Step 1: Keep your operating system up to date
Device manufacturers, mobile operators and Google seem to be forever pushing out over-the-air OS updates to your phone and tablet, but they’re not doing it just to irritate you – these updates generally contain bug fixes and enhancements designed to make your device more secure. So, if you see that little alert in your notifications bar, don’t ignore it or put it off. Opt to install the update.
To check for an update on Android go to Settings, click on ‘About phone’ or ‘About tablet’ option, and select ‘System Updates’.
Apple users will have iOS updates foisted upon them in one fell swoop – just follow the steps onscreen when it lands to install.
Step 2: Only download from legitimate app stores
Google, Amazon, Samsung, HTC and Apple – as well as mobile networks – all monitor their app stores, keeping an eye out for all manner of potentially harmful apps and bogus programs. Malicious apps sometimes do manage to slip through the cracks, often disguised as legitimate ones however. Be wise to anything that makes outrageous claims or looks a little suspect and always read the user reviews to get an inkling as to how the app holds up.
Step 3: Prevent apps from unknown sources from being installed
Androiders have access to a handy feature within the OS that allows you to prevent apps from being installed from anywhere other than Google Play. To get going with this, head to ‘Settings’, then to ‘Security’, then finally to ‘Device Administration’ and look for the Unknown Sources box. Tap to remove the tick (only if it’s present) and hey presto, no apps from unverified sources will find their way on to your device.
Step 4: Check permissions
We know how easy it is to mindlessly tap ‘accept’ when that long and boring list of app permissions pops up on screen, but you’d do well to have a read over what it’s asking to do before you install your chosen app.
Whilst it’s true that a lot of apps need access to certain areas of your device – a photo app would be pretty useless if it couldn’t access your camera – alarm bells should ring if the app you’re about to install wants your payment details, browsing habits and call data, especially if it’s a novelty fart noise simulator. If anything looks suspicious, simply don’t install.
Step 5: Install and use an antivirus app
Apple’s app store vets apps more rigorously than other marketplaces, so the chance of installing a rogue one is significantly reduced. Similarly, all Android versions above 2.2 have access to Google’s malware scanner and will warn you of potential threats prior to installing anything downloaded from outside of Google Play.
Even so, you can beat the peace of mind and extra layer of protection offered by third-party antivirus apps. There are loads to choose from – all the big name players are represented, including Avast, AVG, Symantec and BitDefender, and all have standard and premium solutions to meet your needs. Download and install one now.
Step 6: Think twice about that free Wi-Fi…
There are few things more tempting than a free public Wi-Fi, but think twice before conencting to a seemingly harmless network when you’re out and about, as scam Wi-Fi hubs will steal your sensitive data and leave you in the lurch. You should always check with event administrators and services to make sure you’re connecting to a valid network before hitting ‘OK’.