Mobile Payments

By: IC

Making mobile payments has been touted as the easiest, most convenient way to make payments. Using a mobile phone, money can be sent to pay a variety of bills with just the click of a few buttons. It's supposed to be much like sending payments from your home PC, but it can be done from anywhere you happen to be. Making mobile payments is easy and it is convenient, but it's certainly not a safe way to send money.

Most cell phone transactions are simply not being sent with the kind of encryption that will keep their users' data safe. Many of the access points being used to send wireless payments are completely unencrypted. About a quarter of them use no encryption while many of the remaining access points are using poor encryption methods that leave customers' data vulnerable. Vulnerable data means a loss of crucial financial information that can then be used by anyone who has it.

When you use your credit or debit card at a store's point-of-sale payment terminal, the data from the card is often stored in the terminal. How that information is transmitted back depends on what system the store itself is using. Often it is not the safest method, but stores generally have some type of security in place. Most physical retailers use some type of security method to keep credit card data safe. Some of those systems aren't as powerful as they could be, but there is protection in place. The same can not be said for many of the wireless payment methods. Data is often left completely vulnerable to anyone who wants it. Some methods of protection, such as GSM, provide a small layer of protection. But, many if them can be cracked easily by someone who knows how. GSM is known to take just a few minutes to penetrate.

When searching for data to steal, many thieves look for chinks in a retailer's security armor. This is often an access point that has not been configured correctly. Often when a wired payment network has wireless functions added, this can lead to data being leaked to anyone out there seeking it. The result can be either identity theft or the customers' financial data being sold to countless people who all use it for their own purposes.

Mobile payments have become an enormous part of the cell phone industry. A high percentage of consumers are moving to phones and service providers who offer mobile payment service. In a recent study, the majority of consumers said they were willing to drop a service provider who didn't offer this service.

While stores themselves have stepped up their own physical security to keep up with advances in technology, they don't seem as willing to do the same to keep their customers' data safe. Anyone considering making mobile payments should be aware of the risk they are taking each time they take advantage of that convenience. The results of stolen data can be far less than convenient.

Technology
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 

» More on Technology