Life Tech Shopping online on your mobile? Here’s how to protect yourself
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Shopping online on your mobile? Here’s how to protect yourself

Mobile phone hacking
New reports show increasing amounts of Australians are online shopping using their phones, but we're not being careful about it. Photo: Getty
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Australian shoppers are increasingly scanning the web for online sales, but it’s a rise that’s mirrored by more and more cyber security attacks, recent research reveals.

Disturbingly, Australians are forgoing online privacy and safety measures for the sake of scoring a bargain.

About 30 per cent of shoppers have fallen prey to cyber crime in the past year, to the tune of $1.3 billion in total, Norton’s cyber safety insight report stated.

Norton further noted that 21 per cent of smartphone users didn’t even know their device was able to be hacked.

That’s a worrying statistic, when considered in context with another report released this week that details the increase in online shopping purchases made via mobile.

PayPal’s May trend report found a third of young buyers are adding to baskets via their smartphones, shunning traditional desktops.

The impending rollout of a 5G network in Australia is only going to attract more consumers to mobile shopping, the report said.

Cybercrime expert Julian Plummer agreed that users were more lax about mobile security, compared to that of a laptop.

“As mobile becomes increasingly de rigueur the security risk to consumers will only rise,” said Mr Plummer, who is the managing director of Midwinter Financial Services in Sydney.

How you’re being targeted

Mr Plummer said there were two main ways that mobile users were being hacked by cyber crims: Phishing, and over public wi-fi networks.

Hackers are getting smarter and smarter when it comes to phishing, which traditionally involves tricking users into clicking through on a corrupted link, or eking out sensitive, personal information.

Sophisticated criminals are now impersonating big-name brands, hijacking trusted reputations.

Free wi-fi might be tempting, – but it’s not always as good as it seems. Photo: Getty

“It used to be that seeing a padlock in the URL bar meant that the site was safe, but now hackers are ‘securing’ their sites using cheap security certificates to provide a false sense of security,” Mr Plummer warned.

While many Australians happily log into free wi-fi, Mr Plummer advises using a high degree of caution.

“Hackers use a ‘wi-fi pineapple’ to mimic a public wi-fi access point,” he explained.

“Unfortunately, logging on to these malicious wi-fi access points allows hackers to intercept any unencrypted personal data. Always be very wary when connecting to an untrusted wi-fi network – especially overseas.”

Browse and shop smart

Norton’s report showed that while 89 per cent of Australians want to do more to protect their privacy and safety online, half of them lack the knowledge to do so.

While 73 per cent of Australians say they’re more worried than ever about their online privacy and safety, 68 per cent admitted they take risks in favour of convenience.

There’s two easy ways people can protect themselves against mobile hackers, Mr Plummer said.

The first is simple, but often overlooked: Passwords.

“The crucial thing for mobile phone users is to stop reusing passwords,” Mr Plummer said.

“With a major security breach happening almost on a monthly basis, if hackers were to get your password from one shopping website, they then have access to all your online accounts if you re-use your password.”

It goes without saying: Don’t use ‘password123’. Photo: Getty

He recommends a password manager, such as LastPass, to keep yourself safe.

Secondly, while it might be tedious, keep your phone’s operating system up to date.

“The main reason manufacturers provide updates is to close off security loopholes within their device,” Mr Plummer said.

“Hackers are well versed in any security bugs in your mobile device, so make sure you have automatic updates turned on for your mobile phone.”

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