Most of us keep important and personal information on our phones, so it’s important to do what you can to keep that information safe.
If your phone gets stolen, lost, damaged or compromised by malware, there's a risk that your information could end up in the wrong hands. Luckily, there are things you can do to help protect the data on your phone if something were to happen to it.
Backing up your data is one of the best things you can do to prevent losing important information. If you lose or damage your device and get a new one, a backup will enable you to restore your data. If your device becomes compromised by malware, you can wipe the data on your phone, (including any potential malware), and restore the information you care about.
You can back up your data by connecting your device to a computer or by saving your data to the cloud (or an online account).
All smartphones support the ability to set up a PIN that allows access to the phone. You should always set up a PIN, password, pattern, fingerprint or face unlock on your phone, if you can. If you lose your phone, or it gets stolen, others won’t be able to access your files.
As an additional measure, you can add a PIN number to your SIM card. This will prevent anybody being able to take your SIM card from your device and then being able to intercept your communications such as 2FA text messages or makes calls that appear to be from you, for example to your banking provider. This is particularly recommended while travelling overseas as organised criminals have been known to target phones in order to obtain SIM cards and generate scam calling via the stolen SIM risking high bills.
Most smartphones also support the ability to remotely locate, lock or wipe your phone, which can be a life saver if your phone goes missing. Be sure to set up this feature before your device goes missing!
Like any device that connects to the internet, there's always a very small risk that someone can remotely access data on your device. Although it’s impossible to completely protect your phone against online threats, there are plenty of things you can do to minimise risk.
Most smartphones receive periodic software updates, which often include the latest security updates. You should always install these updates when they become available.
Your phone will come with many applications pre-installed, and most smartphones also have the ability to install applications. There are millions of different applications (or apps) available for most devices and, like websites, virtually anyone can develop an application, so some are more trustworthy than others.
Only install apps from trusted sources
If you're using an iPhone, it’s best to only install applications from the App Store.
If your phone runs Android, you should only install applications from the Google Play Store.
These are official portals that can block or remove identified rogue apps so they are the safest option for downloading new applications.
Think twice before installing an application
Before downloading an application it’s a good idea to check these things first:
For apps to work, they usually need to access certain parts of your phone's functions. Modern devices force applications to ask for permission before they can perform a certain task. For example, Instagram asks for permission to use your phone's camera before you can use it to take photos. Skype might ask for permission to use your phone's microphone before it can make calls.
Apps asking for permission is a good thing, but be wary of apps that ask for a permission that doesn't match the application. For example, if a weather application asks for permission to use your microphone, ask yourself why. A good weather app should have no reason to use your phone's camera, however it does make sense for a weather app to ask for your location permission, so it can give you local weather information.
It can be a good idea to regularly review the apps you have installed on your device. If there are apps you no longer need or use, delete them. They're easy to re-install if you ever change your mind.