10 Tips on Securing Your Android Phone
If you have just recently purchased a new Android phone, you might have heard your friends or family telling you how Apple phones are much more secure when it comes to hackers compromising your phone’s security. The truth is, old Android phones are much more vulnerable to smartphone attacks and don’t forget that Apple’s iOS 11 got hacked in just one day.
So clearly things just aren’t that simple. The important thing to remember is that smartphones are doing much more than they were originally intended for and we use them for pretty much anything and everything.
The most appealing thing about Android devices is that they are open-source, which means you can pretty much code your phone to be just the way you want it. But what about the argument that Android phones are just not safe anymore? Vic Hyder, Silent Circle’s chief strategist says, “It’s mainly economics and timeliness: Android is fighting the stigma of being not secure because there are so many”.
By now you must be wondering what you can do and frantically typing into Google search, “how to secure my Android phone” from possible security threats? There are ways, and just by following these ten tips, you will have a secure Android phone in no time.
10 Tips for a Secure Android Phone
#1. Lock Your Phone
Seriously, it’s not hard and it will literally take a few seconds to type in each time you want to use your phone. You know what is hard? Having your phone stolen by a random pickpocketer on public transport and then making a run for it, going on a wild shopping spree with your credit card details. That pin isn’t looking like such a drag now is it? The fact is, there is a much higher chance of this happening than you being targeted by hackers.
The first step to achieving Android phone security is by jotting down some numbers and locking that screen. Voice-recognition, fingerprint scanning, pattern locks, and iris scans might sound very James Bond, but, in essence, they are a lot easier to break than your regular pin. Look to avoid pins like 1-2-3-4 or names of pets or your birthdate, or even worse your bank pin. Get creative and stay protected.
#2. Avoid Using Public WiFi
In today’s world we have to ability to check our emails, the weather, do some shopping online and even pay our bills using our smartphones. Technology has truly come a long way. We are also simultaneously drinking coffee with friends and doing these things, and multitasking means you can fit more activities into your day and spend more time with loved ones. The problem is that the public WiFi that you connect your phone to isn’t always safe. In fact, around 25% of public hotspots have no encryption whatsoever according to a report released by Kaspersky Security Network.
Think your public WiFi connection is safe? So do most people, but chances are, it’s probably not. If you are traveling and find yourself at the airport or in a hotel, using public transport like buses and trains, or even at tourist attractions, there is a possibility that the security of the public WiFi you are using has been compromised. Hackers are using fake websites and fake hotspots to distribute malware to unsuspecting individuals.
By now you might be thinking, sure, but I don’t access my banking details when I use public WiFi, and that’s great. But there is an array of information that third parties can get from your internet browsing including your location, the websites you visit, your personal chats and emails, your documents, photos and even your logins and passwords to different platforms (including social media).
Your best bet is to just stay away from free public WiFi. Just because it’s free doesn’t mean it’s good. Use your own mobile data and stay safe.
#3. Stick to Apps From the Google Play Store
Some of the worst malware comes from third-party apps, and these can all be found outside the Google Play Store. That is not to say that there have not been instances when people have downloaded apps from Google Play and the malware has crept in, but those cases are far and few in between.
Firstly, these apps have to pass various rules and regulations and secondly, you have Google looking out for you. Google is constantly working on making their Play Store a monitored and safe place for people to download their favorite apps. You can always scan your Android device for malware when you are installing programs as well. Just head over to your Security settings and go to Play Protect. There you can turn on “Scan device for security threats”.
#4. Use Two-Factor Authentication
Did you know that Google has its own two-factor authentication so you can lock down Google services? You can activate this service just by logging into your Google account and heading over to the two-step authentication verification settings. Once there you can select “Using 2-step verification” from the menu. As you follow the prompts it will ask for your number. Your verification codes come in the form of SMS or by voice.
#5. Manage Your App Permissions
One of the best parts of installing your apps from the Google Play Store is that it will tell you exactly which permissions are needed by that particular app before you install it. A lot of the time, apps will have good reasoning as to why they need access to some of your phones features. For example, some games will want access to your friend’s list so that you are able to play against them. On the other hand, there are apps that shouldn’t seek permission for things like your contact list, camera, and location.
If you feel as though an app shouldn’t need to have access to these features, do not install it. It’s better to be safe than sorry. App Permissions on Android Marshmallow will allow you the ability to control exactly what apps can and cannot access.
