Although Android phones are great, one thing is clear – they aren’t the most secure devices on the planet. Just like any other digital device, they are prone to exploits and vulnerabilities that can cause a lot of damage to the user. Recent examples have shown that all responsible users should start taking more care of their online security, and their digital devices. For those reasons, we’ve decided to compile the ultimate online security checklist for Android phones. Here’s what you need to know.
Control Data Collected by Google
All Android devices require a Google account so the user would be able to utilize all the features. While it is known that Google collects all sorts of data from its users, not many people know that they can easily control what Google saves. Users can manage all their activities through Google’s personal activity profile. Here, you can tweak the following settings:
- Location history
- Web & App activity
- YouTube history
- Delete any activity
- Ad personalization
Always Lock Your Phone
Most of today’s devices offer semi-advanced security features, such as biometric scans, facial recognition, pins, or other lock screen types. Always make sure to have at least one of these security measures implemented to ensure that your device is safe at all times. This is especially important if your Android phone gets stolen because the screen lock prevents the thief from accessing the device. You can easily set up a secure screen lock by going to Settings > Security > Screen Lock.
Most Android devices can be encrypted directly through the Settings app. Encryption ensures that you’re the only one who can read and access your phone data. Unless someone has the encryption key, which is likely not going to happen, your Android phone data will be safe. You can enable encryption by going to Settings > Security > Encrypt. If your phone doesn’t have that option for some reason, you can always use a third-party app. However, if you decide to do so, always download the app from reputable sources. We will go a bit more in-depth about this further down in the article.
Always Install Software Updates
Users often skip on installing software updates because they require time to complete. However, what they don’t know is that software updates are necessary to optimize your Android device’s health. These updates contain security patches that were designed to address recent vulnerabilities. As the list of exploits is expanding, consequently, software companies have to keep up at all times to protect their users.
Use a VPN
VPNs are probably among the most effective security solutions for all users, including Android lovers. What makes them great is the fact that they’re multi-use. Using a VPN offers the following benefits:
- Privacy protection
- IP masking
A VPN acts as a shield between the internet and the user. It hides the user’s IP address and assigns a new one, ensuring that no one can track their data. This tool is especially important when connecting to free and open WiFis – those are incredibly vulnerable to hacking exploits.
Disable Sensitive Notifications
If you have some sensitive apps that hold personal information, or use a business phone, you should consider hiding sensitive notifications. Sometimes, these notifications can discover more than we’d like, and a simple glance from a stranger could reveal important information. Luckily, your Android device is very customizable, so you can easily tweak notification settings for each of the apps/services. You can do that by going to Settings > Sound & Notifications, and select how you’d like the notifications to be displayed once the device is locked.
Only Install Software from Reputable Sources
Everyone should have learned this one by now, but we will repeat it again, just in case. You should never, ever download anything from sketchy, unreputable websites. Many hackers and other malicious actors often create websites, where they upload software installations that are laced with malware, ransomware, cryptojacking software, etc. Once downloaded and installed, these apps will inject viruses and other malware onto your device, endangering your privacy and security. Only download apps from legitimate resources, such as official websites or reputable third-party service providers.
Be Careful with Location Sharing
Many apps require your location for different reasons – and most users enable it immediately without thinking twice. However, your location shouldn’t be on blast at all times – that leaves room for a lot of exploitation. You can easily review your location activity on Android devices, though. You can choose what and when to share, and limit which apps can use your phone’s location services. Go to Settings > Personal > Location. Keep in mind, though, that disabling location services for some apps may result in them not working properly.
Use Secure Browsers, Messaging Apps, and Email Clients
Popular web browsers such as Google Chrome collect all sorts of user data and are tracking your activity daily. They collect data on your shopping and browsing habits to provide you with targeted, personalized ads. However, you can easily avoid this by using secure apps and browsers such as DuckDuckGo or Firefox. The same goes for messaging apps and email clients – WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, ProtonMail, etc.