It’s 2018 and there are now more phones in the world than computers. Every day, more of these phones become smartphones
AKA portable computers. Unfortunately, if your phone can browse the web and check email, you will be targeted
by some of the same malicious attacks and scams that go after your PC.
Here are my top 10 ways to keep you and your Android device safe from attackers. Many of these are pretty simple, but security is really more about doing safe things every time than fancy complicated security tricks.
1. Set a screen lock
Setting up a screen lock is the simplest way to protect Android when your phone or tablet falls into the wrong hands. These days you can set a PIN lock, pattern lock, password lock and, if your device supports it, a fingerprint or eye scanner lock. It’s so easy to do you really have no excuse. Head to Settings > Security > Screen lock to get started.
2. Don’t download apps outside Google Play
Seriously. The vast majority of Android malware comes from unreliable third party application sources. Sure, bogus apps make it into the Google Play Store from time to time, like the ones which messaged premium-rate text services, but they're exception, not the rule. Google has also kept working on making the Play Store safer than ever. For example, Google Play Protect can automatically scan your Android device for malware when you install programs. Make sure it's on by going to Settings > Security > Play Protect. For maximum security, click Full scanning and "Scan device for security threats" on.
3. Password Mangement
When it comes to passwords, you have choices: 1) use the same password for everything, which is really dumb.
2) Write down your passwords on paper, which isn't as bad an idea as it sounds so long as you don't put them
on a sticky note on your PC screen; 3) Memorize all your passwords, not terribly practical. Or, 4) use a password
Now Google comes with one built-in, but if you don't want to put all your security eggs in one cloud basket, you can use other mobile password management programs. The best of the bunch are: LastPass, 1Password, and Dashlane.
4. Avoid shopping or banking on a public network
Open Wi-Fi hotspots are incredibly useful when you're out and about and need to get online, but they aren't always
safe. Security company Wandera examined 100,000 corporate mobile phones and found that 24 percent were regularly
using insecure open Wi-Fi networks. It also found that 4 percent of these devices came into contact with a
man-in-the-middle attack in November 2017.
The security company advises that if you must use an open Wi-Fi network, don't pay any bills or make any transactions, use a VPN if possible, install a security app that can detect dodgy websites and insecure hotspots, and disable automatic connection to open Wi-Fi networks. Check out Best Five(5) VPN for Android Devices.
5. Set up user accounts
Since Android Lollipop we’ve been able to set up multiple user accounts on tablets, and more recently on phones. If you are going to be sharing your device with another family member, a colleague or a friend, you can give them access to only the parts of your Android that you are willing to let them see. Set up user accounts in Settings > Users > Add User. Also see: How to set up parental controls on Android.
6. Make it a habit to check each app’s data access on your phone
Some applications may have access to your data or personal information. Be wary of the access that is outside of the scope or purpose of the applications. A game application doesn’t need access to SMS (read, write and send), calling, phonebook entries and system files. If game wants all the access, get a little suspicious. If you have any doubt about an application, do not install it.
7 Encrypt Phone
Those wanting to secure their Android device will more than likely have spotted the encryption option in Settings
> Security > Encryption. This scrambles all the data on the phone - apps, media and more - until you put in
the decryption password, which you will need to do every time you turn it on.
Encrypting and decrypting your data takes time, and for the majority of people it’s an unnecessary step that will simply slow things down. However, if your device contains extra-secure information, it’s a possibility you might like to consider.
8. Uninstall unused apps
Every application comes with its own security problems. Most Android software vendors do a good job of updating their programs. Most of them. If you're not using an application, get rid of it. The fewer program doors you have into your smartphone, the fewer chances an attacker has to invade it.
9. Watch where you click and land
The mobile threats you’re most likely to face are scams and phishing attacks that will attempt to steal credit card information. Social engineering methods would be used to lure you into clicking on malicious links. Always check to see if a website starts with “https” before you enter sensitive information.
10. Back up Android
It’s not just the fact that our data might get into the wrong hands when our device is lost or stolen that it
worrying - it’s also the fact it will no longer be in our hands. Backing up Android is essential, and in doing
so you can tie everything to your Google account rather than a piece of hardware that could break at any point.
Backing up Android also means things such as your photos and videos are accessible through any web browser signed into your Google account, and that next time you buy a new phone you won’t have to manually download and install all your favourite apps. Learn more about how to back up Android Here.