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The Resource Center Online Security Issues & Protection The Resource Center | article

Will Facebook’s Mobile Payment Efforts Present a Security Risk?

Facebook may be expanding its mobile payment options.Many people use their smartphones to communicate, take pictures and videos, surf the web and play games. Now that these devices have become virtually ubiquitous, some companies are pushing hard for users to use them as wallets as well.

If you own an Apple iPhone or one of Google’s Android devices, you already have a window into the rise of mobile payment software. Both Apple and Google have already launched respective services – Apple Pay was released in 2014 along with the iPhone 6, while Android Pay was introduced in 2015 to build off of Google Wallet, which has been around since 2011.

In addition to services run by these two giants, there are many other mobile services available for those who want to easily transfer money while on the go. One of the most notable surprises has been Facebook Messenger. Initially created as a dedicated app for Facebook’s chat feature, Messenger now allows users to send money back and forth, for free.

Now, Facebook has announced that it wants to get even more involved in mobile payments. But some security experts are worried about this possibility.

Are big risks ahead for Facebook users?

While no official announcement has been made yet, reports suggest that Facebook may be expanding its payment options. The Information recently dug through the code for Facebook’s Messenger app and discovered some hints about the company’s future plans. The app will reportedly gain the ability to make in-store payments.

This would be the first time that the company has made a serious effort to get involved with retail since 2010, when it experimented with coupon offers, according to PC World. If this works, it could present serious competition with Apple and Google, thanks to Facebook’s massive user base.

However, some security experts are skeptical that Facebook could offer app users that level of security that they expect when conducting online financial transactions. As a recent article by CSO pointed out, logging into Facebook is easy – all it requires is a user name and a password. Logging into the Messenger app is no different, as it is currently tied to a Facebook account.

This means that it could be relatively simple for a dedicated hacker to break into Facebook accounts and steal their mobile payment information.

“Facebook creates enough data which the hacker can easily correlate and cross correlate in order to create a convincing and reliable story,” Amit Ashbel, product marketing manager at Checkmarx, told CSO. “You can never know who you are really talking with on Facebook. If a hacker has successfully infiltrated a Facebook account of one of your friends, they are now your friend, family or colleague.”

In addition, the Messenger app presents an opportunity for those who want to hide the existence of stolen credit cards. They could create fake Facebook accounts using stolen information, and set up payment accounts that might look legitimate.

Of course, there have been rumors of potential fixes to these problems. PC World reported that Facebook may be building Messenger as a separate platform, which will have significantly more security than a normal Facebook account.

Always be prepared, no matter what mobile payment service you choose

Security problems with Facebook’s mobile payment efforts are inevitable. As CSO pointed out, even PayPal, a company that is nearly two decades old, still occasionally has trouble with security. Ultimately, it is up to users to protect themselves from identity theft.

An identity theft protection service like Identity Guard can help. By monitoring your credit file, Social Security Numbers and public records, our service can alert you to certain activity that could indicate fraud. If there’s a problem, you’ll be able to address it.