Android is Huge, it’s everywhere & almost one person in every family has an Android-based device in their hands. Remember the last time I had mentioned about my phone getting lost while I was travelling in China for a smartphone launch & how you could find your phone or maybe how you could ensure that all your data can be recovered. In this article, we are going to talk about a few Android security tips. Android is secure when compared with the Windows OS, which is the desktop OS that has been hacked a lot of times and is vulnerable to many other issues, but Android is very much secure on the lines of iOS from Apple. Android security modules and systems processes ensure that all your data on your phone is secure and not shared with anyone else but still there are chances that the same could get into the wrong hands with bad practices.
Your phone gets some Software updates regularly or say once in a few months & these are very Important to install because they may contain not just some bug fixes but also would ensure it would patch the recent exploits for the device.
Secure Lock Screen
For someone to access your smartphone, they need to have access to your phone’s password, pin, pattern or any other security lock you have set up, and this is the only way they can easily access your smartphone data. To ensure that someone cannot access any of your private information, you need to ensure that you have a very safe password setup on your phone. The simple ones that most of the users would use are adding their birth year or just 12345 or 0000, that can be easily bypassed or accessed through a few tries. There are certain apps that can help you in securing your local screen with additional security measures or if you wish to opt for the stock options, take a look at the security section of your phone.
These days there has been a spike in the Fingerprint Scanner based Smartphones & they are here for a reason. First is the security while the second is the convenience they offer you. By just placing your finger onto these sensors you can unlock your device or even make payments through the Android Pay services. If you are planning to upgrade your phone, it’s recommended to check out one with these scanners or check out the following Android apps that are unique & offer an additional level of security.
- Smart Phone Lock: One of the Top Rated Android app that offers you with a PIN that changes every minute. The logic is simple, it would change the PIN based on the current time, that is easy to remember & also hard for someone who is looking into your screen. You can set modifiers like adding a number or subtracting from the current time that you can only know because keeping the current TIME as PIN is not secure. Most of the security apps can be bypassed by uninstalling them, but this app has Uninstall protection enabled, that would ensure only you have the rights to perform this task.
- Face Lock: This is a free app that locks not your Phone but a few applications like the market, task manager, settings and one app that could be WhatsApp, Facebook or your Photo Gallery. It is, not something that would completely lock your phone but still does the job efficiently.
You can also take a list of the Top 5 Best Lock Screen Apps for Android Smartphones.
Download Apps from Play Store
We have seen users spending as much as $800 or more on buying the Premium Phones like the Galaxy Note 5, LG G Flex 2, Motorola Droid Turbo 2 & following which asking their friends for an APK. Obviously this is an illegal way of sourcing a paid application or a game & something that’s not recommended because you are taking away a pie from a hard working developer who has worked hard to offer you something useful. Ignoring this ignorance, they also do not realise that this act will lead them to download a modified APK package that could install harmful files, could be stuffed with Malware, Trojans or Keyloggers that could take away their private information.
There’s certainly a way to stop quickly this. Just head over to the Settings > Security > Uncheck or Disable > Unknown sources (Allow installation of non-official apps). This would not allow you to install any applications that have been transferred to the phone & tried to install.
Use Chrome Browser
Earlier there were two browsers that came Pre-Installed on the Android devices but post Lollipop we see the Chrome Browser that’s available to you. If you take a look at the Play Store you can find many different browsers, few of that promise better speeds, data savings, security, etc. but a simple recommendation would be to ignore all of them. My rule is Simple, avoid any alternative to what’s out of the box unless it is very Important to do. The Chrome browser is efficient though it does hit a lot on your battery consumption, it’s one of the best browsers available that allows you to switch between tabs, sync data from other devices & also the bookmarks.
The third party browsers come with their ways of monetization while you may end up signing up for services you never intended to, or you may log in to your favourite services while sharing the credentials unknowingly.
Disable or Block Bloatware Apps
Unlike the iPhone, you can find many Android devices that are under priced and sold at a very competitive pricing & one of the primary reason for this is the Bloatware Applications. These are those apps that come pre-installed on the devices out of the box paid by the respective brands that help the phone brands to under price their phones. Not all these apps are bad because sometimes they tend to be useful to a small set of users but eventually it’s still a forced application that’s on your phone without your permission. Talking about the negatives around these apps, they may post a risk to you because you have no idea on what permissions they apps have nor what access do they have on your devices.
If you take a look on the apps that come with Samsung devices they are mostly their suite of applications, that cannot be uninstalled, but if you still wish to remove them, you need to root your phone. Another option is going to the Settings > Applications & selecting all the apps that were pre-installed on your Phone & disabling, stopping them. This will ensure that those apps won’t be able to run by themselves unless you enable them again.
