Most of us store a lot of valuable information on our phones including financial data, contacts, family photos and calendar appointments among many other important things. Therefore, it is important for phone owners to pay more attention to their phone security to keep the device and the data safe from threats. In this article, we will look at major security threats and tips for improving the security of Android smartphones.
Related: How to secure Windows PC?
Major Threats to Android Phone Security
- Unprotected/ Untrusted Wi-Fi – vulnerable public Wi-Fi networks can expose your phone data to serious vulnerabilities, leading to identity theft and cyber-attacks.
- Malware – harmful programs that can steal personal details, subscribe to premium services automatically, launch cryptographic attacks or hijack your files.
- Spyware – monitors your activities on your phones including your location, texts and calls.
Effective Ways of Improving Security of Android Devices
Prevention is better than cure – therefore follow the below steps and protect your phone before someone hacks and steal confidential information.
1. Secure your Phone with Screen Lock
One of the most basic ways to secure your device is using Screen Lock Feature. Android phones enable users to lock the screen with a pin, pattern, password or fingerprints/face unlock. While face and fingerprint seem to be fun and stylish, the methods may not be the most secure. Basic pin or pattern unlock can be safe but an alphanumeric password is always a better option.
- Navigate through the device settings, Security settings to Device security and tap “Screen lock.”
- Choose “password” on the resulting screen and follow the screen instruction to set a password.
- It is also advisable to disable “Make password visible” available on the security settings page under the “Passwords” section. Tap the switch to turn off so that snoopers cannot record your password as you unlock the device.
2. Use Smart Lock
Smart Lock feature keeps your device unlocked when it is safe with you. You can keep your phone unlocked when holding it when you visit a trusted place and so on.
- To set up Smart Lock, go to the phones security settings and select the option.
- Pick a smart lock method and follow the instruction to complete the setting.
3. On-Device Encryption
If your phone encryption is not enabled by default, press “Encrypt Phone” on the security settings and encrypt your device. Moreover, you can encrypt your phones external storage like the micro SD card.
4. SIM Card Lock
SIM Card Lock option allows you to set a pin to unlock your SIM card before the phone can start.
- To configure the settings, tap “Set up SIM card lock” and lock your SIM card(s) with a secret PIN.
5. Secure Android Phones with Remote Tracking and Wiping
Remote tracking and wiping is a way of safeguarding your lost or stolen device. The security feature allows you to track your phone and erase all the data stored on your phone remotely to prevent private data leakage.
- Scroll down the security device security settings to find the “Device administration” category.
- Tap “Device administrators” and tick the “Find My Device” checkbox.
6. Disable “Unknown sources” Feature
You should block the installation of apps from unknown/untrusted sources.
- Go to security settings and look for the “Unknown Sources” option, tap the switch to disable the feature.
- It is also a good practice to avoid cracked or modified apps.
7. Install Mobile Security/ Anti-virus Apps
Mobile phones have become an easy target for virus and malware developers. To keep your device safe, it is important to install a mobile security app on your phone. You can find a variety of mobile security apps from big brands such as McAfee, Kaspersky, Norton and Avast to name but a few.
Depending on whether you opt for the paid or the free version, these apps offer basic to advanced security features like malware detection, automatic virus scan, call & text blocking and privacy scanning among others.
8. Keep Your Android System and Apps Up-to-Date
Another important yet mostly ignored step toward securing your device is to update the phones Android OS and apps. Android and apps developers release regular updates to fix security bugs and improve the functionality of the product. Installing the update could seal an identified security loophole.
- To update the Android system, scroll down to the bottom of the device settings.
- Tap the last option, “About phone” under the system section.
- Select “System Updates” to open the Updater and tap the “Check for Updates” link at the bottom of the page.
- If there are any available updates, follow the Simple instructions to install.
- For the apps, open the Google play store and go to “My apps and games” updates tab. You will see a list of all apps with available updates.
- Click the “Update” button to download and install the updates.
The above steps help you to optimize the security of your Android phone. However, you need to audit your device security regularly. You can use the Google Play Protect, a service that scans your device to detect and notifies you of any security risks. It is also advisable to review your device app permissions after installing updates.