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Smartphone Safety

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The latest generation of mobile phones offers users exciting new capabilities. Smartphones typically allow access to the internet and email. They usually have an operating system similar to that of a personal computer. Many smartphones allow users to download third-party applications.
However, these advanced capabilities also mean that there is an increased risk that private information on your phone could be stolen, or your phone could become infected by malicious software. In addition, if your phone is lost or stolen, your personal information including passwords, banking details, emails and photos could be used unlawfully.

Steps to secure your smartphone

  • Set and maintain strong passwords. Many mobile phones allow users to set a password or Personal Identification Number (PIN) that must be entered to use the phone. Passwords and PINs make it more difficult for thieves to steal your personal information if your phone is lost or stolen. Put a PIN on your SIM card so that thieves cant steal your phone credit or run up your phone bill. Most mobile phones have an option to request a PIN each time you switch your phone on.

  • Keep Bluetooth hidden. Bluetooth lets you wirelessly connect to devices and transfer information over short distances. For Bluetooth to work, devices need to see each other and then connect. It is best to leave your phone in undiscoverable mode (hidden) so that it is only visible when you specifically need other people or devices to see it. This means that hackers cannot see your smartphone and they cannot connect to it unless they already have your Bluetooth address. When connecting using Bluetooth, do so in private, uncrowded areas only.

  • Be smart with WiFi. When connecting to the internet using WiFi, try to use an encrypted network that requires a password.

  • Think before you click. Don't open multimedia messages (MMS) or attachments in emails, or click on links in emails and SMS messages unless you are expecting them and they are from a trusted source. They could contain malicious software or take you to a malicious website.

  • Check for updates to your phones operating system regularly. Install them as soon as they are available—these updates contain changes that will make your phone more secure.

  • Install security software from a reputable provider. Anti-virus and firewall software is available for some mobile phone operating systems. Check with your phone manufacturer for recommendations.

  • Be careful when downloading applications from the Web. Smartphones have internet browsers that let you surf the web and download content to the phone. Do not download content such as applications from an unknown or unreliable source. They could contain malicious software. Use the application store or website of your smartphones operating system or manufacturer to be safe.

  • Back up your data regularly. Set up your smartphone so that it backs up all your data each time you synchronise with a computer. Alternatively, backup your device to a memory card regularly and keep it in a safe place.

  • Encrypt your data. Some smartphones allow you to encrypt the data stored on your phone or memory cards through the use of third-party encryption products. Encryption secures your data if your smartphone is compromised.

Symptoms of malicious software infection

Your smartphone may have been infected with malicious software if any of the following things have happened:
  • there is a sudden large increase in your phone bill with no clear reason
  • your phone has emails and messages in the sent folder that you did not send, or
  • the user interface has changed without you taking any action to change it.
Contact your smartphones manufacturer for instructions on how to remove the malicious software.