By Andy Gent
An interesting article in the Daily Telegraph on cyber criminals taking a stroll around the streets of East London in order to gather sensitive information for the purposes of fraud led me to think about the generic risks of using the mobile phone in public.
The article points out that a casual walk around London’s Square Mile district enables a casual observer to pick up on confidential and potentially business critical information that could be used for fraud, cyber-attack or extortion.
The risks for a mobile user are, if anything, more worrying. With users checking their phone on average 110 times a day (that is once every six minutes) the risks are significant. Fine, playing games and looking at images might not post a significant problem but mobile users are being encouraged to do more and more on their device. Mobile banking, mobile commerce and checking sensitive emails are only three of the ways that fraudsters and cyber criminals can gain access to critical information.
Mobile commerce is possibly the most risky of all. Internet Retailer reported in February that 83% of mobile users plan to buy something using the mobile in the next year. Yet there is still not an effective means to seamlessly and elegantly enter a password on a mobile phone without potentially running the risk of being spotted. Since many people prefer to use simpler passwords on the mobile, so the risk grows.
For anyone from a petty criminal to a global fraudster, this presents an opportunity for anything from a casual theft of a password to significant identify fraud. All the information is present and, in a relatively short train journey a casual mobile user could find themselves victim to ‘overlooking crime’.
Of course we have all become accustomed to shielding our PIN code when making purchases in shops or withdrawing money from an ATM but more caution is required with mobile devices to ensure safety and security from fraud.