Tips on how to stay safe online during the COVID-19 pandemic

Phones and tablets

Smartphones and tablets allow calls, messaging and 24-hour internet access from just about anywhere.

With so much personal information stored on our devices, in the apps we use, in our email accounts and our contacts, we must keep all our devices safe and secure.

What to do

Follow these easy steps to increase the security on your devices. Watch the ‘how to’ videos below for advice on how to put these tips into action, including videos for different devices and platforms.

Keep track of your devices

Phones and tablets are small and therefore easily mislaid. Never leave them unattended and try to develop a routine so that you check that you have your device every time you leave anywhere.

Set passcodes or biometric logins

Smart devices usually use PIN codes or swipe patterns for security, and these act in the same way as passwords. Some smart devices allow you to use fingerprint logins or other kinds of biometrics. PIN codes for smart devices should be treated like PIN codes for credit cards — and never be shared.

Set strong passwords or ‘pass phrases’

One of the best security measures you can take is to set strong passwords or ‘pass phrases’. See protecting personal information for advice on setting secure passwords.

Block your phone number

One of the easiest safety steps is blocking your phone number so you cannot be identified when you call other people. Blocking your phone number stops your number being displayed when you call others. This is useful if you do not want the person you are calling to be able to call you back.

Call blocking does not work for SMS, MMS or other messaging. It only works for phone calls.

Turn off Bluetooth, GPS and location services

Smart devices have Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and GPS. For extra safety, turn these features off when you are not using them. Many apps have features that track your location. Remember to turn off location services when you don't need them in individual apps.

Manage in-app purchasing

In-app purchases allow different functions and features to be accessed within apps. If these are not monitored — for example, if you have children who have access to these apps — these can become expensive. You can limit and monitor ‘in-app purchases’ through Settings on your device. You can turn off in-app purchases, set passwords that only you know and restrict purchases to those that are age-appropriate.

Protect your device

Android devices are more susceptible to viruses, malware and spyware than Apple devices. There are apps you can download to reduce the risks, including some that offer basic protection for free.

Smart devices regularly notify you of system and app updates and ask to install them. You should accept updates as they will then have the latest security features, bug fixes and new features. It is best to start updates when you are connected to Wi-Fi as they can use a lot of data.

Back up important music, photos, videos and data on your device to a computer, and also consider a doing a second backup to a separate portable disk drive or USB.

'How to' videos

How to videos - includes all videos relating to phones and tablets.

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