Securing smartphones and tablets

Find out more about keeping your devices safe and secure.

Your device and your personal data

With smartphones, tablets and other devices containing a wealth of personal information they have become more attractive to criminals not just for the cost of the phone but for access to the data inside it too. Manufacturers have put in controls that will help you keep your device and data secure. Take some time to go through and set up the security options when you buy a new device and review the settings again every few months.

You can go directly to the manufacturers websites for their guides by following the links below (will take you to external websites). We’ve also included a rundown of our top tips to secure your device after the links.

Keep your devices updated

Cyber criminals look to find and exploit weaknesses in your devices software or the apps that you run. Providers, however, continually provide security fixes to keep your protection in place. If you update to the latest version regularly - the simplest way to do this is to turn on automatic updates - you can immediately improve your security.

Set up security to prevent access by others

Your device is likely to come with several options for you to prevent access to it by others. These include setting up PINS or passwords, pattern swipes and biometric measures such as fingerprint and facial recognition. Choose the one for you that provides the right balance of security and convenience.

Set up ‘find my’ device where available

Setting up a find my device service will help you control what happens to your data should your device be lost or stolen. If the device is still online you can take actions such as locate its whereabouts on a map, lock the screen, sound an alarm or wipe all the data from it.

More ways to stay safe

Storing all your data on just your device alone means that if it is lost, stolen or hacked you could end up losing it all. You can back up all your data or just the most precious information to another device or to a cloud storage solution so that if the worst happens you can recover it.


Using the same password across multiple applications is a bad idea – if the password for one of these becomes known it could be used to gain access to others. In particular your personal email account is often used to prove who you are when resetting passwords for other services. For this reason it’s important to ensure that the password protecting this is both strong (hard to guess) and unique.



As the length of your chosen password increases so does the difficulty of someone else guessing it. The problem is that complicated passwords full of random numbers, upper and lower case letters and special characters are very difficult to remember. There’s a really simple way to create a very strong password that’s easier to remember. By just joining three random but memorable words together you can create a long password that you can recall. For example ‘cookeryzebratokyo’. You can add a capitalisation, special characters, and numbers if you like to make it even harder to crack or where a system requires them.

You may have noticed that some services you access not only require your password to log in but also send a code to your phone which you enter to prove its you. This is an example of two factor authentication. It means that even if a cybercriminal has your password, they won’t be able to access your account without knowing the code too. It’s a great idea to set this up on the accounts you care about most first such as your personal email account.


Be particularly cautious of downloading apps from links posted in forums and on social media. Instead download them from official app stores such as the App Store (Apple) or Play Store (Android). Even on the official app stores read the reviews and understand the access permissions the app requires to help you make an informed decision on whether you consider it safe to install.



To protect your SIM from being accessed in another device, you can also set up a SIM PIN, more commonly known as a SIM lock. You can do this under the Settings > Security section of your phone.


When it’s time to say goodbye to your smartphone or tablet, you need to dispose of it carefully. The personal information stored on your device – contacts, photos, videos, etc. – could be accessed and used by criminals. Make sure all sensitive information is completely removed before you sell, donate, give away, or scrap your device. You can do this by following these simple steps:

  1. Before you delete anything, copy your data from your device to your computer – or back it up to cloud storage. Check that you can access your backup and that everything is safely there before moving on to the next step.
  2. If you have an Android phone, enable encryption on the device. To do this, head to Settings > Security > Advanced > Encryption & Credentials and select ‘Encrypt phone’. If you have an iPhone, encryption is already enabled on by default.
  3. Follow the manufacturers guidance to erase all data and restore the device to its factory settings.

If your device is at the end of its life and you don’t intend to sell it or give it away, take it to a recognised disposal facility who can recycle it safely and responsibly.

Ransomware is a type of malicious software that blocks access to your device until a sum of money is paid. There’s no guarantee when paying a ransom that the scammer will release your files back to you.

You can reduce the impact of a ransomware attack by taking the following precautions:

  • Avoid clicking on any links or attachments in irregular emails or emails you receive from unknown senders
  • Install software updates on your devices as they become available, as these will often fix security vulnerabilities
  • Regularly back up your important files. Once backed up, disconnect the storage device from your computer as if it’s been infected by ransomware it’ll try to spread there too
  • Install anti-virus on your computer and keep it updated