Your new Android is everything you’ve ever wanted in a phone – it’s cool, convenient, and oh-so-smart. From the way you’re using it all the time, everywhere you are, and for everything you need, someone would think you trust it with your life.
The question is, can you really?
An Android smartphone is a brilliant tool for everything from taking selfies to paying taxes, but can you be sure to be protected from malicious cyber attacks? Luckily, the answer is yes. However, we must warn you that your phone can’t do it without your help.
Here are the best ways to protect your new Android.
- Get Familiar With Your Android’s Security Settings
Most of your phone’s security features are enabled by default, which means that you may not be aware of everything Android can do to keep the contents of your phone hidden from prying eyes. Some of these settings can be fine-tuned for additional security.
Next time you catch yourself killing time by scrolling your Facebook feed, do some snooping around and check the following features instead:
- Smart Lock
- Device Protection
- Find My Device
- Verify Apps
- Full-Disk Encryption
In case any of them is disabled, turn it on. Smart Lock and Device Protection are basic capabilities that no internet-connected phone could do without, while Find My Device feature comes in handy when your phone gets lost or stolen.
As for the other two – Verify Apps and Full-Disk Encryption – consider them as additional layers of protection that may mean the difference between safe smartphone use and a security breach. The first one safeguards your apps, while the second hides your data.
- Keep Your Phone Locked and Password-Protected
PIN code, password, or two-factor authentication?
Why choose when you can use all three and triple your security fences?
Remember, passwords are only as safe as they are unique, so never use your pet’s name, date of birth, the title of your favorite book, or similar clues that can be easily guessed. If you have problems remembering nonsensical passwords, use a password manager app.
Also, keep your passwords at least 10 characters long and use a combination of letters, numbers, and other characters. Never use the same password for multiple accounts. And just to stay on the safe side, change your passwords every second month or so.
- Download and Use Apps Only from Trusted Sources
Although your Android’s Verify Apps feature will scan every application on your phone and alert you as soon as it discovers anything suspicious, there’s no reason for you to download apps from any source other than Google’s own Play Store.
Speaking of the apps you need and the apps you don’t, be sure to install a reliable firewall and antivirus. The rules that apply to your PC operating system should be followed here as well – use trusted apps only and always keep them up-to-date.
What you need to understand about mobile apps is that every one of them comes with its own security issues. Keep only the ones you actually use and uninstall all those you don’t. In case you like having a variety of options, consider using a third-party app for encryption.
- Use a Mobile VPN When Connecting Through WiFi and Bluetooth
Public WiFi networks and Bluetooth are like backdoors for cybercriminals to crawl through when they want to access your phone. No matter how well protected your device is, it will still be vulnerable to attacks if you don’t limit its connectivity options.
And if you must use the internet all the time, consider getting a mobile VPN (get it here).
Unlike public Wi-Fi networks (or any other networks, for that matter), a virtual private network hides your native IP address with a virtual one from a different location. No one and that includes your ISP and the government, will be able to track your online activity or access your data.
- Conduct DIY Privacy Audits Every Second Month
Google’s online Security Checkup tool can help you with this.
DIY audits are of crucial importance for the overall health of your operating system, as they offer additional insight into how protected your phone actually is. Set up your calendar app to remind you to conduct them regularly, every other month or so. Regardless of whether you’re still using your old Android phone or are a proud owner of a shiny new one, security should still be your number one concern. Follow these rules for protecting your device, but stay informed on the latest threats as well.