8 ways to increase the security of your Android device
Cybercrime statistics are grim and getting worse. Yes, it CAN happen to you! Android powers 70% of phones worldwide; according to a recent research paper from the University of Cambridge, 87% are extremely vulnerable.
Luckily, there are some very powerful, common-sense everyday ways to make your Android more resilient to cyber threats and occasional tampering.
We’ll first look at the important general options you need to implement on all your devices, and then we’ll look at some great but little-known Android phone settings that can make all the difference to your phone’s security.
The two basic security rules that protect all your devices
The constant erosion of our privacy is the cause of many of our cybersecurity problems. A VPN has become essential for your phone and all your other devices. A startling proportion of identity theft, online fraud and massive data breaches are directly attributed to people using the internet without privacy protections.
Protect your privacy with a VPN
It is essential to keep your login credentials, internet searches and browsing history private. Never connect to public or free Wi-Fi services without a
- not a scam! vpn. This includes your friends’ home networks, school or work networks, and even mobile data connections. You never know who is watching!
A US VPN will ensure you don’t accidentally run into geolocation fences at school or work.
Use two-factor authentication
Open your chat histories, emails, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and dating apps to the world by reusing and sharing your passwords.
We’re kidding ! Stop snoopers and criminals from getting their sweaty paws on your stuff by implementing 2FA. The minor inconvenience of an extra security step associated with using 2FA is well worth the peace of mind.
It doesn’t matter what device you use. Download a reputable authenticator, use your phone’s own “security key,” or better yet, get a standalone hardware key to control logins to your email and other accounts.
These two rules could make the most significant difference to your internet security, and they’re pretty easy to install. But then we will look at some Android-specific rules and settings to protect your Android phone data from hackers and snoopers.
Five more little-known Android security tips
Here are some little-known Android settings to maintain your privacy and boost your security simultaneously.
Be very careful in the Google Play Store
Malicious Android apps steal your data and financial information. Even worse: they can provide a quick way for criminals to take over your home network or your company’s database. Google does not review all apps in the Play Store.
Researchers regularly discover new batches of malicious Android apps in the Google Play Store.
The apps present themselves as free antiviruses or VPNs, image editing tools, system optimizers, QR scanners, and more. Instead, they subscribe users to premium services, steal login credentials and social media accounts, and drive you crazy with intrusive advertisements.
Look at these app permissions
New versions of Android (finally!) include new app permission options. This is a very important development for users as you can now choose to have apps only access your location when actively used instead of all the time or allow access on a limited basis .
However, any apps that were already installed on your phone before these upgrades arrived would still have full and unrestricted access to everything on your phone. That’s why you should regularly re-evaluate each app’s settings.
Go to Settings >> Privacy >> Permissions Manager. Go through the list of location, camera, and microphone permissions. Otherwise, go to “Applications” and browse the list of applications. You can adjust the level of access for each app or remove permission entirely.
View information on the lock screen
Android’s default notification setting shows everything even after you lock your screen and also makes all app shortcuts available on a locked device. This can allow someone else, for example, to change the network connection or change other settings. They may not have full access, but it’s a really bad idea to leave sensitive stuff there for the world to see.
Restrict notifications as follows:
Settings >> Privacy >> Notifications on lock screen. You can choose between “Show all notification content” and “Show sensitive content only when unlocked” or “Don’t show notifications at all”.
Prevent occasional changes to your settings like this:
Settings >> Display >> Lock Screen. Switch “Show device controls” to “Off”.
When the boss (or mom!) wants to see your phone: use app pinning
If you need to give your phone to friends, boss, mom or relative to check something on your phone then you should use app pinning to lock phone to one app. If someone accidentally or intentionally navigates away from the app, it will ask for authentication before they can access anything else.
First, you need to enable app pinning in Settings >> Security >> “app pinning”, “pinning windows” or “pinning screen”. It could be under “Advanced” or “Other” settings. Toggle the feature to “On” and also enable “Ask for unlock pattern before unpinning”.
The next time you need to hand over your phone, quickly open the system overview interface. Find the app you want to pin in the preview area. Tap on the map to display the “Pin” option.
Enable the “Find my device” setting
Losing your phone is like a punch in the stomach. It should be a relief that Android has its own built-in app for finding, locking, or wiping a device remotely. Check that it is enabled:
Settings >> Security >> Find My Device
Confirm the setting by going to android.com/find (any browser) or by searching Google for “find my device”. Log in to your Google account. You should be able to see your phone’s last known location and lock or wipe it.
One last security tip: don’t forget about phishing
You can install and maintain all the Android security controls you want, but email is still one of the main ways hackers gain access to your phone.
Check before you click! Your phone knows more about you than anyone else – don’t let cybercriminals exploit that. Keep your device up to date. Use a reputable antivirus and VPN with advanced threat detection (not dubious “free” antivirus from Google Play). We need all the help we can get!
Filed Under: Android News, Guides
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