If you own an Android Device, you are well looked after by Google’s Android device security measures. Google protects Android ecosystem and its users. It provides a complete set of endpoint security services both cloud based and on-device, automatically as a part of Google Mobile Services (GMS). In year 2015 these services protected more than 1 billion devices. These numbers make Google one of the largest providers of on-device security.
Google is doing all it can and more. But-you can never be “too secure”. There is no such thing. There are a few measures Android device owners can take at their end to protect their devices. Let’s discuss them.
#Set up a screen lock
You should secure your Android phone or tablet with a screen lock by using a pattern, PIN or a password. Each time you want to wake up the screen, you would need to unlock the phone. Strangers wouldn’t be able to pry on your phone.
#Contact info on lock screen
You can add your contact information – an email address or your phone number on the lock screen. This is a useful feature. It can get your phone back to you if you lose it. You can set this up in Settings > Security > Owner info
#Back-up your data
You should back-up the data you have on phone. You can back up and store all your photos, Wi-Fi passwords, videos, music etc., so that in case you lose your data on your device, you can get it back. Use Android Backup services. Enable Auto Backup on your device. All your data and settings can be backed up with Android Backup services.
To enable Android Backup Service, open device’s “Setting”. Under “Personal”, tap on “Backup and reset”. Then tap on “Backup my data” and switch it on.
#Switch Off Your Bluetooth When Outside
Bluetooth provides a way to connect and exchange information between devices. To be extra safe, when outside with your device, if you do not need your Bluetooth and WI-FI, keep it switched off. If you need it, make sure your phone is not discoverable. Set your default Bluetooth configuration to “non-discoverable”. New devices usually thwart Bluejacking attempts. Bluejacking entails sending unsolicited messages through jacked Bluetooth. Bluetooth can be hacked to gather private info and SIM card info for cellular access.
#Switch Android Device Manager on
If you set up Android Device Manager, it can help you find your device if it gets lost. Android Device Manager can show you where your lost phone is by showing you its exact location. You can use Android Device Manager to ring or lock your device remotely. You can erase the content of your phone remotely too.
To use Android Device Manager you need to sign into your Google Account on your device. Then you need to go to “Google Settings”. In the main Setting app scroll down and find and tap on “Google”. Tap “Security”. Find “Android Device Manager” and switch to “Remotely locate this device”. Put the option “Allow remote lock and erase” on. Android Device manager needs to access the location of the device. If there is no location access, go to device’s setting, scroll down and tap “Location” and tap the switch on.
#Encrypt The Data On Your Device
It is the safest way. Encrypting your data keeps it safe. When you encrypt your data, it changes form. Your encrypted data can only be accessed with right credentials. Your data remains safe even if the device gets stolen.
Nexus 6 and Nexus 9 devices come with encryption by default. If you have an Android device which is running on Jelly Bean (Android 4.1) or higher, you should encrypt the data on your device manually. You can do that by going to “Setting”. From there tap “Security” and then “Encrypt Phone”.
#Erase Data Before Selling Device
If you are selling your Android phone to someone else, erase the data. You should preferably encrypt all the data. Data from your Nexus phones can be removed by doing a factory reset. This process formats the device.
#Log Out Of Sites After Making Payments
After you make payments on sites, you must ensure that you log out of them properly. This simple step will save you a lot of heartache. You will keep your device safe from intruders who are looking for a way in.
#Avoid Connecting to Public WI-FI Hotspots
Free Wi-Fi is tempting but use your discretion when using it. The hotspot you connect to could be malicious and by connecting you could be endangering your device and your data. You should avoid doing your online banking or any other sensitive activity on a public Wi-Fi network.
#Avoid The Evil Twin
Evil Twin attacks haven’t yet got the notoriety they deserve. They are the evil twins of the benign and friendly free Wi-Fi hotspots. They look very much like legitimate hotspot from a large company but they are the evil twins. They send requests for different passwords, login details and other information which they use to access the devices later. You should be on guard and should not provide any requests for information that seem illegitimate, should be ignored and avoided.
#Set-up a VPN
If you want to be safe when using your device in a corporate environment consider the use of a VPN- Virtual Private Network and set-up a secure private network. You can use different sites and reduce the risk of being intercepted by harmful elements.
#Download Apps Only From Google Play
Apps available on Google Play are safe. They pass stringent policy checks, including checks for potentially harmful behaviour. Your Android device has a “Verify Apps” feature on it and it is turned on by default and gives a warning if you are about to install a harmful app. It checks your device once a week for harmful apps. Avoid downloading apps from places and sites you do not trust. If the app asks you for sensitive information after you install it, get rid of it as soon as possible.
#Be Aware of Malicious Ads
Do not click on everything that pops up on your screen. There could be banners screaming that your device is infected and is going to crash unless you click on the banner. Ignore them. They aim at compromising the Android mobile security measures. If the ads ask you for personal information and your passwords, a red flag should go up in your mind. Uninstall any such application which shows you such ads. Check if you have accidentally installed something which you shouldn’t have.
#Two-step verification for your Google Account
This Google feature keeps your Google account safe. It requires a two-step verification. Once you log-in with your password, you would be required to key-in another code which is sent to you by Google through SMS, to get access to your Google account. In case someone has access to your password he will still not be able to access the account unless the second step verification is completed.
#Keep Your Phone Updated
Always keep your operating system updated. Ensure that the released security patches are installed on your phone. It is always best to have the device the operating system of which is supported. There are many Android phones which do not receive customized OS and firmware upgrade.
#When Browsing, Use Chrome
Chrome has been designed for Android device. It ensures the safety of your devices. If you want to install a browser on your device you should go for Chrome. Chrome is optimized for small screen and is fast.
#Don’t Root Your Phone
Phone manufacturers and mobile network operators put several software limitations. When you root your Android phone the limitations get overruled. Security restrictions put in place by Android operating system are circumvented and malware can breach the security easily. Rooting is not advisable. A rooted phone is unstable and vulnerable. Rooting your phone gives you root access to the Android operating system code. You can then modify software codes which if not handled properly, can irreparably damage your device.
#Google Play Protect
Google Play protects your device. It runs a safety check on apps before you download them. It constantly checks your device for potentially harmful apps and malware. It provides you reports on the apps you have on your device. If any malicious app is found it notifies you and removes it from your device. You can read more about in this Google blogpost.
These are some of the Android device security measures you can take to keep your Android devices safe. As world’s most popular platform Google takes its responsibilities seriously and puts out updates and security patches routinely. Ensure that you have right device and right network to get the best Android experience.