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This holiday season, protect your mobile identity

This holiday season, protect your mobile identity

11/19/2013

Every year, November means the start of the holiday shopping season nationwide, with retailers offering a dizzying array of sales and promotions to cater to the high volume of consumers who are buying gifts for their loved ones - and often picking up a thing or two for themselves along the way.

For years now, some of the best holiday deals have been found on retailers' websites. More recently, with the rapid spread of smartphones and tablets, online shopping has gone mobile, and eCommerce is now giving way to mobile commerce (mCommerce).

However, it's important to remember that making mCommerce purchases means you're sending your payment card information over the mobile Web or through retailers' apps - potentially leaving you at risk of identity theft, should your device be lost, stolen or hacked.

Payment information frequently compromised
Statistics warrant increased caution when transmitting payment data over any servers. A recent study by Javelin and Identity Finder discovered that credit and debit card data was more frequently breached by hackers than Social Security numbers (SSNs).

In 2012, 15.8 million consumers were notified that their payment credentials had been accessed, while 4.5 million heard that their SSNs were compromised, according to the report. Furthermore, 28 percent of those who had either type of sensitive information breached went on to have fraud committed against them as a result.

Negotiating personal and company data
Protecting the identifying information on a smartphone or tablet has become more complex now that bring-your-own-device (BYOD) initiatives mean both personal and corporate data may be stored on the same device.

Companies and consumers alike are aware of the dangers. InformationWeek's 2013 State of Mobile Security report revealed that 78 percent of BYOD firms named devices being lost or stolen as their top concern for mobile security, while only 36 percent were most worried about employees uploading corporate data to their own cloud storage.

That means that employers are more worried about smart devices falling into the wrong hands than they are about mistakes made by employees.

Apple, Google offer increased security
Some reliable security tools are now available on the two major mobile operating systems, iOS and Android.

PC Mag recently spotlighted Apple's Find My iPhone tool, which helps you locate your device in the event that it's lost or stolen. However, the system can't help actually retrieve your iPhone, so you'll have to deactivate it, after which point you won't be able to communicate with it.

Meanwhile, Google announced that it has improved mobile security on Android 4.4. The new OS, which goes by the name KitKat, employs only one virtual private network (VPN) per user on devices that are shared between multiple people. It also features certificate pinning, which can effectively block anyone who might use a fraudulent Google certificate to access an encrypted conversation on an Android device.

While Apple and Google are both doing their part to increase security, neither the manufacturers nor mobile phone insurance ensure that you can manage your data even if your phone is elsewhere. Treating yourself to one of ProtectCELL's identity protection plans, which allow you to remotely lock and erase your tablet or smartphone, can help you enjoy your mobile gift-buying this holiday season without worrying about the repercussions of misplacing your device.

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