Living Cash Free: How Secure Is Apple Pay?

With the COVID-19 outbreak, more people are preferring to use contactless payments than ever.

 

This trend is hardly new but has accelerated as consumers look to social distance, shop safely and avoid unwittingly transmitting the coronavirus. And with most offline retail stores temporarily shut down, even more people are choosing to purchase goods through online shopping. It looks like it’s Apple Pay’s time to shine. But where there’s increased online activity, there are even more scheming hackers. Is Apple Pay really safe? Let’s find out.

How does Apple Pay work?

If you’re an Apple enthusiast, you probably already know what Apple Pay is.

 

For those Android-people and Apple newbies out there, Apple Pay is a mobile wallet allowing iPhone users to pay without sharing their credit card information. Pretty sweet right?

 

To use Apple Pay offline, all you need to do is unlock the mobile wallet’s app with biometric authentication, then bring your device close to a terminal. In online stores, Apple Pay users can pay with a single tap. You can also make peer-to-peer transactions through Apple Cash - an Apple Pay service that allows requesting and sending payments via iMessage.

What makes Apple Pay secure?

Entrusting your funds to technology can initially be concerning, but only until you find out more about the service and how it works to secure your personal details. What are the advantages of Apple Pay? Well, Apple’s mobile wallet offers credit card protection methods many other services don’t.

Complex authentication process

Even if someone steals your device, they won’t be able to purchase anything without going through the passcode or Touch ID/Face ID.

Tokenization

Apple Pay doesn’t share your credit card number with merchants to process payments. Instead, it creates a one-time-use code. Even if a fraudster happens to intercept this code, they won’t be able to gain access to your funds.

No strings attached

Apple Pay doesn’t store your credit card information on your device or its service.

Find My iPhone feature

You might be wondering: is Apple Pay more secure than a credit card? Well, answer us this: can Apple Pay be stolen? No, because it’s not physical. And even if your phone gets misplaced, the Find My iPhone feature will suspend your Apple Pay app.

Potential fraud scenarios & ways to avoid them

Sophisticated authentication layers, tokenization (replacing meaningful data with random characters tokens to hide information from hackers), and innovative data storage practices make Apple Pay one of the most secure payment methods available. But hackers and other criminals make a living finding, then exploiting loopholes in services to try to steal your funds. Some unwanted scenarios may take place but luckily, there are ways to avoid them.

Unsecured Wi-Fi

Though public Wi-Fi networks seem to be a convenient way to enjoy free browsing, they are often unsecured. And, if you happen to add your card information to Apple Pay on an unsecured Wi-Fi network, a hacker can easily intercept it.

 

Solution. Avoid changing anything in your Apple Pay profile when you’re away from home. But if it’s urgent, consider using a virtual private network (VPN).

Apple Cash scams

A cybercriminal might pretend to be your friend or a family member asking for money.

 

Solution:

  • never transfer money to unknown senders
  • always double-check payments before completion
  • block strangers requesting money

Phishing

You may receive fake emails claiming you made a payment. Worried, you click the link that should send you to the Apple Pay website for a refund. Instead, you land on a dummy website where you’re asked to confirm your payment information and basically hand your credentials to hackers.

 

Solution. Watch out for “fishy” emails (pun intended) and simply ignore emails that:

  • have unprofessional websites, attachments, or message design
  • contain poor grammar and spelling mistakes
  • have strange-looking or broken URLs (so hover your mouse over links before clicking them)
  • ask you to confirm personal details via email, phone, or text
     

* * *
 

Indeed, Apple Pay is a highly secure payment method for in-store, in-app, and online shopping. But even its sophisticated data security approaches won’t work if you don’t apply common sense and remember best practise around online safety.

 

Much of Apple Pay’s security depends on your own actions. So instead of wondering how secure Apple Pay is, focus on using it with caution, consciousness, and care.

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