Make sure you brush up on our top tips on how to safeguard your smartphone and tablet from digital threats, and all the useful tools you need
By Virgin TV Edit
We all store lots of personal, private and sensitive data on our phones and tablets – often more than we do on our desktops and laptops. And yet, while we rightly spend a lot of time and resources backing up and securing home computers, the same cannot be said when it comes to mobile security. And that is a big mistake.
Because while losing a phone might be a considerable inconvenience, having your phone hacked and your data compromised can have an even greater cost. That’s why it’s so important to keep up to date with software updates and security options available from the app stores.
Read on to find out why you should be paying attention to mobile security, and scroll down to discover more about award-winning Virgin Media Internet Security powered by F-Secure.
You’ve probably heard of malware threats on your computer, but did you know the very same menace exists for mobile?
Triada malware, spyware, ransomware and worms can all target mobile devices, causing harm by gaining control of installed apps. The most common type of malware on Android is known as adware – apps designed to block ads, but that are in fact viruses themselves. Apps like this can send SMS messages to premium phone numbers, which will fall outside your contract and cost extra. They’ve also been known to download harmful apps to infected devices.
What to look out for:
- Don’t be tempted by pop-up ads.
- Ad blocker apps can be malware in disguise.
- Read reviews of apps and pay attention to star ratings.
It is important to keep your phone’s software up to date to ensure the best protection against new viruses or malware threats. Don’t know how to update your phone’s software? Follow these steps for common devices:
- Back up your device using iCloud or your computer.
- Plug your device into a power source and connect to the internet with Wi-Fi to avoid eating into your data allowance.
- Go to Settings > General, then tap Software Update.
- If you see two software update options available, choose the one you want to install.
- Tap Install Now. If you see Download and Install instead, tap it to download the update, enter your passcode, and then tap Install Now.
- Go to Settings > Security.
- Check if a security update is available by tapping Google Security Check-Up. To check if a Google Play system update is available, tap Google Play System Update.
- Follow any steps on the screen.
Connecting to a public WiFi network can pose a serious risk. Hackers can establish unsecured access points in places where people often want to use WiFi, such as cafes, bars and airports. Networks in places like this might appear as legitimate options, but they can be used to access your device and phish through your login credentials. This is called network spoofing.
What to look out for:
- If you’re using a tablet or laptop, consider using your phone as a hotspot (we’ve included a quick guide on how to do this below).
- Stick to names that you know. Starbucks or Virgin Active Gym, for example, are going to be operated by reputable sources. Whereas “Uncle Joey’s Bar and Grill”… perhaps not.
- Be wary of giving away lots of personal information to access public WiFi.
Don’t know how to set up a hotspot on your phone? Here’s how to do it on the most common devices.
- Depending on OS version, go to Settings > Cellular > Personal Hotspot or Settings > Personal Hotspot.
- Tap the slider to allow devices to join the network.
- Underneath you’ll see the password – this is what you need to join.
- Add the details to your laptop’s WiFi settings, and you’re good to go.
- Go to Settings > Connections.
- Scroll down to Mobile Hotspot and Tethering.
- Tap the toggle next to Mobile Hotspot.
- Choose Turn on WiFi Sharing.
- To personalise your hotspot setting, tap on the words Mobile Hotspot.
- Now you can see the password and network name – tap either to customise.
- Go to Settings > Network and Internet.
- Scroll down to Hotspot & Tethering > Portable Hotspot. Here you can view and edit your hotspot details, including the name and password.
- If you edit either, tap Save when you’ve finished making changes.
- Tap the toggle to activate your mobile hotspot.
- Go to Settings > Other Wireless Connections.
- Choose Personal Hotspot > Personal Hotspot Settings.
- Add your WiFi hotspot password, which needs to be at least eight characters long.
- Tap Save when you’re done.
- Tap Back, and then turn on the toggle to enable your personal hotspot.
