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Mobile Christmas Shopping – Balancing Risk and Convenience

 Author(s): John Kendall, Posted 12/21/11

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The ease of online shopping anytime of the day combined with the popularity of smartphones and tablets like the iPad means that this year many consumers will do their Christmas and holiday shopping from mobile devices.

While mobile online shopping is wonderfully convenient, pre-Christmas frantic buying combined with summer holiday laziness (for those of us “down under”) can put customers at risk of cyber-crime, such as scams and phishing attacks designed to enable identity theft and financial fraud.

Consumers need to be sure they are extra vigilant and take some simple steps to better protect themselves.

Did you know:

More of us are shopping online:

More of us are using mobile devices to shop online:

Yet many of us put ourselves unnecessarily at risk when mobile online shopping:

  • Many people don’t take even basic steps to protect the information on the mobile devices – for example the Unisys Security Index found that 6 in 10 Aussies and Kiwis, and almost half of Hong Kongers, don’t secure their mobile devices with a PIN or password (November 2010)
  • Ironically, we also know consumers in Asia Pacific are unforgiving when businesses don’t protect their data, with 85% of Australians, 81% of Hong Kong people and 80% of New Zealanders saying they would cease doing business with the company if they discovered a data breach. So surely we should put the same expectation on ourselves as individuals to take steps to protect our personal information.

Below are some simple suggestions to reduce your risk of cybercrime while shopping online this holiday season.

Tips for safer online shopping:

  • Protect information on your smartphone or tablet by locking it with a PIN or password.  Even better, choose one that is hard to guess and change it regularly.
  • Fully log out of an online shopping account when you have finished with it, so that someone else cannot continue shopping in your name if they get hold of your smartphone or tablet.
  • Only shop on trusted and secure transaction sites. Check the site has an SSL certification, and the URL starts with https:// (not just http://). The absence of an ‘s’ is often an indication of a rogue trader.
  • Be extra careful when creating online accounts via a smartphone as the limited web functionality and smaller screens can make it more difficult to verify the authenticity of online shopping sites.
  • Closely check your bank and credit card statements to identify any purchases that are not yours – if you find any, contact your bank or card provider immediately.
  • Don’t action emails that ask you to enter personal information about your online banking access into a website – your real bank would never ask you to do this.

Seasonal scams to avoid:

  • Too-good-to-be-true promotions, which are actually phishing sites to access all your data.
  • Seasonal screen savers and eCards can carry trojans and viruses, so don’t open them or download unless from a trusted source.
  • Be selective when downloading smartphone apps and FaceBook apps – remember all apps are a software program.
  • Be wary of ‘spirit of giving’ scams that take advantage of people’s generosity over Christmas, asking for donations via emails, tweets or text messages from sources you don’t know.

Cheers,
John Kendall
Unisys Security Program Director, Asia Pacific

NOTE:  This is an opinion piece and is intended only to provide a summary of the subject matter covered. It does not purport to be comprehensive or to render advice. No reader should act on the basis of any matter contained in this piece without first obtaining specific professional advice.


The statements posted on this blog are those of the writer alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Unisys.

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