Android has a reputation as one of the more secure operating systems currently in use. While the occasional sensationalized story about monster security threats will pop up in the media, it still manages to avoid many of the hacking risks that systems like Windows manage to throw into the ring. However, that doesn’t mean you should blithely assume your phone is completely secure simply by existing! Luckily we have these ‘hacking basics’ to share that will help you keep your Android phone even more safe and secure, hassle-free.
Unlike PCs, where phishing attempts and native security threats should always be top of your mind, Android itself remains (fairly) robust. However, most data theft and security breaches on the Android operating system occur due to downloaded apps, be it using unverified app sources or simply through giving the wrong app access to your account. You can use this page in Google’s security settings to see what apps you have authorized, and remove access to anything you don’t recognize or no longer want to use. Needless to say, you should pair this security precaution up with taking a walk through installed apps and deleting those you no longer use. Not only will it help you stay safe, it will also free up space and potentially speed up your phone, too.
One last app-focused tip: Permissions. Limit them. Many of us are guilty of simply clicking through to the next screen on our device when we install new apps, without ever checking if the permissions they’re asking for are logical and fair. You can retroactively check these via the privacy or app permissions tab on your device. Apps that need location data intermittently can always re-enable access as needed, so don’t be afraid to pull that one as needed. It’s good to redo this after every android system update, too.
Last, but certainly not least on the app front- use common sense when downloading apps. Google Play is remarkably robust in checking the apps loaded to the store, but hackers are smart. Check reviews, number of downloads, and other features before you install anything. And make non-Play store downloads a no-no. Dud apps are a key way hackers can access your phone, so keep this at the forefront of your mind.
Now you have your app usage tightened up, let’s talk passwords. Firstly, you should have one on your device! While patterns aren’t all that secure, even they offer you a basic level of security you shouldn’t be without. You will always be the weakest link in your own security attempts. Just think of everything on your phone, from banking apps to your photos. Do you really want just anyone able to pull them up on a whim? Android does have a ‘smart lock’ function which will allow you to pre-approve situations where this stays off- like when at home, or a bluetooth device you trust is connected. You should find it in your security settings.
Google’s native saved password system isn’t all that bad, but there are better apps out there for it. You may want to consider a dedicated password saving system.
And don’t stop with passwords. Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security to your account you should be taking advantage of. Google is actually in the process of rolling out mandatory two-factor authentication. Sure, you might have to spend a few extra seconds inputting the code- but it will be well worth it with the boosted security. You can even look to apps like Authy to help increase your ability to use multi-factor authentication on apps that don’t natively send to your phone.
You might also want to dive deep into what’s displaying on your lock screen, the notifications you receive, and how accessible they are. If your device was in nefarious hands, do you really want all that data on immediate display? Most devices have your lock screen settings in the security section, or in a dedicated separate section. You can even add a note about emergency contacts or returning your device to the screen to make the emergency services or Good Samaritans better able to help you.
Keeping robust security on your Android devices will help you stay safe and protected in an intimidating digital world.