One of the most common challenges for smartphone owners is losing the phone and all the personal data on it. Setting a strong password for your phone and enabling the screen auto-lock time to be five minutes is the simplest way to keep your personal information private during this busy season.