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Mobile Data Security: Everything you need to know

Mobile data is amazing. We've come to rely on it so much when out and about, we simply wouldn't function without it! But is it safe? In our mobile data security guide below, we answer all your burning questions.

Is mobile data secure?

You can surf the internet using either 3G, 4G, or 5G mobile data (the higher the data technology, the faster it is). Nowadays, people use mobile data almost as much as they use Wi-Fi. Using data is such a common and popular method of connecting to the internet, but is it safe?

Mobile data tends to be safer than public Wi-Fi networks (like connecting to a cafe’s internet), as the information that is sent and received is encrypted. This means that people who manage to intercept your signal won’t be able to decode and read the information. 

It could be considered safer than private Wi-Fi too. Routers at home usually require a password to log into. It’s easier for someone to find that password than it would be for most amateur internet users to gain access to your data network. 

Can mobile data be hacked?

Again, as with all technology, you’re always at risk of being hacked, though there are a bunch of security measures you could take to reduce your chances. As we’ve said, it’s easier for people to hack into public Wi-Fi networks, as they don’t tend to have much security over their passwords, than a mobile data signal. 

In saying that though, it’s still possible for your mobile data to be hacked. Any wireless internet connection is susceptible to prying eyes. Fortunately, there are some clear signs that you can look out for which will alert you if you’ve been hacked. 

The first, and most obvious, is your mobile data suddenly running out without you using it. It’s a good idea to keep an eye on your mobile data usage to check for any irregularities like this. 

Other signs you’ve been hacked include:

  • Random messages popping up or being sent to friends
  • Browser searches you didn’t enter
  • Redirected internet searches
  • Online passwords not working
  • Battery draining quickly
  • New applications appearing on your home screen
  • Unusual activity on online accounts

Here’s how to recognise and remove viruses from your smartphone.

Can mobile data be tracked?

Your activity on mobile data can be tracked. 

Your internet service provider (ISP) can see all the activity on your browsing history, which means they have a record of what you do when on mobile data. Your ISP can see which websites you visit, how long you spend on each link, the type of content you search for and consume, and your location (even if your location services are off). Further, you can be tracked by cellular towers when you make phone calls or send messages. 

This, of course, will feel like a violation of privacy for many, as your ISP can uncover a lot about you using your browsing history. Some people prefer to use a VPN to mask their activity, but there’s no confirming that your online actions aren’t being monitored and stored somewhere. 

In this age of technology, nothing is truly private anymore. 

Can mobile data turn itself on or off?

Technically, your mobile data can turn itself on or off if you haven’t set your preferences properly in your device’s settings. Even if you have data turned off, you may have another toggle turned on to allow your phone to use mobile data if your Wi-Fi connection is low or gone. 

Another reason your mobile data could be turning itself on or off could be to do with your provider. Check if your phone’s provider is having difficulties that could be leading to cellular data issues. 

Here’s how to check what you have on and off in your settings:

iPhone

Go to:

Settings > Mobile Data

From here, you’ll be able to see if your mobile data is switched on (green) or off (grey), as well as select which generation of data you want your phone to use (4G or 5G, usually), and your usage. 

Android

Go to:

Settings > Connections > Data usage > Switch toggle to on (blue) or off (grey)

It’s important to remember that not every Android phone is alike. So if your specific model doesn’t have the same settings, you may need to refer to your manufacturer’s guide for assistance. 

More security

If you’re concerned about your phone being compromised, you may need to consider wiping your device to remove any malware or security issues. Alternatively, you could invest in a phone designed for privacy.

You may also be interested in reading:

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