Mobile devices are the backbone of American life. We rely on these devices for everything — calls, texts, emails, social media, pictures, videos, banking, maps and productivity. But, the growing popularity in mobile technology brings vulnerability for data theft and online crimes. Our phones hold everything, so there is no better place for thieves to snatch up our data.
If you don’t own a smartphone because of security concerns or already use one and simply want to improve the safety of your data, here are some of the biggest trends in mobile security this year:
Paying with NFC (near field communication) is the newest way to complete transactions in retail. Systems like Apple Pay and Google Wallet use the NFC signal to send credit or debit card information from your smartphone to the point of sale in stores across the country.
Normally, sending out credit card numbers over the air is enough to make anyone nauseous, but Apple put a few barriers in place to make this practice easy and effective. First, the transaction uses a third-party number that communicates between your phone and the register, so your actual credit card number never leaves your device. Second, the iPhone requires a fingerprint for permission to complete payment, so even if someone did steal your phone, they couldn’t use your Apple Pay account.
Carriers have your security in mind because it improves the overall health of their network. The Big Four mobile carriers typically partner with developers to create native apps that keep your phone safe and warn you against possible intrusions. For example, T-Mobile partners with an app called “Lookout” that does just that. So whether you use the iPhone or an Android like the Sony Xperia, your carrier likely has ways to make using a smartphone safer.
Our phones rely almost entirely on cloud data to function. Our apps, bank accounts, pictures and social media accounts are all pulled from the cloud when we need them on our smartphone. But, that back-and-forth data can leave it vulnerable. That’s where two-factor authentication can help.
Two-factor authentication works by having something you know plus something you have. For example, the something you know is your password and the something you have is your phone, which acts as a token to gain access to your accounts. When you log in to an account using two-factor authentication, a four to six digit pin is sent to your phone, which is then used to complete the login. Because the extra step is sometimes seen as an inconvenience, the process is optional, meaning you have to set it up.
Last year, Apple’s iCloud suffered a major setback when sensitive photos of a number of celebrities were hacked and leaked to the public. The criminals obtained these photos by gaining access to the celebrities’ passwords. In response, Apple extended two-factor authentication to all its services.
Although security on your smartphone can be a real concern, if you keep up on the latest solutions, you don’t have much to worry about.