Banking on Your Smartphone — Safe or Not?

Some people still refuse to do their banking through a smartphone. There’s a lingering sense that mobile security for banking apps just isn’t yet strong or reliable enough. Some folks are afraid their bank accounts are just too vulnerable to risk accessing them on a smartphone.

The truth is, the banking industry’s recently made great strides to tighten up its mobile act and, in the most commonly used brands of smartphones, banking security is pretty darned tight. But, the rumors persist — and for good reason.

Bankers do their best to provide secure software for their customers, but as customers, we have the ultimate responsibility to ensure our mobile transactions are secure.  What goes wrong for people who get scammed by mobile banking fraudsters?  Mostly human error.

Some of the most expensive mistakes in mobile banking occur when smartphone users forget or don’t know the risks.

  • Discarded, lost or stolen phones are known for having residual banking information stored in them.
  • Account numbers, passwords, deposit information and other data can allow a criminal to drain your bank account very quickly.  Always lock and wipe a lost phone. Always.
  •  Weak or commonly used passwords are an invitation to criminals.  If your password is one of the hundreds of obvious ones, such as 2345, superman, or any of those listed by the recent hackers of the LinkdIn and EHarmony systems last month. Design your banking passwords carefully, and never use the same password for banking that you’re using for other apps.
  • Fake alerts that look like they’ve been sent by your bank are phishing scams, attempting to get you to re-enter your banking information.  This trick has been around for a long time and it isn’t getting any better. Ignore them! If you have a question about whether an alert like this is legitimate, call your bank.  Otherwise, delete it!
  • Be sure the apps you’re using have been purchased from a reliable, well-known source. Third party apps are likely to be cloned, and loaded with some form of scam ware. Use only trusted apps, and check the site’s URL to be sure you’re on your bank’s legitimate, secured website
  • Make certain you’ve downloaded a strong mobile security app that will alert you before malware is allowed to reach your smartphone.  It’s your best insurance against fraud, and a smart investment for your family’s smartphones and tablets.  Download the best and most reliable smartphone security you can find.

Just being more aware of our own activities can make mobile banking a much more carefree experience.

Have you ever lost money due to a mobile banking transaction?  How did you discover it?  What did you do?  Please share your stories with us on our blog, or talk to us on our Facebook page.  We’d love to hear from you.

Walking + Texting = A Mishap Waiting to Happen?

There are so many aspects of mobile safety to consider. Acquiring strong mobile security software is the first logical step when we purchase a smartphone or tablet. Malware, loss and theft can be avoided with safe mobile habits and superior protection products. Most of us know about the dangers involved in such mishaps as ID theft, geo-stalking and texting while driving. But, did you know that hundreds of accidents occur when people try to walk and text at the same time?

The mental image might make us laugh, but if it’s happened to you, you know it’s not always a laughing matter. The phenomenon’s getting attention in national news – some of the incidents have been fairly serious.  A study by researchers at Stony Brook University revealed that it’s quite difficult for humans on foot to maintain our course of direction when we’re focused on texting – our brains aren’t sufficiently wired up for simultaneous walking and texting at the same time!

What kinds of incidents are resulting from texting while walking?

Earlier this year a woman walked off a pier into six feet of cold water.  Another woman walked into an open manhole.

The story of a man who was so busy texting that he didn’t see the huge brown bear in front of him has become legendary.

A man at a small town ball field in Maine was texting furiously while walking, and found himself right into the middle of his daughter’s Lacrosse game.

Luckily, no one was hurt, but there were a few stick-swinging young athletes with weak knees. Thousands of others have sustained minor injuries from tripping, running into obstacles, such as poles, and even walking out in front of moving traffic or bicycles.

Taking stock of your mobile habits.

Are you a person who texts, regardless of where you are and where you’re going? Have you bumped into others, or had cars honk at you on a city street?  Have you tripped, lost your balance or even fallen because you’re walking while tapping away on your treasured mobile device?

The next time you’re in a hurry to text or read an SMS message, take a moment to sit down or lean against a building.  Just as you would pull over in your vehicle to make a call or send a text, protect yourself and others by stopping and stabilizing before you allow your brain to become absorbed in texting.

Remember, just like tapping your head and making tummy circles at the same time, our brains aren’t designed to text and walk with much efficiency.  It’s a small mobile protection habit that could turn into a major mobile safety issue.

Sometimes we see someone else doing something clumsy while they’re texting and walking, or we do something ourselves that has the potential to become a disaster.  Share your stories with us by commenting on our blog, or posting on our Facebook page.  We’d love to hear from you.

How is Social Networking Affecting Our Kids?

This is the third in a series of articles that will take a closer look at kids in their teens, their use of mobile devices, and how they feel about mobile safety issues. 

Mobile safety and security take many forms when it comes to our kids.  A recent study by covers a lot of ground when it comes to adolescents and teens and their online activities.  The study’s a real boon for parents who aren’t privy to how their kids are feeling about their online lifestyles.

Just for some perspective, three out of four teens have their own social networking sites online, and half of all teens visit their sites daily.  In fact, more than a third (34%) of teens visit their main social networking site several times every day.

