The number of mobile phone users around the world is projected to exceed the five billion mark by 2019. This rapid increase, unfortunately, sees cybercriminals adapting and changing their methods to profit from this growing number of potential victims.
Android security should not be taken for granted. People who use Android devices face a wide range of security threats ranging from data loss, identity theft, hacked accounts, compromised financial information and even theft of your Android devices. Being the most widely used smartphone platform globally, it is a tempting target for malicious actors and all user’s should follow at least the basic Android security practices.
Configuring the Android Security Features
We will move from the basic security settings to more advanced settings as we progress through the article.
1) Set up a Screen Lock
This is the base level of android security that you can set up to prevent physical access to your device. You have the following options to choose from.
- None – No lock on the device.
- Swipe – Again, no lock. You just need to swipe to go to the home screen.
- Pattern – Set up a pattern lock on the device. You will have to draw the pattern twice while setting it up. You should be aware that very simple patterns can just be figured out by looking at the smudges on the screen. A few overlapping nodes might make it difficult to recognize the start and end nodes and make your pattern harder to break. You can sidestep the pattern lock if you are locked out but that is a drastic step and not advised to be taken on any device that is not your own.
- Pin – You can set up a numeric pin lock on the device. The pin has to at least 4 digits long, but we would recommend to keep it longer. Reusing numbers in the pin to make it more difficult to identify using the screen smudges. As is the usual advisory regarding pin numbers, do not use birthdays, anniversaries and other dates of personal significance as the pin. In the age of social media, it is becoming all too easy to find out dates that are important to someone.
- Password – Set up a password of at least 4 digit length for the device. Passwords are often recommended to be of length 8 or longer, and that precaution applies here as well. You can use numbers and symbols to make it more secure.
2) Set up Fingerprint Access
If your device has a fingerprint reader, you can set it up as the passcode for your device. Being a regular user of the feature on my J7 max, I’d say that it is the most convenient way to access your device. Granted that it does not work 100% of the times, but that’s what you set up a backup access method like a pattern or pin for.
3)Set up a Smart Lock
The Smart Lock feature allows you to configure your device to look for certain situations and stay unlocked.You can enable or disable Smart Lock from Settings > Security > Trusted Agents (under Advanced). You have the below options to configure the smart lock.
- On-body detection – You can enable this setting to allow the device to identify when you are carrying it and stay unlocked. It locks once you keep it somewhere.
- Trusted places – You can locate places on Google Maps that you want to be regarded as ‘Trusted, ‘ and the device will stay unlocked there.
- Trusted devices – Allow your Android device to stay unlocked in the proximity of your smartwatch, car or even NFC stickers. Note that this feature requires Bluetooth.
- Trusted face – Use the camera on the device to recognize the face of authorized users and unlock. It can be flaky at times and a regular PIN, pattern or password would be a safer option.
- Trusted voice – You need to have ‘OK Google’ in always on mode for this feature to work. You will need to go through a training process that sets up the voice model matching your voice before using this feature. In case the voice recognition is not accurate, you can go back and train the voice model again for greater accuracy.
4) Only use apps from the Google Play Store.
Seriously. The vast majority of Android malware comes from unreliable third party application sources. Sure, bogus apps make it into the Google Play Store from time to time, like the ones which messaged premium-rate text services, but they’re exception, not the rule.Google has also kept working on making the Play Store safer than ever. For example, Google Play Protect can automatically scan your Android device for malware when you install programs. Make sure it’s on by going to Settings > Security > Play Protect. For maximum security, click Full scanning and “Scan device for security threats” on.
5) Set up remote wipe
Again most modern devices support this functionality. It is as easy as setting up Google Sync on your Android device! If you lose your device, you’ll be able to wipe all data remotely using this feature. Remote wipe occurs as the first thing when the device connects to the internet. Often, you can also locate your device using other features this service will offer you and thus finding your misplaced, beloved information gateway.
6) Enable Encryption
Enabling encryption on you Android device ensures that the data is not in a readable form when the device is locked. It goes a long way in securing your Android device’s data. Once you unlock it, the data is decrypted and used.Some devices, like my Nexus 9, are encrypted by default. Other devices may have the option to enable it. Enable this feature to further enhance Android security.
If you follow up with all these suggestions, your phone will be safer. It won’t be perfectly safe nothing is in this world. But, you’ll be much more secure than you are now, and that’s not a small thing.