#6. Don’t Overshare
Some people tend to overshare when it comes to their plans, such as letting everyone know their travel plans. This can, in turn, leave your home wide open for burglars. It’s pretty much an invitation. The same can be said about Android users. Imagine the wealth of information any third party can get hold of when laying their hands on your phone.
We all save passwords and bookmark websites at one point or another, but what is a great timesaver can also be a nightmare for your Android phone security. You are always able to control what data is saved by Chrome, so that it does not get saved within your emails. Your best bet is to open an incognito tab when opening Chrome to make sure your privacy is not being breached.
#7. Use a VPN
This is probably one of the best tips you will read as to how to secure your Android phone from hackers. A Virtual Private Network (VPN) will allow you to mask your IP address by tunneling it through a server to another IP address, which can be found pretty much anywhere in the world. This means you can share data, view emails, even stream your favorite shows from geo-blocked locations anywhere.
Our favorite VPN to use is ExpressVPN. With more than 2,000 servers in over 94 countries, it is simple to see why they are one of the top VPN service providers out there.
Other features that this VPN provides their users with include: 256-bit military-grade encryption, 24-hour customer support, multiple device connections, and unlimited bandwidth. On top of being a super fast VPN (think 179 Mbps), ExpressVPN allow torrenting and can also get around the blocks put up by Netflix. This VPN service will not log any of your sensitive information so questions as to how to secure your Android phone will be a thing of the past.
#8. Enable ‘Find My Device’
Find My Device is a fantastic tool for finding the exact location of your phone or tablet. If you have lost your device or suspect that it has been stolen you can also remotely lock it or even wipe the data that is found on there. This app can be found on the Google Play Store and is free for all Android users. It can also be used whenever you sign into a Google account when accessing a web browser.
As soon as you have the app installed, you will be able to view your approximate location on the dashboard.
There, you will also have four options regarding your phone including:
- Play sound
- Locate your device
- Lock your device (and add a note)
- Erase device
The last option, erase device will permanently delete all of the data stored on your phone. This is handy if you think your phone has fallen into the wrong hands and don’t want people getting ahold of your personal information. We particularly like the lock your device and add note feature, so you can send whoever has your phone a not so friendly message.
#9. Invest in an Antivirus App for your Phone
Although your Android phone already has built-in security, there is a lot more that your antivirus can do for you. Services that some of the best Antivirus’ around have to include the following:
- Protect your passwords
- Locate and destroy malware as well as other threats
- Secure your online banking and shopping
- Build a powerful firewall to keep hackers out
- Keep your inbox free of spam
- Automatically update your software
- Permanently destroy any sensitive data
This will automatically keep your device from slowing down and your smartphone battery from being drained quickly. Additionally, your apps will no longer crash, but the most important feature your Android phone will be able to enjoy with an antivirus is the protection your phone will have from malware. This can result in unexplained data usage as well as random extra charges added onto your phone bill.
Want to know more about some of the best antivirus programs available? Check out our top picks here.
#10. Keep Your Android Device and Apps up-to-date
We always update apps and our devices to the newest possible versions so as to take advantage of all their cool new features. The truth is that these updates have a more important task and that is to keep your Android device secure. These updates include the latest patches and bug fixes.
When purchasing a new model, consider not only aesthetics but also which vendors release Android patches the quickest. You want to pick the model which has the freshest updates to make sure your new phone stays safe. According to a report from the leading Android publication, Android Authority, these are the best vendors for keeping their phones updated: LG, Motorola, HTC, Sony, Xiaomi, OnePlus, and Samsung. They are listed from best to worst.
In addition to this, you should always turn off any connections that you are not using, such as WiFi or Bluetooth. This leaves your phone wide open to those individuals who know what they are doing when it comes to hacking other people’s devices.
The Bottom Line
The evolution of our smartphones has come a long way from the cellular phones that we once used to call or text friends and family. Now, there is virtually nothing you cannot do with these devices, including communicating with people on the other side of the world using video chat, pay for your bills, shop for your favorite shoes, and even book the cheapest flights possible for your next travel adventures. The possibilities are endless.
As such, the possibilities are also wide open to those individuals who are tech-savvy enough to snoop on your every move as you browse the net. It’s not that you have anything to hide, but nobody should be finding out information such as your location, reading your messages, even finding out your social security number and your credit card details.
So, if you’re wondering ‘how to secure my Android phone?’, by following these simple ten steps that we have listed, you can ensure ease of mind when it comes to Android phone security.