Android smartphones offer much in the way of choice and innovation. But the phones also have some serious security problems that need to be dealt with.
Here are a few tips on how to keep out intruders on your smartphone:
Make sure you tweak your internet security settings so intruders can’t steal private details, such as banking or work information. Access the settings to turn off pop-ups for a start.
Don’t download apps that aren’t from well-known or reputable brands. Google has already had to delete apps remotely from users’ phones because of malware – don’t let that happen to you.
Location-based apps are great, but they can also be a little uncomfortable for some users. Turn off location-based features to both save yourself some battery and the worry of being watched.
Lock your screen. If you lose your phone, make it harder for someone to crack into it – keep a lock on your screen with a code only you know.
Don’t underestimate the power in your hand
When it comes to your smartphone, you don’t always know the power you’re holding. Your phone is basically a computer, and it has the same limitations and weaknesses as any other computer. Take the same basic precautions you would use with a Windows PC — which means, first of all, installing anti-virus software.
Be careful where you get your apps
Stu Sjouwerman, founder of KnowBe4, a private security firm in Clearwater, Fla., says every Android user needs to be cautious about downloading and installing apps.
“Not all apps are friendly or safe. Some apps are evil,” Sjouwerman said. “Make sure you check out apps carefully before you install them on your phone or tablet. Also, be careful downloading free games for your phone.”
Don’t answer text messages from unfamiliar numbers
Text messages from unknown entities are best deleted, not answered. Otherwise, you might end up with malware.
Back up your data and add a remote-wipe feature
“God forbid your device has been lost or stolen, what should you do? What if the thief attempts to gain access to those embarrassing pictures of you?” Powers said. “No need to panic — there’s an easy fix.
“By adding a remote-wipe feature, you can erase those humiliating pictures (and all other data) remotely before the phone thief gets his grubby hands on them,” Powers said. “Unlike Apple devices such as the iPhone or iPad, Android devices do not natively incorporate features such as Remote Wipe and Backup.
“So instead choose third-party software from a reputable source designed to keep your data safely off your phone.”
Set your passcode or pattern lock
Use a passcode or pattern lock to protect your phone. If you’re choosing a numerical passcode, use more than the minimum four digits. Instead, use something long and complicated and you will be rewarded with greater security. As always, choose your passcode or pattern wisely.
Encrypt your data
Using encryption to keep data secure is an essential part of using any machine. By adding encryption, you give your data security a fighting chance.
“Encryption is known as the translation of data into a secret code. Before data may be accessed, a key or password must be entered,” Powers said. “For the sake of your data, it is extremely important to enable disk encryption.
“Enable data encryption by tapping Settings -> Security -> Enable Encryption. By enabling this option, you make it difficult for someone to pull readable data from your phone if the device is lost or stolen.”
Don’t do business on your phone
“Under no circumstances do any financial transactions on your phone,” Sjouwerman said. “Your credit-card data will travel over the air and can be compromised.”
It may be more convenient to use your phone, but it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your credit-card numbers and bank accounts.
Update your phone’s software as often as possible
“Many ask themselves, ‘Why should I update my device?’ The answer is quite simple: By keeping your operating system up-to-date, you will reduce the risk of security vulnerabilities,” said Sabrina M. Powers of SecureState, an information-security provider in Cleveland.
“Your Android device will usually prompt you when an update is available. Most Android updates are carried out ‘over-the-air.’ Therefore, it’s crucial that you are first hooked up to either your mobile network or Wi-Fi before initiating the update,” Powers said. “To check for updates, go to Settings -> System Updates -> Firmware Update.”