Cybercrime statistics are grim and getting worse. Yes, it CAN happen to you! Android powers 70% of phones worldwide; according to a recent University of Cambridge research paper, 87 percent are critically vulnerable.
Fortunately, there are a few very powerful, common-sense, everyday ways to make your Android more resilient against cyber threats and casual tampering.
We’ll first look at important general options, which you should implement across all your devices, and then we’ll look at a few super but little-known Android phone settings that can make all the difference to your phone’s safety.
The two basic security rules that protect all your devices
The constant erosion of our privacy is the cause of many of our cybersecurity problems. A VPN has become essential for your phone and all your other devices. A stunning proportion of identity theft, online fraud, and massive data breaches are directly attributed to people using the internet without privacy protection.
Protect your privacy with a VPN
It is essential to keep your login credentials, internet searches, and browsing history private. Never connect to public or free Wi-Fi services without a reputable
- not a scammy! VPN. That includes your friends’ home networks, school or work networks, and even mobile data connections. You never know who is watching!
A USA VPN will ensure you don’t accidentally run into geolocation fencing at school or work.
Use Two-Factor Authentication
Open up your chat histories, email, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and dating apps to the whole world by re-using and sharing your passwords.
We’re kidding! Prevent snoopers and criminals from putting their clammy paws on your stuff by implementing 2FA. The minor inconvenience of an extra security step that comes with using 2FA is well worth the peace of mind.
It makes no difference which device you use. Download a reputable authenticator, use your phone’s own “Security Key,” or even better, get a standalone hardware key to control sign-ins into your mail and other accounts.
These two rules could make the most significant difference to your internet security, and they are pretty easy to install. But next up, we’ll look at a few Android-specific rules and settings to keep your Android phone data safe from hackers and snoopers.
Five Little-known Additional Android Safety Tips
Here are a few not-so-well-known Android settings to preserve your privacy and strengthen your security simultaneously.
Be very careful in the Google Play store
Malicious Android apps steal your data and financial information. Even worse: They can provide a speedway for criminals to take over your home network or company database. Google does not scrutinize every app in the Play store.
Researchers regularly discover new batches of malicious Android apps in the Google Play Store.
Apps pose as free antivirus or VPNs, image-editing tools, system optimizers, QR scanners, and more. Instead, they subscribe users to premium services, steal login credentials and social media accounts, and drive you nuts with intrusive ads.
Watch those App permissions
The newer Android versions (finally!) include new app permission options. It’s a very important privacy-first development for users, as you can now choose for apps to access your location only when they’re actively in use instead of all the time or allow access on a limited basis.
However, any apps already on your phone before these upgrades arrived would still have full, unrestricted access to everything on your phone. That’s why you should re-evaluate the settings of each app regularly.
Go to Settings >> Privacy >> Permission manager. Work your way down the list of location, camera, and microphone permissions. Alternatively, go to “Apps” and work your way down the list of apps. You can adjust the level of access for each app or remove permission entirely.
Review Lock screen info
Android’s default notification setting displays everything even after your screen has locked down and also makes all app shortcuts available on a locked device. This can allow someone else to, e.g., change the network connection or change other settings. They may not have full access, but it’s a pretty bad idea to leave sensitive stuff out there for the world to see.
Restrict notifications as follows:
Settings >> Privacy >> Notifications on lock screen . You can choose between “Show all notification content” and “Show sensitive content only when unlocked” or “Don’t show notifications at all.”
Prevent casual changes to your settings like this:
Settings >> Display >> Lock screen. Toggle “Show device controls” to “Off”.
When the Boss (or mom!) wants to see your phone: Use App pinning
If you need to hand your phone around for friends, the boss, mom, or your significant other to check out something on your phone, you should use app pinning to lock the phone to a single app. If anyone accidentally -or intentionally-strays from the app, it will ask for authentication before they can access anything else.
First, you’ll need to activate app pinning in Settings >> Security >> “app pinning,” “pin windows,” or “screen pinning.” This could be under “Advanced” or “Other” settings. Toggle the feature to “On” and also activate “Ask for unlock pattern before unpinning.”
The next time you need to hand your phone over, just quickly open up the system overview interface. Look for the app you want to pin in the overview area. Tap the card to display the “Pin” option.
Enable the “Find My Device” setting
Losing your phone feels like a punch in the gut. It should be a relief that Android has its own built-in app for finding, locking, or erasing a device from afar. Check that it is activated:
Settings >> Security >> Find my Device
Confirm the setting by going to android.com/find (any browser) or doing a Google search for “find my device.” Sign into your Google account. You should be able to see your phone’s last known location and lock it down or erase it.
A final safety tip: Don’t forget about phishing
You can install and maintain all the Android safety checks you want, but email is still one of the primary ways that hackers get access to your phone.
Check before you click! Your phone knows more about you than anyone – don’t allow cybercriminals to exploit that. Keep your device updated. Use a reputable antivirus and VPN with advanced threat detection (not a dodgy, “free” one from Google Play). We need all the help we can get out there!
Latest Geeky Gadgets Deals
Disclosure: Some of our articles include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, Geeky Gadgets may earn an affiliate commission. Learn about our Disclosure Policy.