5 Tips for safe internet use on your mobile phone

The Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) encourages safe internet use on your mobile devices.

Mobile phones are an essential part of our everyday lives, enabling us to stay connected to work, community, friends, and family.

With the COVID-19 pandemic still keeping many people working from home, Australians are spending more and more time on their mobile devices.

February 9 is Safer Internet Day, and the AMTA is proud to support the eSafety Commissioner in promoting the opportunity for all to ‘start the chat’ about being safer online.

AMTA’s five (5) tips to raise awareness of safer internet use and help Australians stay safe online across their workplace and community.

1. Be aware of misinformation online.

Digital platforms are a key source of news and information for many Australians. New research from Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) found that 48 per cent of Australians rely on online news or social media as their main source of news, which is more likely to be accessed through mobile phones and apps.

Before sharing news or information on your mobile or social media apps with your colleagues, friends, family, and community, consider taking the time to ensure that the information is factual and correct. There are tools that can assist you in finding out whether the article you are reading includes disinformation are social media platforms that are starting to introduce measures to combat misinformation, like Twitter which has started adding context labels to posts and recently launched a new misinformation tool called Birdwatch.

Being aware of misinformation and not engaging with potentially misleading news helps to make the internet a safer space.

2. Separate your work and personal devices.

It’s important to carve out boundaries between your work and home life, and the same is true for your personal and work devices.

While it may seem inconvenient to switch back and forth between multiple devices, one of the key challenges is protecting sensitive corporate data. The more work programs and software that you install on your personal devices, like your mobile phone, increases the potential vulnerabilities. So, where possible, it’s best to keep your main work device and main personal device separate or at the very least ensure that your IT team puts strong security measures in place on your personal device if you are using it for work to reduce the chance of any cybersecurity complications.

3. Make sure your online systems, programs and apps are up to date.

Software updates are important to your digital safety and cyber security. Taking the time to update your mobile phone operating system, apps, and software can help ensure that your data is stored securely, and the sooner you update the sooner you’ll feel confident your data and device is secure.

Software updates offer plenty of benefits including repairing any vulnerabilities, such as security holes, and removing computer bugs that can let hackers gain access to your mobile device. Another benefit of updating your systems and programs is that it can add new features to your devices and remove outdated ones, making your device load faster and improving the overall function.

4. Build your digital skills to safely connect online.

Digital skills and knowledge are becoming more essential and being forced to work remotely has highlighted the importance of having and developing them. Regardless of the type of work you do, there are opportunities to improve your digital literacy, especially around new technologies and trends that are arising such as doxing, which is the intentional online exposure of an individuals’ identity or personal details, deepfakes, and augmented and virtual reality.

Taking the time to review where you are personally and professionally with your digital skills can assist you in finding gaps where you can improve so you are better at safely engaging online. There are many learning options available online to improve digital literacy. To begin, the Australian Government eSafety website has some great resources.

5. Stay secure when working remotely.

Remote working has become the new normal for many workplaces and that’s why it’s more important than ever that you think about your home office security.

One simple way to improve your safety and security when working remotely is to strengthen the security of your home Wi-Fi network. Making sure your password is strong and unique, alongside having a personalised random network name (SSID) helps avoid hackers gaining access to your workplace computer system and data.

If your only access point to the internet is on the cellular network through the hotspot function on your mobile, the same rule applies with creating a personalised random hotspot network name and a strong password.

It’s also a good idea to check in with your employer to see if they have any practices in place before taking your own measures to protect your online security at home.