Cyber Monday and Black Friday are just around the corner, gearing up customers for another exciting round of holiday shopping. While in recent years there has been a push for more online deals to thwart past tensions with in-store shopping, consumers may want to think first before they input their credit card information into certain iPhone apps this holiday season. Counterfeit retail apps working as money laundering schemes have been discovered in Apple’s App Store. According to the mobile analytics company, Branding Brand, hundreds of counterfeit apps in the Apple App Store slid past Apple’s rigorous evaluation process. Branding Brand made statements to The New York Times on Sunday concluding that these apps have been falsely posing as official apps for popular retail stores such as Nordstrom and Dollar Tree, among others.
With Thanksgiving Day two weeks away and holiday shopping season rapidly approaching, the timing could not be worse for Apple or their consumers. The fake apps are an attempt by malicious developers. Many of these malicious attempts are thought to be originating from Chinese developers to take advantage of consumers growing interest in mobile device purchases. Majority of these apps have displayed pop-up ads in hopes to generate cash for advertising. On the other hand, a few of these apps have requested customers to input their credit card information with malware in place as an attempt to steal sensitive data from a person’s smartphone.
It still remains a mystery as to how these apps made their way through Apple’s rigorous defenses. Apple has been at the brunt of criticism over the years for their difficult App Store approval guidelines. Before an app can even make its way into the App Store, testers try them out to guarantee that they do not contain any malware, are found inoffensive, and fall in line with their regulations.
Alan Calder, the founder and chief executive officer of IT Governance, urges merchants and customers to remain cautious and take preventative safety measures: “We urge organizations with online retail activity to take preventive security measures. Cyber Monday and Black Friday expose retailers to cybercrime more than any other period of the year. Security professionals need to take cyber threats like point-of-sale (POS) malware, fraud and new mobile payment technology seriously, and should respond to the challenges by conducting penetration testing to identify and fix any potential vulnerabilities.”
With online card fraud on the rise, it is becoming increasingly crucial for consumers to become more active in their own card security. Most mobile apps, especially banking mobile apps, offer alerts to monitor activity within an app and on their actual debit or credit card. Many consumers are given plenty of options to restrict transaction to certain geographical locations and merchants, as well as merchant types. Beyond relying on the individual banking mobile apps, there are also mobile security apps that offer all of these services with just the tap of their phone screen.
Beyond alerts and restrictions, there are other preventative measures that can be taken to protect personal data during heavy shopping holidays:
- Utilize e-commerce solutions, such as Visa Checkout and MasterCard MasterPass
- Install security software
- Be wary of giving personal and credit card information over the phone
- Never purchase from retail organizations that are not recognizable
- Keep internet passwords and login IDs different. Avoid using the same credentials throughout multiple payment platforms.
Sterling provides merchants with a complete range of electronic payment processing services, including credit, debit, PIN debit, fleet, gift card, and electronic benefits transfer (EBT).
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