How to Improve the Security of Your Android Device
Android devices are one of the most common pieces of smart technology around. With so much power in our pocket, our phones and tablets have become a regular and indispensable part of our day-to-day routines.
As our reliance on such technologies increases, the disaster it would cause if they suffered a cyberattack also goes up. Because of this, the need for security and proper protection has become more important than ever. Fortunately, there are a few simple steps you can take that will help to ensure the safety of your device and protect you and your personal data from malicious attack.
Passwords are like the old faithful of digital security. No matter how much it frustrates us to have to remember our login details for everything we access, it’s an essential part of keeping our devices and information secure.
Android allows two layers of locking for extra security: on entry and on the apps themselves. All systems from Jelly Bean upward have screen lock and encryption settings available. These built-in features are a great first stop for device security.
The screen lock allows for a pattern, pin or password setting so you can customize is to your own preferences, but be sure to avoid common combinations such as your birth-date or “1234.” The app level password feature can be acquired through one of the many free apps for this purpose, such as AppLock. While you don’t necessarily have to undertake the time-consuming task of locking every app on your device, this is highly useful—and recommendable—for those which store a large amount of sensitive data, such as banking apps.
Secure Your Connection
One of the most notable points of vulnerability that is often overlooked when using an Android device—or a portable device of any type, for that matter—is the connection to public WiFi. When out and about and on-the-go, it’s very common for users to switch to public networks to access the internet to save on data allowance. Unfortunately these networks are highly insecure as they allow your data to fly around unprotected and visible to all prying eyes.
The best way to overcome this is to download a Virtual Private Network (VPN) package. Using a VPN means that your device connects to the VPN server before accessing the public WiFi network, and this initial connection mimics that of a private network. This means that your data is encrypted and your IP address is hidden so you can access the network securely and anonymously.
Another step you can take to help prevent nasty surprises from public WiFi is to disable the auto connect feature, which switches you from data usages to WiFi whenever there is a network in range.
Protect Against Malware
Just as you would on your computer, installing anti-virus software onto your portable Android devices is an essential step to protect yourself from malware. Whether this comes from corrupted apps or outside infiltrations, contracting a virus is definitely a disaster for you and your data. There are many good anti-virus apps available for a variety of prices, but even though the free ones may seem like the best option, there are many factors to consider before choosing the one that’s right for you.
Alongside the success of their anti-malware protection, it’s also recommended that you consider the user-interface, set up and any additional features. Tomsguide.com has produced an in-depth look at some of the big names in anti-virus software using data from an AV-test, which looks at ability to detect zero-day malware and other recent threats, to determine the proficiency of each product they reviewed.
Know Your Apps
One of the greatest benefits of Androids is the plethora of apps that are available due to its open source nature. Unfortunately, one major drawback of this is that there isn’t a stringent vetting process for app developers and creators. This means that apps can be released with pre-developed security holes and malware.
The best way to get around this is to only use apps you trust. First, stick to well-known and respected app developers when choosing which to download. Similarly, it’s always sensible to check out the app permissions whenever installing something new. This pops up when you first download the app and lists everything that it will be allowed to access in your phone. Consider what the app will be used for and what it actually needs to access, and if you feel that the permissions don’t match that, then it’s wise to find an alternative.
This is soimportant and regularly overlooked. We all like to assume that our security is so tight that an infiltration will never occur; however, even if it is, it’s always sensible to prepare for the worst case scenario. Backing up you data will be a lifesaver if you ever experience an attack or contract malware and have your phone wiped in the process. It also means that you can activate remote-wiping, so if your phone is ever physically stolen, you can remove all your data so it can’t fall into the wrong hands.
Backing up can be done internally from your Android device. Simply, head to your backup settings and ensure the feature is turned on; this protects your app-data, bookmarks and WiFi passwords. Similarly, the Account & Sync settings allow you to backup contacts, calendar, spreadsheets, music and more to the Google servers via you Gmail account. You can also back up photos and pictures into your Drive via Google photos. This can be set up to be done automatically if you have to Google Photos app. There are also some apps that can ensure a full phone back up, so it’s good to do some research.
These are just a few tips to help you on your way to protect you, your phone and your personal data from hackers, corruption and malware. If there’s anything else that you think should be added to the list, then be sure to leave a comment below.