Being safer with apps


Close lesson
You have completed 0%

Being safer with apps

Catching up on today's news on a tablet device

What's coming up?

With reasonable care, your smartphone can help you in many more ways than just making calls. But it can also present some risks.

In this activity, we will help you understand how to reduce risks by using apps and your mobile devices safely.

Start activity
The icons for the official app stores for Apple devices and Android devices

Only use apps from official stores

Apps for your iPhone or iPad should only ever be obtained from the App Store, while apps for Android devices should only be obtained from Google Play.

Apps obtained from anywhere else may well be dangerous, and could try to misuse your information or put a virus on your phone.

Only use official government and banking apps

When you're using apps for government and banking services, you're dealing with your most sensitive and valuable information. You should only ever use official apps for this purpose. Those are apps created by the government department or by your bank.

A zoomed-in view of a search for Australian Government apps in an official app store
A zoomed-in view of the publisher's name next to an app in an official app store

How to check for an official app

To check an app is official, look for the name of the publisher on the information page of the app (App Store or Google Play), and on the search page (Google Play only).

For example, when you see Commonwealth Bank of Australia as the publisher for that banking app, or Department of Human Services for the Express Plus Medicare app, you can be sure you've found the official apps.

Search stores for official government apps

You can find official government apps on Google Play or the App Store by searching for the publisher.

For example, entering Australian Government in the search bar presents a list of official Australian Government apps. Don't scroll down too far, however, because apps from other sources can appear at the bottom of the list.

A zoomed-in view of a search for official Australian Government apps on an official app store
Using an app on a tablet device

Why do they want my personal details?

It makes sense for a banking or government services app to ask for your personal details, and many apps will ask for permission to obtain your location from your phone. It's usually safe to agree to share your location information, and transport apps and Google Maps, for instance, need your location to work accurately.

When to give personal details

Even though apps obtained through the App Store or Google Play are generally safe, you should still be careful. When an app asks you for personal information or for permission to do something, make sure you understand why it's required.

An example of a request from an authentic Australian Government app for you to provide your location
An example of an app behaving strangely by trying to control your phone calls - this is an example of an app you should decline and remove from your device

When not to give personal details

Sometimes apps ask for things that don't seem right. One app for a recent computer exhibition wanted permission to make and manage phone calls and would not work without that permission. This is an app you would be wise to delete.

It's possible these things won't cause problems, but you should ask yourself whether you need the app enough to take that chance.

Some apps are safer than others

Following the news is a good way to stay informed about problem apps. Be alert to reports about apps that misuse personal information. Also, look out for apps that make protecting your information a priority of their service. If security and privacy are a company's main selling point, it's likely to be more careful with your data.

A news feed app being used on a smartphone
A graphic of Free Public Wi-Fi crossed through to warn it's not always safe to use

Be careful with free public Wi-Fi

Free public Wi-Fi can be a convenient way to access the internet while you're out and about, but it's not very secure.

It's best not to use any apps that require a password when you're using free public Wi-Fi. Not for your bank. Not for a government service. Not even for the App Store or Google Play.


You've completed the Being safer with apps activity.

Coming up next, if you have registered and are logged into the Be Connected website, you'll now be able to take a short quiz to finish the What is an app? course.

If you're not registered, you are now at the end of the course.

Apps can be used on smartphones and on computers, but they may have slightly different features available