Some of us worry about our kids and this new form of socialization, which has very quickly become an essential way of life . We’ve read so many stories about bullying, ridiculing, cliques and threats to our children’s mobile safety, it’s important to understand how kids really feel about their online social activities. Researchers decided to dig in a little deeper to discover whether using social networking is having a positive or negative impact on kids’ sense of well-being.

Surprisingly, the large majority of kids who use social networking daily revealed that they don’t feel much of a change in their self-image, depression, popularity or sense of empathy, whatsoever.  In fact, their social and emotional well-being does not seem to be negatively affected  at all by all the comments, likes, and links they post and read every day.  At least, this is their perception.

On the contrary, most kids say they get a lift from using social networking, despite the fact that a few do have a more negative experience. Only five percent of teens say social networking makes them feel more depressed, compared to ten percent, who say it makes them feel less depressed. However, an overwhelming eighty-three percent say it doesn’t really affect their emotional or mental health. Only 4% of teens in this study say that social media has negatively affected their relationships with friends, while 52% report that it’s mainly helped their relationships.

Although we hear about cases of privacy invasion, bullying, racism and cruelty on social networking sites, it appears, from the responses of the kids in this survey, that those events are somewhat limited. We should never take such incidents lightly, but this news is certainly better than we might have predicted.

As the study points out, we won’t really know the true effects of this change in our society until time allows us to look back in retrospect. Powerful advertising, predators and those with malicious intent could threaten the mobile security and comfort of our kids without our knowing it.  But, for now, we can take a deep breath, and simply follow some mobile safety tips to assure their social networking will be a safe and positive experience.

  • Check in with your kids regularly about their mobile activities to make sure they’re comfortable with the interactions they’re having on social media sites.
  • Look at your kids’ social networking site and read what’s being said. Does it all seem healthy and harmless?
  • Encourage your kids to talk and share about their social media experiences.
  • Kids should know they don’t have to put up with posts that make them uncomfortable. Be sure your kids know who to tell if they are being harassed online.
  • Your kids still prefer talking face-to-face with their friends, so encourage them to meet in person with their friends more often.
  • Stop worrying so much about your kids’ social networking.  They’re pretty happy with how it’s going, for the most part.
  • Feel even more secure by having a powerful mobile security product in place.  The world’s tricky enough without interference from the bad guys.

What do you know about your child’s Facebook page? Are you able to look at it?  Have you learned some things about your kids’ lives that you didn’t know before? Share your stories with us on our blog or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Losing Your Smartphone Isn’t Fun

Does the idea of losing your smartphone make you queasy, anxious or slightly paranoid?  You’re not alone.  The loss of a mobile device can be a traumatic experience. Good mobile security practices will alleviate some of the stress caused by lost or stolen smartphones.

Recent studies tell us that more than one-third of smartphone and tablet owners have lost a mobile device.  In fact, USA Today reported that around $30 billion worth of cell phones were lost in 2011.  Obviously, it’s a pretty common occurrence, and it could happen to anyone.

Most smartphones are lost in public places, like restaurants, stores, airports and coffee shops. Not only do certain thieves deliberately look for smartphones to steal, but strangers who happen to come across a lost phone almost always take a good look at the contents before turning it in. It’s no wonder that we worry about mobile security.

Losing your phone or pad can be a distressing event. For most of us, credit card and bank info is stored on our phones. We typically have photos, and GPS data, as well as text messages and contact information in our mobile devices. Losing such personal information can make you feel very vulnerable, since it puts your mobile safety and security totally at risk, not to mention that having to purchase a new phone’s not always in our budget.

Here are some tips that might ease your angst about losing a smartphone or tablet, and save you from unwanted anxiety.

  • First and foremost, protect your family’s smartphones and tablets with security software that will let you lock your device from a remote location. For example, NQ Mobile Security lets you remotely lock your phone, set off an alarm and, if necessary, remotely wipe all the data from your system. If you find the phone later or have to get a new one, you can restore much of your data.
  • Set your smartphone or pad to lock up within a very brief period when it’s not in use. It’s worth the time it takes to log back in, and reduces the chances of intrusion.  Make your password or keylock code complex or unique enough that it can’t be guessed.
  • Try to keep your mobile system as clean as possible.  Don’t store anything that you don’t absolutely need.
  • Get your device engraved with some kind of mark that would help you identify it.

Your mobile device is like your purse or wallet.  It’s valuable, private and worth taking extra precautions against loss and theft.

We’re interested in hearing about your loss or theft events involving your mobile devices.  How did you feel about it? Talk to us about your experiences on our blog, or on our Facebook page.  We look forward to hearing from you.

Hide Your Photos, Videos, and Texts

Victoria in Thailand

Flaunt It!

by Victoria Repice, NQ Mobile Product Expert

We recently launched NQ Mobile Vault, an app that makes it easier to encrypt and protect a lot of the stuff you store on your smartphone, from photos and text messages to call logs and contacts. We asked Victoria, our NQ product expert, to tell us why this app has become so popular.

