On the eighth post of Christmas…. How safe is your mobile?

Most of us live on our smartphones.  We use them for shopping, socialising, browsing, banking and more.  The convenience offered to us these days is incredible, but how many of you stay logged into your accounts for ease of use, Queensland Police say?

Unfortunately this means anyone who has access to your handset has access to everything on your phone. Yes. Everything.

Even if you can see your phone, that doesn’t mean it’s safe.  Malicious apps can compromise your security no matter what type of phone you have.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to ensure noone gets access to anything they shouldn’t. You can then get back to using your phone for its intended purpose – taking photos of your smashed avocado on rye sourdough.

  • Set a password, Personal Identification Number (PIN), passcode, gesture or fingerprint that must be entered or used to unlock the device. Don’t forget to put PINs on your SIM card and voicemail and also ensure the device is set to automatically lock.
  • Use a password manager – long, strong and different passwords for each account can be hard to remember, but with a password manager you won’t have to as it can create new passwords and automatically store them.
  • Install reputable security software that includes antivirus and antitheft/loss protection – your device’s retailer or service provider can provide recommendations.
  • Only install apps from the official device app store and do not “jailbreak” your device.  Malicious apps can launch a range of attacks from unwanted pop-up ads to install ransomware that demands you pay to unlock your files.
  • Use your device’s automatic update feature to install new application and operating system updates as soon as they are available.
  • Set the device to require a password before apps are installed. This will prevent unauthorised modifications to the device.  Parental controls could also be used for this purpose.
  • Log out of apps and services – in particular banking and shopping apps where personal information can be easily stolen.  Logging back in can be a pain, but discovering that someone has used your eBay account to top up their rare teaspoon collection is worse.
  • Leave Bluetooth turned off or in undiscoverable mode (hidden) when you are not using it.
  • Ensure your device does not automatically connect to new networks without your confirmation and avoid public networks.  While free public Wi-Fi is handy, it is public, which makes it relatively easy for criminals to steal your data. Avoid doing anything sensitive like banking, shopping or emailing using public Wi-Fi.
  • Record the International Mobile Equipment Identifier (IMEI) of your handset. Your IMEI is a 15 or 17 digit number often printed on a label under the battery or found in the Settings under general information about your device. If your device is lost or stolen, report this number to your provider and they can stop the handset from being used.
  • Enable the remote tracking, locking and/or wiping functions, if your device supports them.
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