Apple Pay is one of the major players in the mobile payments market today, being a feature on modern iPhones as well as Apple smartwatches. Having been released recently in comparison to the competition (like Google Wallet), it is gaining traction and a reputation of being a safer option. Yet is this really the case? Can you really trust Apple Pay with your hard earned money and your credit?
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How Does It Work?
After signing up for the service, you can input the information of a bank card onto your phone. You then may be asked to input more information for a security check. Whenever you want to make a payment you can input a code or a thumb print to activate Apple Pay and move it near the reading device. You’ll feel a vibration in your phone when the payment goes through.
In terms of security, the best thing to know is that Apple says it doesn’t store any of your card information on its servers. In fact, the information is stored on the “Secure Element” which is a special segment of the iPhone that is not as easily accessed. It also uses tokenization so that your information isn’t spread across the internet whenever it is used. If the phone is lost, you can easily wipe it to keep your data safe (once you notice it being lost).
As with most things regarding cybersecurity, you have to really watch out for human error above all else. If you give out your information regarding Apple payments there is nothing any company or security measure can do for you.
Physical phone theft is always a problem when mobile payments are concerned as well. It isn’t as immediate a concern as other mobile payments, but without proper security measures a skilled hacker might be able to read your information or get into your accounts in general. No matter what companies say, there is a way in or a method is being developed.
You should also be worried about having a breach of any accounts that link to Apple Pay or could access information used by Apple Pay. Cybercriminals are clever and will take the “scenic route” if they have to, using one account to get info to get into another and so on. Make sure all of your passwords and verification measures are of the highest standard, even if you don’t consider a particular account important. Public networks should be avoided unless you have protective measures in use (described below).
The safety of Apple Pay depends greatly on the precautionary measures you have in place and the security habits you have in general.
One thing you will want to get for your iPhone is a Virtual Private Network (VPN) which is a service that will connect your phone to an offsite secure server using an encrypted connection. It will protect any data transferred over a public network, and while Apple Pay might have standards in place you can never know when the hackers might pull ahead. It will also protect important account information that could lead into the breach of your Apple account. Websites such as Secure Thoughts recommend names such as ExpressVPN, IPVanish, and HideMyAss.
A general rule should be that you should keep an eye on your finances as well. A weekly summary or review of your accounts is always a good habit whether you are using Apple Pay or not. Any alerts that can be sent your way from either Apple or your bank are always appreciated as well. One can hope for the best, but should be prepared for the worst so a quick response can be deployed.
To counter physical phone theft, you are going to want the strongest verification measures the mobile payment service offers. Some might prefer fingerprint verification and others might like a 6-digit PIN, but just make sure that “1111” isn’t your go to option. You might not notice your phone getting stolen right away, and if a criminal gets in you have to worry about Apple Pay as well as any other information on your phone.
So Is It Safe?
To answer it briefly, it is safe but there are always safer options. If you are concerned about your identity and your personal information, cash will always be the best option. You cannot always guarantee what vendors and hackers might have in terms of tools, so you will need to stay vigilant and only use Apple Pay if you think it is safe.
Compared to other methods of mobile payment or credit cards, it could be said that Apple Pay is safer. Card skimmers are still out there, and if your card is stolen it will be easier for the thief to use than a stolen iPhone. Based on some of the redundancies and encryption built into the system, it could be easily compared to PayPal in terms of security. Only you will know the exact level of risk you want to take and what you are most comfortable with, however.
Apple Pay is clearly an interesting technology with lots of room to grow, especially with regards to security. One can expect that it will continue evolving along with the rest of our daily lives. Do you have any experience with Apple Pay? Any stories involving security? Any concerns? Leave a comment below and share with your fellow readers.
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Bio: Cassie Phillips is a writer and blogger specializing in smartphones, blogging, and online security. She has been looking intomobile payments for years now and is intrigued and sometimes surprised at each new turn the technology takes.