Smartphone use has skyrocketed over the last decade. Today, more than half of the world’s adult population own one, most of which run on Google’s Android OS. When you consider the convenience smartphones deliver, their popularity isn’t too surprising. But just like laptops and desktop computers, smartphones can be attacked by hackers or infiltrated by malware.
Whereas companies go to great lengths to protect their digital assets with robust enterprise access management solutions, individuals don’t commit equivalent effort in protecting their smartphones. Yet, some of your most confidential personal data is stored on or accessible to your phone.
Keeping your Android phone secure is therefore vital in maintaining your privacy and protecting sensitive personal information. Here’s how to do that.
1. Lock Your Phone
This is a fairly simple and straightforward security control but too many people still use phones that aren’t secured by a pin, pattern or biometric lock. You are more likely to lose your data to a phone thief than you would to a hacker or malware breaking through your phone’s security defenses.Part of the reason some users don’t lock their phones is not to arouse suspicion from their romantic partner. But if that is the rationale, all one needs to do is share the unlock pattern or pin code with their partner.
2. Two-Factor Authentication
Of all the accounts you’ve signed into on your phone, your Google account is by far the most important. Nearly every app you download will allow you to register using your Google account.
To make it that much harder for someone to access your Google account without your permission, enable two-factor authentication. When you allow two-factor access control, you’ll receive a verification code via SMS or voice each time you want to sign into Google services.
3. Only Download Apps from Google Play Store
As Android has become by far the most popular smartphone OS, numerous websites have popped up that allow one to download app installation files from them directly as opposed to doing so from Google Play Store. These third-party services are the number one source of Android smartphone malware.The installation files from these external sources are not subject to the rigorous scrutiny of the Google Play Protect service and can therefore be a cover for malware. Only download apps from the Google Play Store.
4. Encrypt Your Device
A screen lock is a great way to protect your phone but it’s not foolproof. A more secure method is to encrypt your device. Encrypting an Android phone is a fairly straightforward process. All you need to do is go to Settings > Security > Encrypt Device then follow the prompts.Encryption ensures that even if someone does go past all your other defenses and eventually gets to your data, the information will be in a form that’s undecipherable for them.
5. Remote Lock and Data Wipe
This isn’t a service available on all phones but is certainly something you should enable if there’s an option for it. If your phone is lost, this service can not only tell you where the device is but also allows you to lock the phone and delete the data remotely.
The main constraint is that the phone needs to have an Internet connection for your lost phone report to initiate the lock and delete process. Before then, the thief has the opportunity to access your data and apps if the phone isn’t encrypted and/or doesn’t have a screen lock.
6. Use a VPN
Free public WiFi has become a near-ubiquitous perk that businesses, academic institutions, airports, rail stations and a whole range of organizations offer visitors to their premises. But as with anything free, you have to tread cautiously.
Public WiFi can be insecure since its open to all and sundry. In addition, public WiFi can be easily spoofed by someone who sets up a hotspot within the same location that has a strikingly similar name and identical login credentials.
Never use public WiFi unless you do so via a virtual private network (VPN). VPN encrypts data packets to and from your device so they are unreadable to anyone who successfully intercepts them.
Following these tips doesn’t guarantee your Android phone’s security but it will certainly reduce the likelihood of your data falling into the wrong hands.