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Warning: Tips for Secure Mobile Holiday Shopping

Follow these tips to shop safely and securely and not have your holidays ruined by malware or phishing scams.

I’m dating myself, but I remember when holiday shopping involved pouring through ads in the Sunday paper, placing actual phone calls from tethered land lines to research product stock and availability, and actually driving places to pick things up. Now, holiday shoppers can do all of that from a smartphone or tablet in a few seconds, but there are some security pitfalls to be aware of.

According to data from Monetate, an ecommerce technology company, holiday shopping between Black Friday and Cyber Monday was actually down from PC Web browsers this year compared to 2010. However, holiday shopping from mobile phones more than doubled from 3.1 percent to 7.36 percent, and holiday shopping conducted from tablets skyrocketed from 1.06 percent to 4.68 percent.

Clearly, mobile devices are becoming a part of the mainstream holidays shopping arsenal. It is interesting that the Monetate data indicates click-through and conversion rates are lower on mobile phones, but tablet usage is very similar to traditional PCs.

Comodo predicts that roughly 18 million people will do holiday shopping from a smartphone this year. The security company offers up some suggestions to help shoppers avoid scams, fraud, and malware for a safe and enjoyable holiday season.

Ensure that websites used to shop and search for gifts are secure

Shoppers are using mobile devices and special holiday shopping apps to find the best deal. Most users don’t have the same sort of security controls in place on a mobile device that they have on a PC, so it is important to be aware of the sites you are visiting. Stick with sites you know and trust. Obscure sites with great bargains may seem like a good deal, but could be a fraud or phishing scam.

Ensure that mobile devices have necessary security protections

On that note, you should also make sure you are taking appropriate security precautions with your mobile devices. The risk for mobile devices in general is lower than on PC platforms, and varies from one mobile OS to another. You may not necessarily need to install security tools on your mobile device, but you should at least make sure you use the built-in security controls to protect your device(s) as much as possible.

Ensure connections are safe

Mobile shopping is often conducted over public Wi-Fi networks--at a coffee shop, mall, hotel or airport for example. Mobile holidays shoppers should be aware that those connections are often insecure, and that sensitive information like credit card numbers may be intercepted if transmitted unencrypted. Make sure you are connecting to websites using encrypted HTTPS connections. For additional protection, Comodo also recommends that you use its wireless security tools. In the days prior to Black Friday, Comodo offered users tips for safer holiday shopping.


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