Phishing emails are usually more effective on mobile devices due to the device’s small screen, making it harder to spot any signs of malicious behaviour. Most email apps will typically show just the name of the sender, while their email address becomes visible once you’ve opened the email. Mobile devices are also more often used in a hurry, another tactic scammers will employ to target half-engaged users with harmful links or attachments.
Similarly, some scammers are able to spoof phone numbers so it may look like a company is really contacting you. It is important to stay vigilant, no matter how genuine a message or email may look.
What to look out for:
- Spelling errors, unusual email addresses and non-official links in emails, texts and on instant messaging apps.
- Requests for personal information – no reputable company or authority will ask for important personal information through email or SMS.
- If you’re ever unsure, contact the sender to verify their intentions.
For more information about spotting scams and reporting them, visit our scams tips page.
We all have tons of apps on our devices, some undoubtedly more well-known than others. Many of them require permissions when first downloaded, often asking for access to the microphone, camera, files or contacts. Some may also ask for personal information to log in, like a credit card number. Here’s what you should consider before downloading a new app.
What to look out for:
- Is this a legitimate app? Do your own research.
- Is it really necessary to grant this app all the permissions it’s asking for?
- Who or what recommended the app to you? Was it a trustworthy source?
- What do the reviews on the app store say?
Some apps with access to the device’s microphone can listen to you through your device, even when you’re not using the app. And some apps on Android can ask for access to your SMS messages and call logs.
Here’s how to find out what your apps have access to on the most common devices:
- Go to Settings > Privacy.
- Tap a category of information, such as Calendars, Reminders or Motion & Fitness. The list shows the apps that requested access. You can turn access on or off for any app on the list.
- To review how apps are using the permissions you grant them, go to Settings > Privacy, then tap App Privacy Report.
- Go to Settings > Apps.
- Tap the app that you want to change. If you can’t find it, tap See All Apps.
- Tap Permissions. If you allowed or denied any permissions for the app, you’ll find them here.
- To change a permission setting, tap it, then choose Allow or Don’t Allow.
It’s important to remember that every smartphone is a little computer. And as with any computer, keeping the operating system (OS) up to date is very important. Not only do updates improve the performance, but they also make devices more secure. The same goes for app updates.
Malware targeting mobile users is becoming more common, and antivirus software like Virgin Media Internet Security is as essential for mobile devices as for a laptop or desktop computer.
Official app stores are less likely to spread malware, but you can get viruses from other sources. Virgin Media Internet Security also comes with a safe browser for your mobile device, which gives an extra layer of protection by filtering harmful sites and links. Another way to counter data leakage is to use strong passwords, and not re-use them on other profiles. This way if your login credentials get compromised, the damage will be limited.
To help protect against these online threats, all Virgin customers can get Virgin Media Internet Security for all of the family’s smartphones, tablets or computers for just £3 a month (or £30 a year). You can try it obligation-free for the first three months – payment details are not taken until the end of the trial period. To get protected today, simply register here, then install Virgin Media Internet Security on all your devices.
All these tips have one theme in common: beware of complacency. It’s important to practise mobile security vigilance whether you’re in an office environment, working remotely or working from home. Here are some more helpful tips.
Don’t share personal information in messages or social media
Personal information that makes you identifiable can be used by cybercriminals. It is recommended you only share the very minimum amount about yourself. Watch out for online quizzes that ask for such information.
Use strong passwords
Don’t use the same password for multiple accounts. Choose something that is easy to remember but a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols. A password manager is helpful in staying on top of this.
Don’t leave your device unattended
No matter where you are. The physical security of your device is just as important as the technical tips here.
Virgin Media Internet Security: New Virgin Media Internet Security customers only. Registration required. One subscription per Virgin Media customer. Not available on BlackBerry. Unlimited devices, after the first 15 devices will need to be registered via F-Secure. £3 per month or annual subscription for £30. See here for full details and here for the fulll terms and conditions.