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Online Safety & Security

In this section we will look at Online Security, Online Safety, Radicalisation and Extremism

Mobile Apps

We use them to play games, send messages, to check the news and weather and use maps and navigation services. Increasingly we are also using them to do our banking. While apps provide a simple and easy means of accessing great content and services, it’s important to be aware of how to use them safely and securely.

It is possible for some apps to exploit your mobile device once installed. This possibility increases if you install an app from a less reputable (or unknown) source. For example, someone could take a popular paid-for app, add their own illegitimate elements and then offer it for free on ‘bulletin boards’ or ‘peer-to-peer’ networks. Once the rogue app has been installed to your phone, the hacker could potentially take control of the handset, make calls, incur charges via premium SMS without your permission, or send and intercept SMS and voicemail messages. Avoid apps from unauthorised sources, such as ‘bulletin boards’ or ‘peer-to-peer’ networks. Instead, download your apps from official stores. Above all, exercise caution - research the app and check reviews before downloading it.

Be aware of what permissions you are granting

When you download an app, it will often ask whether it can access certain systems or data on your device. This is known as a ‘permission request’ or a ‘permission’. For example, navigation apps may ask for permission to use your “current location” in order to provide accurate directions and location information. Photo editing apps may ask to gain access to your photos so that you can edit photos you take on your handset through the app.

It is generally agreed that developers should only request data and features directly necessary for the app to run. Some apps, however, may request additional permissions beyond what is strictly necessary for the particular app being accessed to function.

In order to protect your personal information, carefully read permission requests upon download or when prompted and ensure you are comfortable with the information you are authorising the app to use.  If you are not comfortable with the requested permissions, you should deny the request or search for an alternative app.