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Protect your personal information: update your apps

Cyber attacks on personal devices are on the rise. Last week even WhatsApp was hit, posing a serious threat to users. So, what should you do?

You're in the middle of doing something online, when your device decides to automatically update its programs. Everything comes to a grinding halt. It's annoying, it's a hassle but these updates help protect your personal information from hackers and identity thieves.

The importance of updating your apps

A mobile app is a program or piece of software that can be downloaded to a device such as your smart phone or tablet. 

There are millions of apps available in Apple's App Store and Google Play Store. 

They can be used for online banking, sending messages, playing games and more.

Developers update their apps for a number of reasons, including security improvements. 

When you update your app (manually or automatically via your device), you are ensuring that you have the most up-to-date release of the software program. If a developer has identified a potential security flaw, they will usually fix the issue in time for the release.

But it's not a fool-proof system. Cyber criminals are pretty good at what they do. 

As a result, all apps are vulnerable to security breaches, even those with strong system protections like WhatsApp.

What happened with WhatsApp?

WhatsApp is a messaging service owned by Facebook. It has 1.5 billion users world-wide and offers end-to-end encryption.

This means that when you send a message, photo, video or document, it is encrypted so that only you and the recipient can see the contents.

WhatsApp is regarded as a highly secure messaging platform, but it was the target of a sophisticated cyber attack last week. Hackers remotely installed surveillance software on devices via the app's voice calling function.

WhatsApp quickly encouraged its users to update the app once the issue had been fixed.

How many people were impacted? It's too early to tell. But it does highlight the importance of being vigilant when online, and updating your apps regularly.

How to update your apps

Many apps automatically update.

If you do need to update yourself, follow these instructions:

If you would like to know more about online safety and using mobile apps, we can help.

Keep informed with National Seniors

Online safety, data and using mobile apps are just some of the topics covered in Be Connected - a free online program designed to help older Australians connect to, and get the most out of the internet.

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