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These days, many of us live our lives on our phones – we take photos of family, friends and holidays, do all our banking and even make calls! That’s a lot of personal information all in one place. Not to mention, the significant cost of a smartphone itself – especially if you have to repair or replace it.

We often remind our members about the importance of staying safe online or how to best avoid scams, but it’s also just as important to stay secure when it comes to your mobile phone.

Take a look at our top tips for mobile security.

Set a strong passcode

When you’re the main user of your phone, it’s tempting not to worry about passcodes or added security. However, if your phone were to fall into unexpected hands, this could open up unrestricted access to many of your apps. Social media apps, notepads and even your photos can contain a lot of personal information about you, making it easier to access banking and other sensitive apps for clever hackers.

Ensure you set a strong passcode, password, fingerprint or FaceID on your device to ensure it can’t be quickly and easily accessed.

Enable remote locking features

If your phone goes missing, ensure you can remotely lock it, or even wipe it in the event you don’t get it back. Ensure you turn on your Find my iPhone or Find my Device settings so that it can be accessed in the event it goes missing.

Protect your banking

At a minimum, a four digit PIN is required to access the P&N banking app, similar to other banks and financial institutions. This passcode should be different from the one used for unlocking your phone. We strongly encourage using fingerprint or face recognition settings as well for added security.

This also applies to any cards loaded into digital wallets on your phone.

Be careful when using public charging ports

You know the feeling – you’re out and about and your phone is running out of juice. Many places these days, such as cafes and airports, offer USB charging hubs, and you’ve got your USB charging cable on you. It can be tempting to just plug in to one of these to get a battery top up. However, it pays to be careful – some USB ports can potentially be tampered with, exposing your phone to malicious software.

If your phone regularly runs out of battery, consider carrying around your wall charger to reduce the risk. By plugging into a power outlet, instead of a USB outlet, you’re taking away the direct USB connection. Alternatively, consider carrying around your own power bank – a very handy source of power on the go, no matter where you are.

Stick to the real deal

It’s so easy to get access to cheap cables and chargers for your phone, especially from places like eBay or freebies at a local event. But do you really know what you’re getting? Just like USB ports, unlicensed cables can be tampered with, and malicious software installed that can allow hackers to access your information through your phone.

Not to mention, the quality of those cables could potentially mean fraying and danger of fire or electrocution if mishandled.

Don’t risk it – buy your cables only from reputable, licensed sellers.

Check your apps

While Apple and Google have stringent protocols for apps submitted for sale or download in the App Store or Google Play, Android apps can sometimes be more readily available on third party sites. Unfortunately, this means that more dodgy apps may be available on the app store containing adware or even malware.

Audit your apps regularly and delete those that contain the nasty stuff – here’s a list of some known major apps that may contain adware or malware which will wreak havoc on your phone.

Always download from reputable developers. While Google Play isn’t completely free of these apps, it’s a much safer option than many other third-party sites, and if you’re unsure, take the time to Google the developer.

Stay scam safe

Phone scams aren’t new and calls to your mobile aren’t exempt. One very common scam involves a person claiming to be from an IT company, telecommunications, or NBN provider who want you to install some software to fix an issue with your internet, or to facilitate your connection to the web.

This software is highly dangerous – it may collect much or all of your online activity, including bank accounts, passwords and login information; give your computer a virus, or allow remote access to your computer.

If you receive a call from someone asking you to install their software, hang up immediately. As with any scam, if you’re unsure of its legitimacy, contact the company using contact information you find on the web yourself – don’t use the numbers they give you.

And of course, never, ever give out any banking details or passwords over the phone – see our scam safe article on online and phone scams.

Check before you download

Apps make our lives easier – from productivity, to food and fitness tracking, budgeting to entertainment, it’s all at your fingertips. Many apps advertise themselves as “free” or having a “free trial” that reverts to a pricey annual subscription – so make sure you check the fine print to see how much you’re really paying. Some services charge a recurring fee for an ongoing subscription; while others might charge for different services within the app – such as going “premium” to remove ads, to buying goodies in a game.

The convenience of a mobile phone is what makes them so appealing, but it’s extra important to be savvy with your device to avoid the risk of your information falling into the wrong hands. Our member’s security is our highest priority, so we encourage you to follow these tips.