Use Two-Factor Authentication
Passwords are a passe, Two-Factors are in. Starting from email accounts, social networking sites to eCommerce sites all of them now support this type of authentication that helps you in ensuring you are 100% safe. This technology was patented in 1984 while it’s made available in the last few years or say 30 years after it was first patented. It’s a technology where two different components combination has to be entered to give access to something like access to Bank Account, Email Account or anything that’s secure. Most of the widely used two-factor authentications include a mobile phone where you need to first login with your regular password following which you get a secure numerical code on your Mobile Phone. You have to submit this code in real time or within a mentioned time frame (generally 15 minutes) to access the account, or the code becomes invalid.
These are dynamically generated passcode that are changing over time, hence hard for someone to get access to along with which if someone tries to login with wrong codes the account gets locked for a limited period. There are other Multi-Factor authentications though it’s recommended that you set this up for all your Important accounts on your phone to ensure no one can easily login to your accounts even if they have the basic passwords to the same.
Never Save Passwords
Remembering passwords is hard, especially when you access dozens of different sites & that is when you find the option of Saving Passwords very easy & useful. The next time you do this, it is important to remember that doing this is totally not safe & something you should avoid doing. This is the very reason we have Password Management applications that help you to store securely the passwords in their vault not easy to break through. Whenever you try to login to any website on the Phone’s browser you would be asked to save the password for convenience but it’s recommended to click or tap on the option of “Never Remember this Password”.
Giving access to the online services & sites passwords is like offering them all your important data that is available for any unknown plugin or adware to pick up and use. Your browser may be already having hit by some unknown malware or keylogger & hence its safe never to save any of your Passwords onto the same.
Set App Permissions
Whenever you install a new application fro the Play Store, you would be shown with a list of areas where the app needs access. This is the section that almost 99.99% of the users just ignore & click on “Accept” & proceed with the installation. This is not a safe practice because unknowingly you give away access to all your Contacts, Photos, Media & few other areas that you didn’t want to offer. Next time you hit the Play Store to download an application, you need to download it from a known developer or go with the recommendations Google makes rather than downloading any random app.
This helps in ensuring that you are safeguarded against offering access to everything. Also with the Android 6.0 Marshmallow update you will be able to manage the permissions on the app level, that’s very good. If you feel suspicious about any app, you need to remove the same from your phone or update the phone to Marshmallow version.
Avoid unsecured Wi-Fi Networks
Mobile Phone & staying connected go hand in hand, but there are moments like you are travelling & you need an Active Internet Connection to stay connected. This is when the Free Wi-Fi hotspots come handy, or you end up using someone shared hotspot network. If the situation needs you to connect to these network’s it’s recommended just to access the websites through browsers and not log in to any website because there are chances that this information may get hacked or shared with others. While travelling if you need to stay connected just access services like WhatsApp that do not need you to login or that do not have any important data. Try to avoid accessing your bank account or any service where you need to login to a website or a web service.
In fact, if you wish you can go to the Network Settings > Wi-Fi > Advanced > Network Notification (Notify me when an open network is available) > Disable this option to ensure you do not automatically connect to any unknown open Internet connection in the nearby range.
Avoid Short Links / Unknown Links
Browsing on the Internet, accessing your email or checking out your Social Media accounts, you always encounter different links that you would be interested in checking, but beware these may be fictitious, fake or dangerous links. There are many hackers who create duplicate pages & send phishing emails randomly to users who end up clicking on them & try to login to those websites. When you try to login to a fake Paypal website, you are giving away your ID & password directly to these hackers who can instantly access your account later & transfer the money to the account. The same would also be possible where you could end up giving access to others on your phone who can remotely take control or do many other similar activities. We recommend you never to click on any links that you see on your Phone, unless you are sure about the sender of the email or if you are sure that the website URL you are accessing is 100% legit.
Scan for Malware & Virus
There are many applications available in the Play Store that offer you with features like scanning & deleting threads on the phone. Along with this they also clean the device by removing the cache, thrash and also all the clutter which you do not need. Search for “Antivirus” on the store and you will be welcomed with many apps that can identify & remove malware, virus & gives you anti-phishing protection all for free though if upgraded to pro you get many other useful features. Do make a note that using these apps will slow down your phone because it would continuously monitor all the files & changes but if you have a flagship device, it should not be a problem at all.
These are few of the ways you can ensure that your personal information on your Phone is secured & no one can access it easily. If you think we have missed something you can tweet it to us @PhoneRadarBlog.