Andy Steingruebl, Director of Ecosystem Security, PayPal


mobile_security_summary.jpegWelcome to Cyber Security Awareness Month, the annual October program run by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) to highlight the central role that the Internet plays in our connected digital lives and provide people with resources to help protect their safety and security in the online world.

This year’s Cyber Security Awareness Month activities emphasize a different theme each week. Week two focuses on mobile security. As a leader in mobile payments, PayPal is excited to play a role in NCSA’s efforts to help people understand what they can do to stay secure when they are connected to the Internet on a mobile device. After all, mobile commerce is a vital—and fast growing—part of our business. We know that to achieve our vision of fast, friction free payments, it’s essential that consumers feel safe and secure when they use their mobile devices to shop.

As part of our support for Cyber Security Awareness Month, we have been working with NCSA to get a clearer picture of how people use are really using their mobile devices today, and to find out what they do—and don’t—know about the safety issues they might face. So, in partnership with NCSA, we commissioned a survey of 1,000 adults in the United States.

The results of that study underscore just how deeply entrenched in our daily lives mobile devices have become. For example, two-thirds of the people we contacted told us that their smartphone is never further than one room away, and one in ten said they keep their phone handy everywhere they go, with the possible exception of the bathroom. In addition, the survey highlighted the growing importance of mobile devices as a tool for shopping, with one in four respondents reporting that they complete at least one transaction per day on their smartphone, while one in six say they make at least 25 percent of all their purchases on their smartphone.

But the survey also uncovered a general sense of unease about the security of financial information on mobile devices if lost or stolen, and it made clear that many people aren’t taking the steps they need to take to use their mobile devices safely.

We discovered, for example, that nearly 70 percent of Americans believe that storing payment information on their smartphone is unsafe. At PayPal, customer’s information is securely stored in the cloud. We also found that 63 percent of the people we surveyed don’t have a clear idea about what financial information is stored on their smartphones and more than half don’t lock their mobile device with a PIN.

What this means is that people aren’t as safe as they should be, and that by following a few simple tips from PayPal and NCSA, they can achieve greater security and better peace of mind:


  • Always activate a PIN or lock function for your mobile device: A PIN is the simplest and most important thing you can do to ensure security on your mobile device especially if it is lost or stolen.
  • Automate software updates: Many software programs automatically connect and update to defend against known risks. Turn on automatic updates on your mobile device if that’s an available option.
  • Use common sense when downloading apps: Unknown or repackaged apps can contain malware designed to steal financial information from a mobile device, so always purchase or download apps from companies that you trust and check reviews. When installing new applications, review permissions and decide whether you’re comfortable granting the access that an application asks for.
  • Enable “Find My Device”: If your phone, carrier, or antivirus software supports the “find my device” feature, it’s a good idea to activate it. This functionality will help you find your device if it’s lost or stolen, and lock it or wipe it clean remotely if you need to.
  • Backup your device: It is critical to backup your device on a regular basis. Some operating systems offer this option as an automated service. If you ever need to exercise the remote wipe feature mentioned above, you will be glad you have a current backup that you can recover to a new device.

In the survey, we found that many people are open to new approaches to mobile security that would increase their safety. In particular, there are strong indications that many people are willing to take advantage of biometric technology to protect themselves against mobile security threats. Our survey found that Americans are overwhelmingly comfortable replacing passwords with newer security technologies such as fingerprint identification (53 percent) and retinal scans (45 percent).

PayPal has always been passionate about protecting customers, and we go to great lengths to do so with purchase protection, storing information securely in the cloud, and utilizing advanced technologies for fraud detection. We are also at the forefront of industry-wide efforts such as the FIDO (Fast IDentity Online) Alliance to develop new and better ways to make online authentication faster, easier, and more secure.

At the same time, we know that individuals have a vital role to play in making sure their personal and payment information is safe. Our hope is that continued innovation and education from great organizations like NCSA will help consumers understand what they can do to take advantage of a new generation of amazing mobile commerce experiences with greater confidence that their information is well-protected.

If you’re interested in learning more, please join us for a Mobile & On the Go Twitter Chat on Thursday, October 10 at 3 p.m. ET. Participants can use the hashtag #ChatSTC to join. More information is available You can also find more “Safety & Security Tips On the Go” at:

Mobile Security Infographic

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