The internet is full of information, but it can also be dangerous. Learn how to keep your family safe online.
Your smartphone is a direct portal to your identity and your life. Your device is likely to hold more personal information about you, your family, friends and work than you would store in your home or office. You must protect it.
Why your mobile device must be secure
Your smartphone or tablet connects you to the internet so that you can carry out daily tasks from wherever you are. Your device is a key to access the information about yourself that you store online. That includes online banking passwords, credit card details, personal and work connections, photos and videos and everything that identifies you, as you.
Getting access to this information is a lucrative business for cyber criminals. If they can find a weak spot they could:
- steal your identity
- steal your money
- use your credit card to go shopping
- infect your mobile device with malware.
Even if your mobile device is lost or stolen, and you haven’t backed up or secured your data, you could lose:
- treasured photos and videos
- all of your personal and work contacts’ details.
How to secure your mobile device
Set up your mobile device, your social media and other applications (or apps) so that it is tough for even the most trusted person in your life to access it.
Set up device locking mechanisms
Set up a password, PIN, passcode or fingerprint pattern to unlock your mobile device. You’ll need to set up a PIN to unlock your SIM card too as it is removable and its use is what your internet provider will bill you for, so you need to protect it. Check your device’s security settings and select automatic locking to make sure your phone locks itself after a defined period of time.
Keep software up to date and backup data
Set up automatic updates for applications and operating systems, so that your device is always up to date with the latest security features. Install virus protection software to protect you from malware. Always backup irreplaceable data such as photos or emails through reputable and secure Cloud storage solutions. ‘Cloud’ storage means you can get access to your information at any time through the internet. So if your mobile device is no longer in your possession, you can still access your data via the internet.
When you’re not using Bluetooth, turn it off. Ignore offers of free (usually unsecured) public Wi-Fi access and ensure your mobile device is set up to only connect to secure networks you have approved. Get into the habit of regularly deleting your internet browsing history on your mobile device and closing multiple browsing tabs.
Lock out dishonest users remotely
Check if your mobile device supports remote locking or wiping functions. Provided that you regularly backup your data, if you lose your mobile device or it has been stolen, you can lock it remotely, or choose to completely wipe the data. If you don’t have these options, record the International Mobile Equipment Identifier (IMEI) of your handset. Ask your product retailer where to find this number. If your device is lost or stolen, you can report the IMEI number to your billing provider and they can block your device remotely.
Develop secure mobile device habits
Get into the habit of the following behaviours to keep your mobile device secure:
- Log out of websites, such as your online banking account, when you’ve finished using them.
- Close multiple internet browsing tabs.
- Only download apps from trusted online stores such as Google Play or the iTunes Store.
- Review the privacy permissions carefully before you install a new app on your mobile device.
- Never store passwords anywhere other than through a reputable password keeper app downloaded from Google Play or iTunes Store.
- Don’t use a jailbroken /rooted device. This refers to an iOS/Android device which has bypassed the security settings in order to remove software restrictions (usually in order to install software not approved by the App Store or Google Play). This significantly decreases the security of the device.
What to do if someone gains unauthorised access to your mobile device
If your mobile device is lost, stolen or has been hacked (that is, someone has gained unauthorised access to your device and your data), there are ways to protect your identity and data:
- If you’re sure you can’t recover your mobile device and you’ve set up your remote locking or data wiping functions, activate these functions.
- Contact your telephone service provider immediately to report loss, theft or compromise of your mobile device. They will be able to block your service using your IMEI, or bar the service from using their network and then advise you of next steps.
If you’re concerned your identity may be at risk, check out How to keep your identity safe online for advice on where to go for help.