Flaunt It or Vault It

If you haven’t heard of or tried Vault, it’s based on a simple idea. We all have photos, videos, and texts that we love to flaunt. And then there are the ones that we would just rather keep to ourselves. Those are the ones we Vault.

My flaunt-worthy pictures are the ones of my family trip to Alaska, and my first ride on the elephant in Thailand (see my photo on the right). My flaunt-worthy texts feature my best friend thanking me for watching her kids while she was in crisis mode. Yep, Victoria to the rescue again! I’ll happily flaunt the good photos, videos, and texts to anyone who asks to see my phone.

Unfortunately, not everything in my life is flaunt-worthy. That’s why I—and 1.6 million other people who are already using Vault—love Vault. My Vault consists of everything that I don’t want to flaunt, like that video of my son jumping into my arms after scoring his first soccer goal. Great video—but his energetic leap resulted in my shirt being lifted up and exposing my bra to anyone who watches the video. I’ll Vault that one until I can Photoshop my shirt back into it, thank you very much.

MYOB Please

Whenever anyone asks me what’s in my Vault, I tell them it’s none of their friggin’ business. One of our customers wrote nearly those exact words in a Google Play review: “This app is great! I don’t ever have to worry about people seeing what is not their business while they are using my phone.”

His words reaffirmed what I’ve been thinking all along—everyone has stuff on their phone that they just don’t want others to see.

It’s not like I have a secret life to hide—I just don’t want everyone who sees my phone to access everything my phone can reveal about me. What if they come across that photo? Or read my personal or confidential work texts?

Download Vault

Vault is one of those products that makes me wonder what the heck I did without it. Its success on the market is testament to how incredible this product is. The NQ Mobile team released it as a beta version early this year with little promotion and, before its official launch in early June, 1.6 million users had already downloaded it. And it won an award immediately after its launch. Yep, it’s safe to say Vault is a flaunt-worthy product.

OK, I’ll stop bragging about Vault now and let you see for yourself what all the fuss is about. You can download it free here. Once you do, you’ll be amazed at how much better and secure you feel next time someone asks you, “Hey—can I check out your new phone?” Your flaunt-worthy self will happily reply: “Go for it!”

About Victoria

Victoria Repice is NQ Mobile’s Senior Director of Product Management. Since joining NQ in May, she’s been dedicated to finding ways to make Vault more valuable to our customers, easy to use, and better than anything else out there. Share your thoughts and ideas about Vault—and our other products—with her by commenting on this post or posting on our NQ Mobile Facebook page.

Curious about Vault? See Victoria give a demo of the app at CTIA.


This is the second in a weekly series of articles that will take a closer look at kids in their teens, their use of mobile devices, and how they feel about mobile safety issues. 

According to‘s newest study, most teens enjoy and appreciate communicating with their friends and loved ones through texting and social networking. However, as the research digs deeper, some interesting facts emerge. We care about our kids’ mobile security, but there may be more to it than we thought.

Texting and social networking are fun. A quick, private texting session allows teens to be in touch in an instant.  They can be silly, talk about their crushes and share their deepest thoughts.  Facebook allows kids to present themselves to the world in the ways they choose to be seen. Online networking may help kids in the process of defining who they are, as they try on different ideas and find new ways to express themselves. With the exception of bullying incidents, overall, these new ways of communicating are a definite positive for most kids.

However, though most teenagers seem to have texting and social networking built right into their genes these days, there’s a small percentage of kids who wish things were different.  Although texting ranks high in the preferred way to talk to their friends, 49% of teens in a recent study say they’d rather talk face-to-face!  Kids who prefer personal contact with their friends say it’s more fun, they can understand one another better, and it’s easier to know what people really mean. Laughing together, and sharing personal stories makes face to face contact a richer experience.

So, kids still enjoy personal contact.  But, it’s also probably safe to assume that there’s a good deal of peer pressure for kids to communicate online.  In addition, a shocking  forty-one percent of phone-owning teens feel they’re addicted to their mobile phones.  Plus, quite a few kids surveyed expressed a certain desire to return to the days before social media. What is this telling us?

Once kids are in a social media loop, they may feel pressured to stay in it. Maybe the “addictions” of texting and social networking aren’t quite as pleasing to some kids as we think. Parents might want to consider limiting texting and social networking time. Your teens may fight the idea, but they also might appreciate it. We need to provide our kids with as many levels of mobile safety and security possible and, for some kids, it might mean saving them from themselves!

Check in with your kids about their feelings.  Do they feel addicted to their mobile device? Do they wish things could go back to the old days when they didn’t feel obligated to respond to a text or post on Facebook?  Encourage them to have more personal contact with their friends, and remind them how much fun it is to talk face to face.  And, don’t forget to protect their mobile activities with strong mobile security. Teens still need our protection and guidance as they maneuver through their digital world on their way to adulthood.

Are you or your kids addicted to texting and social networking?  Do you long for the days when your phone didn’t load up with text messages, and you had more personal time with friends outside of Facebook?  Share your stories with us on our blog, or join the discussion on Facebook.  We value  your insights and would love to hear from you.