Smartphones provide nearly everything we need for communication, travel, entertainment, and even financial tasks like shopping and banking. With the popularity of payment apps like Venmo, Apple Pay, and PayPal, carrying our wallets is no longer essential. However, there are some drawbacks to using your smartphone for digital currency and online transactions, including the rise in cybersecurity risks. How can we enjoy the freedom and flexibility of these services while protecting our financial resources?
The good news is that you don’t need to be technologically savvy to take the steps necessary to avoid digital currency fraud and theft. It’s a matter of staying alert to potential problems and making use of the security features already available to you. Here are some steps to take to protect yourself.
Choose secure passwords
You’ve probably heard it before — the first step in digital security is to choose a secure password, yet people still choose passwords that are easy to guess, such as 1234 or 0000. It might take some extra organization on your part to remember a long or difficult code, but it’s worth the time and effort to choose strong passwords for your accounts.
Set up two-factor authentication
Turning on two-factor authentication adds a layer of security over a simple username/password login. In addition to your standard login, the app or site will ask you to enter an additional code that is only known to you. These codes are generated on the fly and are usually sent to you by text, email, or phone call using the contact info you provided when you registered. Each code is typically only valid for a short period of time, eliminating the possibility of someone trying to use it hours or days later to gain access to your account.
Utilize smartphone security
Smartphones have built-in security measures to protect you and your data, and these features have become more sophisticated as technology continues to evolve. Take the time to explore what is available on your smartphone, enable the security features, and learn how to use them.
- Fingerprint scans and facial recognition are good security options because they are unique to you and difficult to fake.
- Enable security measures to find or wipe your phone remotely if it is lost or stolen. Learn how these features work before you need to use them.
- Turn on your phone’s Auto-Lock feature. Additional security measures won’t help if the phone is unlocked when you lose it.
Use secure WiFi
If you don’t have an unlimited data plan, saving data is always a priority but tapping into an unsecured WiFi network at your local coffee shop may expose you to security holes. It’s possible for someone to intercept your data and mine it for sensitive information. While there are steps you can take to avoid these security holes, they aren’t always user friendly. At a minimum:
- Turn off your WiFi if you aren’t using it
- Avoid conducting sensitive business over public WiFi
- Never override device protections for public WiFi settings
Avoid phishing schemes
Most people are now familiar with phishing schemes. These scams try to make you think you are responding to a legitimate request for information while stealing your personal details. Avoid phishing attempts by always manually entering a URL rather than clicking on a link, or by calling the number on the company’s website or from a legitimate bill. Rest assured that the IRS is not going to put you in jail for ignoring an email message.
Securely managing your digital currency and online transactions may sound like a high-tech and overwhelming concern for many people, but it doesn’t need to be. Taking the time to set up your smartphone with appropriate security features — and remembering to use them — can go a long way in keeping your information safe online.
Christy Matte is a Boston-based writer and contributor for Xfinity Mobile. She is a die-hard techie who enjoys video games, surfing the web, and any gadget she can get her hands on.