"In internet governance, the term security now encompasses a host of problems, perhaps too many to fit properly under one word. It includes the fight against spam, viruses, and phishing. It refers to bugs in protocols and operating systems on computers, mobile phones, and other devices that create opportunities for exploitation by clever programmers (p 159-160, Networks and States)."
With the increased rise and wide use of the cell phone, the risk of information being stolen from these devices raise several questions. For example, "what is the risk of having our private information stolen from our cell phones?" Is it safe to perform private transactions, such as online banking or contactless credit card purchases on a cell phone?"
According to the "Is it safe to bank by cell phone?" article on MSN money, "Mobile browsers are theoretically susceptible to the same kind of security risks as a home or office computer. In reality, they are probably somewhat safer at the moment because creators of password-pilfering viruses and Trojan horses haven't yet fully focused on the mobile market. Of course, mobile Web users are as susceptible as anyone else to the phishing scams and spoofed Web sites that try to trick users into disclosing passwords and other personal data."
The same rules apply with desktop computers as they do with cell phones, which is to use the same level of precaution when accessing online information. These variants cause the following once the phone is infected: leakage of private data, excessive battery drainage, and the spread or replication by using bluetooth. The key to being safe from these variants is to avoid fake e-mails which look like they have come from reputable sources and being cautious of what websites are visited.
Also, the best solution when performing mobile bank transactions is to use proprietary apps that are designed to work with a bank's security algorithm that are resistant and safer then using a mobile web browser which can be susceptible to phishing scams. The big downside to this is these programs can store sensitive information on the phone itself. This can be dangerous if the phone is lost and then ends up in the wrong hands so disabling certain features that this app can offer is essential to maintaining optimal privacy of personal information.
Another issue with using cell phones for financial transactions is the ability of using a cell phone as a credit/debit card. This technology is currently being used in Japan and is now being used by select retailers in the United States. All a person has to do is wave their cell phone in front of the credit card terminal and the cell phone terminal picks up the credit card information from the phone which then processes the payment. Even though this is a quick way to pay and may be the demise of the wallet, there are some key issues with this new technology.
Privacy, security, and dispute rights are the main concerns with this new technology as mentioned by a coalition of consumer rights advocates.
The issue of privacy with this technology is that a person's location and profile can be transmitted through this contactless payment card system. Marketers can use this information for marketing and profiling purposes without the consent of the consumer. The consumer groups say people using contactless devices should be given clear notice of the potential for privacy intrusion. According to Takingcharge.com, "consumers should be able to make contactless payments without having their activities tracked except for payment processing and record keeping if that is their desire," the statement says (Contactless payment cards raise security, privacy concerns, consumer groups say, Connie Prater, June 23, 2008).
The issue with security is that if someone has an RFID reader, they can intercept the signal and steal the credit card information being transmitted to the payment terminal. The other concern is the same as mentioned earlier which is the sensitive banking and credit card information stored on the phone.
Dispute rights are the final issue with these contactless payment systems. The concern with this is the accuracy and the ability to dispute charges made using this system. These consumer groups suggest putting a safeguard in place which would allow a daily dollar cap on the amount of transactions processed on these contactless devices.
The more mobile our world becomes the issues of privacy and securing of information will still be a big concern. Using this type of technology comes with great convenience and risks at the same time. Eventually we may see a new era of mobile devices which will solve all of our needs and be safe at the same time. Until then, we must be aware of what advantages and disadvantages this new technology brings.