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Safe Mobile Shopping Tips

# Don’t buy anything while connected to public Wi-Fi
Public Wi-Fi networks aren’t encrypted, which means anyone can eavesdrop on what you send. Anyone! All a black hat hacker needs is a free packet-sniffer (like Wireshark, 4.5 stars and a PCMag Editors’ Choice), which captures packets of data across unsecured networks. So really, avoid looking at anything on your mobile device that you wouldn’t want the guy next to you in the coffee shop to see.

# Use discretion when downloading payment apps
There’s a dizzying variety of mobile payment apps out there, but before you download any, be sure to check out the ratings, read the reviews, and search online for any claims of being scammed. When in doubt, use apps provided directly by your bank, credit card company, or retailer (like Amazon.com, Target, Best Buy, etc.). Most mobile malware comes from downloading legitimate-looking apps from third-party app stores.

# Go through legitimate app stores only
Speaking of which, don’t look for cheap shortcuts. When downloading any app, make sure it’s from a legitimate app store like Apple’s App Store, Google’s Android Market, and Amazon’s Appstore for Android; these official stores use some sort of vetting process to weed out malicious apps (Apple and Amazon do it pre-emptively, Google does it retroactively).

# Never enter personal information on a site that begins with only http://
If a website asks for your credit card information, always check that the web address begins with https, which means the site has SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption installed. On unsecured networks, (those that have only have http://), a hacker can easily steal personal information like usernames, passwords, and credit card numbers.

# Be careful where you click
Just like you do on a PC, be selective when deciding whether to click on links within emails, SMS, and social networking sites that ask for your personal information. A few mobile security products, like Lookout Premium, Trend Micro Mobile Security for Android, Webroot Mobile Security for Android, and McAfee Mobile Security will scan links for phishing attempts or malware attacks.