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Smartphone security: How to protect your information

Any device with an internet connection is vulnerable to viruses, including smartphones.

But with scammers attempting to steal personal data through email, phishing and other means, are you doing the best you can to keep your smartphone secure and protect your information?

From learning how to recognise, avoid and report phone scams to choosing the best phones for privacy, we’ve put together this guide to help you stay one step ahead of the scammers and bolster your smartphone security.

Why is smartphone security important?

Nowadays, we use smartphones for almost everything. The SIM cards inside them store incredibly sensitive information, such as social media passwords and even bank details!

With so much of our lives connected to our smartphones, it’s important to keep them secure lest the information they contain falls into the wrong hands.

What types of viruses can affect smartphone security?

Viruses can be a bit scary, but with the right know-how, you’ll be able to prevent your smartphone from being compromised.

Smartphones are at risk of catching various forms of malware, such as:


A type of virus that encrypts your personal data so it’s no longer accessible.

The culprit will then demand a ransom (to be paid, anonymously, through bitcoin for example) to release the files.

However, even if you pay, there’s no guarantee that your files will be returned to you!


Have you given any thought to app safety? Usually attached to apps, this type of virus looks legitimate, but once downloaded, it can install itself onto your smartphone and track your activity.

The hacker will then have access to your location, usernames and passwords for various sites.

It’s harder to know if there’s spyware on your phone, as it can easily go undetected and steal your information from the background.

Trojan horse

Appearing mainly as text messages or software, trojans can intercept the content of messages, uncovering personal information. They can also send messages at a premium rate to increase your phone bill.

Additionally, the cyber-criminals that are spying on your smartphone will be able to access its entirety - deleting, blocking or changing your data as they go.

Trojans come in multiple forms, all of which can render your smartphone completely unusable after tracking and stealing your personal data.


Advertisement pop-ups are common on websites, but adware is when multiple pop-ups continuously appear, almost crashing the site you’re trying to access.

Although adware doesn’t always pose a serious risk, it can still track your activity and steal your information, not good if you’re worried about mobile data security.


Spread through text messaging, this virus allows the hackers behind it to load malware onto your smartphone, which ultimately steals your personal data.


If you're worried about your smartphone being infected with a virus, then check out our guide to recognising malicious apps and viruses.

What do viruses do to smartphones?

If a virus infects your smartphone, you’re at risk of someone else stealing your private information.

This includes bank details (as well as the login and password for your online banking app), personal information about you from social media, your current location, and more.

Depending on the severity of the virus, they can also completely crash your smartphone, rendering it unusable. 

How do you know if your smartphone has a virus?

There are a few tell-tale signs that your smartphone could be infected with a virus, such as:

  • Apps taking longer to load or install
  • Random apps showing up on your smartphone home screen
  • Battery draining quicker than usual
  • People receiving messages from you that you didn’t send
  • Sharp increase in data usage
  • More pop-ups than usual
  • Overheating
  • Fraudulent phone charges

If you notice any or all of these symptoms occurring within your smartphone, contact the manufacturer on a different device for guidance.

How to remove viruses from iPhone and Android


  1. Buy and download antimalware software, which scans your smartphone for viruses, deletes the affected apps, and provides protection for the future
  2. Ensure all your data is backed up
  3. Clear your history and data by going to Settings > Safari > Clear History and Website Data
  4. Restart your iPhone

If the malware is still present, you can either:

  1. Try to restore your backed-up information to a time before the virus was on your device
  2. Erase your phone completely by going to Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings


  1. Buy and download antimalware software
  2. Turn off your Android phone
  3. Activate Safe Mode by holding the power button > tap Restart > click Reboot to Safe mode > hold the volume down button until your device pops up > click Safe mode in the lower left corner
  4. Change your Android’s administrators settings by going to Settings > Security > Device Administrator > Deactivate the malware’s access to reconfigure the settings
  5. Find and uninstall the affected app by going to Settings > Apps > App Manager > Select the infected app/s > Uninstall/Force close > Uninstall or Disable to remove from your Android 

If the malware is still present:

  1. Perform a full factory reset to completely erase and restart your Android phone

Smartphone security tips to protect your information 

Sometimes a virus can get onto your phone without you even realising it, but there are several things you can do to help protect your information, including: 

Set a strong password

If your smartphone gets lost or stolen, it will be much harder to hack into and steal your information with a strong, secure PIN/password in place.

There are many ways to securely lock your phone, including:

  • A PIN of 6 or more digits (preferable to a 4-digit PIN, or a pattern)
  • Custom password of letters, numbers and special characters
  • Fingerprint scanner e.g. Touch ID
  • Facial recognition 

You can use a password manager to generate and store long, secure passwords.

Stick to trustworthy apps

Web stores, such as Google Play for Android and the App Store for iOS are fine. But avoid downloading apps from unknown sites or directly through links; these can carry viruses!

Sadly, even Google Play and the App Store have had viruses slip past their screening checks. That’s why it’s imperative you read the reviews first, before downloading any app.

And don’t forget to look over the App Permissions prior to completing installation, as many apps will request access to your location, camera, microphone, contacts, calendar, and more. 

Buy your smartphone from a legitimate company

Fake phones are often sold from illegitimate manufacturers, and are already preloaded with all types of malware.

If you’re buying a refurbished smartphone from an online retailer, make sure you know what it’s supposed to look like when it arrives. If the interface doesn’t look like a typical iPhone or Android, immediately report it or return the device without entering any personal information.

Check out pre-owned smartphones you can trust with Asda mobile!

Only use secure Wi-Fi

Connect to safe, private networks, like at home. While tempting, open wireless networks (such as those in cafes or at train stations) are often free for anyone to use. This means that someone with the necessary skills could easily infiltrate your device.

Alternatively, use your smartphone’s mobile data; it's safer than connecting to a public network!

Don’t open suspicious links or attachments

If you receive a text message or email that contains a hyperlink or attachment, don’t click on it unless you know it’s completely safe.

If the message has come from a familiar person, like a friend or family member, contact them directly through a different method (like a phone call) and check that it’s legitimate. 

Avoid suspicious websites

Steer clear of suspicious and unsafe websites, as these will usually harbour viruses and other malware.

A good way to know if a website is secure is by looking for the padlock in the website’s URL bar (https://). If there’s no padlock, chances are that the website isn’t secure; you should exit immediately to avoid catching a virus. 

Never install pirate software

Not only is pirating against the law, but it’s also incredibly dangerous. Pirate software can infect your phone, tablet or laptop with a host of viruses, and many of them are missing the trusty secure padlock in the URL.

Download extra security 

Provide extra protection for your personal data by downloading additional security measures to your smartphone. Choose from the countless antivirus programs and apps available from official app stores.

If you’re a parent, you may want to consider parental control software, too, as an additional means of keeping your child safe online.


For more insights into smartphone security and other helpful topics, follow us on Twitter and Facebook!

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