Person using smartphone to pay at a card reader displaying 'Enter PIN' on screen.

We all take great care with our laptops and desktop PCs, installing no end of anti-virus and anti-malware software. But we dont always do the same to keep our smartphones secure, even though we use them the same way as laptops. If you've recently started to worry about smartphone security, here are 10 things you can do right now to make using your device safer and more secure:

  • Get anti-virus software. Got a new smartphone? One of the first things you should do after you've copied over all of your contacts and got your home screen just how you like it is to download a good anti-virus program. Many free options can be downloaded easily, and they dont interfere with fast browsing. These will protect your phone from all but the most sophisticated and high-level attacks, hacks, spyware and malware. Mobile security anti-virus software also helps you to download apps with confidence, as it can otherwise be very easy to accidentally download a dodgy app that installs lots of unwanted software on your phone.

  • Invest in cyber security and bug detection software and tech. Anti-virus software is a good start when it comes to protecting your phone on the go, but there are more advanced technologies and programs you could be using. If you believe your phone has been tapped or your calls listened to, you may want to consider investing in more sophisticated, deep-level cyber security software. Online Spy Shop also has bug detection devices that you can take anywhere with you, place your phone inside and enjoy complete protection from bugs and spyware. This technology visually alerts you upon detecting any attempt to eavesdrop or access your phone and emits subtle white noise protection.

  • PIN or fingerprint protect your lock screen. If you lose your phone or someone takes it, how easy is it for them to start using it? Your lock screen is the first barrier to someone accessing your phone, so it's important to put as much protection as possible on it. If your phone uses fingerprint recognition technology, use it. If not, use pattern, pin or password access to restrict access to your phone. Accessing your phone may take an extra second, but the security benefits make it worth the inconvenience.

  • Consider locking your apps. Protecting your phone is all about adding layers of protection, and you can add a further one with app-locking software. This is usually free and allows you to restrict access to individual apps, making them only accessible with a fingerprint, pattern or PIN. It should be easy to toggle locks on and off your most-used apps; accessing them only takes an extra second.

  • Turn Bluetooth and Wi-Fi off when you're not using them. Bluetooth and Wi-Fi offer fantastic connectivity to keep your smartphone secure and open the door to hackers. Turning off these features when not using them can close the gate to unwanted attacks. After all, it only takes a second to turn each of these back on again when you need them.

  • Update your software and apps. Updates can be a real pain, but there is a reason why it's important to keep all of your apps and software updated with the latest versions. Software manufacturers are always reassessing their products to spot security gaps, and when they do, a new, updated version of the product containing a security patch is produced. If you dont have these patched versions, you could suffer because of the newly identified security gap.

  • Consider vault apps for your files and passwords. Vault applications allow you to lock sensitive data, files and passwords away in a secure space on your device or an SD card. If your smartphone security is breached, this second layer ensures no one can access your data, files and passwords. You can access your data using a master password or a multi-stage verification process. Password vaults also help simplify how you use your phone. All you have to remember is one (albeit long and complicated) password to access everything you need, no more time spent endlessly resetting and recovering lost passwords.

  • Enable 'Find My Phone' apps and location tracking features. There are two ways to look at location tracking. Some people are very suspicious of it as a way for malicious parties to find out where you and your phone are at any given time, while others see it as a vital way of tracking their device if it is stolen or goes missing. It's up to you how you use location tracking features, but 'finding my phone' app can be essential if your device is lost or stolen.

  • Be careful what you download. This is a must on all devices, and it starts with getting a robust anti-virus program to filter out those bogus or harmful files and app downloads. Look carefully at what the app requests permission to do before downloading, and never ignore security warnings. Read, use reviews carefully and perhaps stick to the official, approved apps that you know you can trust.

  • Back up your data. As well as storing sensitive data and files in a safe place, it's also a good idea to make backup copies in another location just in case your phone is ever stolen, broken or lost. The simple solution to data backups is cloud-based software like Dropbox, OneDrive or Google Drive, and you can usually set up automatic backups to save data regularly. If you're worried about the security of cloud services, you can save your backup data to an external hard drive or similar device.