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How safe are your phone apps?

Priority Level: 
15 November 2017

Smartphones are the one thing we can’t leave home without. They’re our diary, wallet, map and so much more.

But how secure is your phone? Malicious apps can compromise your security no matter what type of phone you have. Where you download apps from and how you use them plays a critical role in keeping your mobile phone secure.

Malicious apps can launch a range of attacks from unwanted pop-up ads to installing ransomware that demands you pay to unlock your files.

You should closely review apps to make sure they’re not fake. Look for poor grammar or spelling, and make sure the name or brand is legitimate—fake ones can look very similar to the real one!

If you are unsure about the legitimacy of an app, contact the business the app purports to be from using contact details sourced from official websites or materials. 

Staying safe

  • Only install apps from official stores such as Apple's App Store or Google Play for android phones or tablets.
  • Avoid installing apps from links in emails, social media, text messages and websites that look suspicious.
  • Use your device’s automatic update feature to install new application and operating system updates as soon as they are available.
  • Read the fine print about how an app will protect your personal data—some apps collect information such as your location and contacts. At the end of the day, if you are not comfortable with how your data is protected, don’t use the app!
  • Make sure you review and manage permissions for each app you download. On an iOS device go to 'Settings > Privacy'. On an Android device go to 'Application Manager' and follow the prompts.
  • Do not remove hardware restrictions—known as ‘rooting’ on Android phones and ‘jailbreaking’ on Apple phones—to install unapproved third party apps. This makes your phone more vulnerable to malware as it reduces the in-built security protection.
  • Uninstall apps when you no longer need them.

More information

Stay Smart Online has information on using mobiles and tablets and protecting yourself from malware.

Report an incident

You can report a cybercrime to the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN) and a scam to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.