Students thinking of leaving the wallet at home to utilize the newest technology known as the mobile wallet should think twice before making the switch. The convenience of using a smartphone as a transaction platform might not be worth the risks to one’s privacy.
With apps like Google Wallet, Square Wallet and the newly released Isis, paying with a smartphone has become effortless. All consumers have to do is find the mobile wallet app they want, upload their credit or debit card information, and start shopping.
Square Wallet alone is accepted at more than 20 businesses in the Ogden area. Kaffe Mercantile, located on 26th Street, offers its customers the opportunity to order and pay all from their smartphones.
“We haven’t had a lot of response to the program yet,” said Nick Morris, a Kaffe Mercantile employee. “It seems to scare some of the older customers.”
Lori Layton, a mother from Ogden, had her daughter set up Square Wallet on her new phone.
“I had no clue what I was doing, but it sounded convenient,” Layton said. “I like having everything in one place. By using Square, I don’t have to keep track of receipts; it’s all sent to my phone.”
Privacyrights.org states that smartphone users can assume that anything they do on their smartphones, along with any information stored, is at risk of being seen or stolen if proper precautions are not taken.
“People don’t recognize or see how easy it is for someone to get any personal information stored on your phone,” said William Eccles, a WSU electrical engineering sophomore. “Thieves of the future are no longer going to need to steal your phone to get your information; all they will have to do is just have to walk by you.”
Using a public Wi-Fi network can give hackers the chance to view the information being transmitted by a smartphone. Privacyrights.org reminds consumers to use Wi-Fi networks with caution.
Eccles explained one of the several techniques hackers can use to access information.
“One of the easiest and productive ways is through Bluetooth,” Eccles said. “Each smartphone is able to send and receive information via this wireless access point, but many people don’t realize that if the tool is left on, they can be hacked into in the blink of an eye.”
Earlier this year, Utah hosted the SAINT Conference to provide information to the community about security. A demonstration at the conference showed how a hacker at a public place with Bluetooth locator on his or her laptop could pull information from people’s phones as they walked by.
“Virtually any public place is a prime spot for these kinds of thieves,” Eccles said.
“I personally feel adding features like mobile wallets to our smartphones are much like eating at McDonald’s. Sure, six or seven Big Macs on Big Mac Monday is cheap, convenient and easy, but how far are we willing to push the risk to our physical health?” Eccles said. “Are these kinds of things worth the risk of our financial health? I guess, in the end, the choice is to given to us. How far are you willing to push your arteries?”