The latest survey by NordVPN has shown that 33% of users save banking details on their devices to use them on shopping apps and websites later.
While many customers go for this option out of convenience, cybersecurity experts warn to be careful, especially during the shopping season, as not all methods are equally safe.
People spend billions of dollars during Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and pre-Christmas time, trying to grab the best deals online and save a buck. In 2020, during Cyber Monday, customers in the US spent a whopping $10,8-billion dollars. No wonder that hackers and scammers want to have their share by stealing customers’ banking details.
“Hackers take advantage of users who use unsecure ways to store banking information on their devices. A person who saves his credit card details in an Apple Pay mobile wallet is much safer than one who keeps a photo of his credit card in the gallery or notes on his phone. And the difference between those options is huge,” says Daniel Markuson, cybersecurity expert at NordVPN.
On average 33% of users save their banking information on their devices. And the habits are pretty similar around the world.
NordVPN’s research has shown that almost half of Americans (43,9%) store their banking information on their personal devices, followed by Spaniards (39,3%), and Australians (38%). While the Polish (25%) and Dutch (25,6%) care about their credit card safety the most among the surveyed countries, the percentage of people risking their security is still high.
There are several ways people can save payment card details on their devices:
Notepads or photos
Some people choose to store their payment details for shopping online by just taking a photo of their payment card or writing down the payment card and CVV numbers in the notes application.
Weaknesses: While this option is easy and doesn’t require any technical skills, it is the riskiest when it comes to the security of users’ banking details. The research shows that 17% of users don’t lock their phones. This means that even a random stranger could access their photos, notes, emails, and contacts without any additional effort if they got to an unprotected device.
“Moreover, the device’s data can be compromised even without the device being stolen. Countless number of apps can access your photos and notes, some of them may be malicious,” adds Markuson.
One of the most popular ways to store payment information locally is in an internet browser (for example Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, etc.), as this allows users to autofill banking details while shopping online.
Weaknesses: This option may be safer than just taking a picture of your credit card and may help to save some time, but experts say it is often targeted by cybercriminals.
“The biggest issue is that criminals can create malware which will steal all the autofill information you save in your browser, including your credit card details. One nameless malware like that was analysed by NordLocker at the beginning of this year. The analysed Trojan-type malware infiltrated over 3-million computers and stole 1,2Tb of personal information, including around 28-million credentials stolen from various internet browsers,” Markuson explains.
Mobile wallets (such as Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Android Pay) may be the safest way to keep your banking details on your device. Those applications usually have strong encryption and ensure the safety of their users.
Weaknesses: There are a lot of mobile wallets and other financial encryption tools out there, but it is important to pay attention to their security standards. Make sure you choose the safest option by researching it before putting in your payment details.
How to shop online safely
“In general, when it comes to shopping online, make sure you trust the security standards of the company that you are giving your credit or debit card details to. Because once the details are given, the chance of them being leaked or misused is greater,” says Markuson.
* Research retailers online. Never rush to make a purchase without doing proper research on the retailer. Check the reviews on various platforms and only then start spending money. Make sure there’s a lock symbol next to the URL, indicating that the website is secure.
* Use strong passwords. Protect your accounts with complex passwords that contain upper-case and lower-case letters along with numbers and special characters.
* Don’t click on suspicious links. Closely inspect every email you receive and never click on any links. Hackers can impersonate online shops and redirect you to malicious websites.
* Avoid storing your payment information on browser. Even though this is not a bulletproof tip, it’s safer to type your credit card information manually.
* Use virtual cards. Some banks also offer temporary virtual cards you can use in order to shop online without any risks.
* Use a VPN. A virtual private network encrypts your traffic and hides your IP address, improving your online security and privacy. If you make purchases on public WiFi, using a VPN is a must. Hackers can create a fake hotspot, infect your device with malware, and steal your credit card details.