| Individuals November 21, 2016

November 21, 2016

Fake apps, identity theft, and 7 tips to keep your data safe this holiday shopping season

By Lookout

Man mobile shopping during the holidays
If the twinkle lights on trees and the familiar tunes of carols emanating from coworkers’ earbuds haven’t given it away already: we’ve officially entered holiday shopping season.
This means you may be likely to use your mobile device to purchase presents for your family and friends. It’s more important than ever to be vigilant while making purchases on your mobile device in order to avoid mobile scams.
IBM quotes the rise in mobile shopping on Black Friday 2015 saying, “Mobile shopping habits shifted noticeably ... marking the first time smartphones generated more sales than tablets, mainly by stealing device share from desktops.”
While people are seeing the benefits of mobile shopping — ease of price comparisons in-store, convenience to shop anywhere anytime — opportunistic criminals are seeing potential benefits, as well.
Fake apps
In anticipation of the holiday season, Lookout researchers have seen a number of fake apps pretending to be from a specific brand, but really steal information, such as credit card numbers. Lookout Researcher Andrew Blaich recently spoke with Good Morning America on the topic:
Screen Shot 2016-11-18 at 4.08.38 PM
Whether it’s the allure of Cyber Monday — which saw a 53% rise in mobile sales, or around $838 million, in 2015 — or the annual process of checking off your shopping to-do list, millions of people are expected to pull out their smartphones and tablets to buy items. In fact, mobile applications are the predominant way people access the internet today, according to Comscore data.
Use these tips to avoid being duped by a fake app:
  1. Always check the developer account. If an “Michael Kors” app is the only one on there, or if there are unrelated and questionable apps associated with the account, beware.
  2. Check the reviews. Many sketchy app developers will try to inflate their reviews or rankings. Look a few pages back to see if there are any complaints.
  3. Go to the retailer’s website. Oftentimes the retailer will link to its application from the website. Some retailers will actually detect that you are visiting their website with a mobile device and prompt you to download their app instead.
Identity theft
Identity and data theft is a big problem — with over 12.7 million people in the United States having experienced identity theft in 2015. A Lookout survey recently revealed that nearly 40% of people say identity theft is “inevitable,” and that credit card numbers, financial information, and email addresses are among the most commonly stolen pieces of information.
We asked people about their experiences with identity theft:
The spike in online shopping during the holidays is a huge incentive for criminals to put their tricks to use. Use these tips to keep your data yours:
  1. Be vigilant about where you are entering your information. Only shop on “HTTPS” websites. While nothing is perfect, most HTTPS sites are safe to use, encrypting your communications so that eavesdroppers won’t be able to do their snooping.
  2. Lookout provides a “Premium Plus” package, which includes identity theft monitoring and a 24/7 concierge recovery service that will handle the otherwise time-consuming process of restoring your identity, should it be compromised.
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Physical device security
Our phones help us live our daily lives, so it’s no question that we’ll be pulling them out to help us buy presents for friends and family. Just like any time of the year, however, there’s a chance we’ll accidentally leave our phones in a dressing room, in the bathroom at the holiday party, or in the cab on the way back from the holiday party. Even worse? Those non-digital “opportunistic criminals” may be on top of their pickpocketing game.
Make sure you:
  1. Set up a pin for your device. It might be an inconvenience to input a pin or swipe your finger in a certain pattern before you can access the contents of your mobile device, but it’s a major safeguard for your privacy.
  2. Don’t store your credit cards in your notes. You may be tempted to store your credit card numbers in a notetaking app — easy copy-and-paste for shopping online — but it’s not worth it. There are a number of applications that access note apps as well. Email services often sync notes, and there are any number of productivity plugins that connect to note-taking apps to help you access things like to-do lists in a number of different places. You don’t want to accidentally hand out sensitive information.
Happy holiday shopping from all of us here at Lookout!
Lookout can help you protect your identity, monitor for your personal information on the dark web, alert you to data breaches, warn you about risky apps on your device, and more. Interested in checking us out?
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