Surfing sales on Cyber Monday with your mobile device? Stay safe with these tips


Cyber Monday is nearly upon us. In the span of 24 hours millions of people will run to their devices to capitalize on some of the best sales of the year.

While the digital sale-rack ravaging is at its peak, we suspect security will not be top of mind for most, especially on mobile.

In 2014, Cyber Monday sales rose eight percent from the year before and mobile users contributed hugely. Over 40 percent of overall Internet traffic on Cyber Monday came from mobile devices, according to research from IBM. Indeed, over 22 percent of sales came from mobile devices — a 27 percent jump in mobile purchases for the day from 2013 to 2014.

Mobile devices play a clear role in online shopping habits, but there are many misconceptions about what is safe and secure on mobile devices and what is not. That’s why we put together a list of mobile shopping safety tips ahead of Cyber Monday so you can be prepared.

Only shop on an HTTPS website

It’s a little cumbersome on mobile to see whether you’re surfing an HTTPS site. Most mobile browsers will show the same lock icon in the upper right- or left-hand corner of the address bar. If you want to double-check to make sure, however, you can usually click on the address bar and scroll over to the beginning of the URL.

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.

If you’re buying through an app, make sure it’s from an official app store

Many third-party app stores do not properly vet the applications that are published to their market. This means repackaged apps and those masquerading as popular apps sometimes slip through. For example, you might think you’re downloading a popular e-commerce app, but instead are getting a fake version that actually pushes you aggressive advertising and maybe even roots your device. Only download your shopping applications from official app stores such as Google Play and the Apple App Store. If you want to go a step further, check the developer name to ensure it is from that company, and check the reviews for any reports of fishy behavior.

Set up a pin for your device

Sure, you hear this piece of advice all the time, but that’s because of how important it is. 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. On a day like Cyber Monday when you’re regularly inputting your credit card information and logging into sensitive accounts, you’ll want to make sure no one else can quickly grab your phone and access that same data.

Don’t store your credit cards in your notes

Whether it’s in the notes app that comes with the device or one of the many popular note-taking services out there, you should never store your credit card information in your phone. It might be easier to copy and past those 16 digits as you make your Cyber Monday purchases, but it’s not worth it. If your phone is lost or stolen — especially if you don’t have a pin on it — so are your credit cards, effectively. 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.

Keep your credit cards safe in a wallet and off your phone.