10 Basic Ways to Secure your Android Smart Phone

As an Android user, how well do you know the security and privacy settings of the Operating System (OS) you are using? Do you know there are basic features inbuilt in your android OS that can help you stay safe as you maximise your smartphone?

It’s time to sit down and get to know your OS all over again or re-acquaint yourself with its built-in features. For starters, some features you may want to check out are Smart Lock, Device Protection,Find My Device, Verify Apps, and full-disk encryption. Also the Android OS offer you the ability to use verified thrid-party apps to keep your smartphone as safe. Let’s look at some of these features and other ways you can keep your phone safe and by extension  safeguard your privacy.

  1. Lock Your Phone

This is the most basic security measure for any smartphone user. Locking your phone prevent unauthourized persons from tampering with your devie.

The use of PIN codes among other methods is still the safest way to lock your phone. Fingerprints, patterns, voice-recognition, iris scanning, etc. are more breakable compared to use of PIN code.

Make sure while using PIN code, you do not use the famous 1-2-3-4 as you PIN.

2. Use two-factor authentication

The best way of doing this is with Google’s own two-factor authentication. This is an extra layer of security to protect your google acounts from being compromised. 

With 2-Step Verification, if someone hacks through your password layer, he’ll still need your phone or Security Key to get into your account.

Two-Step Authentication

Login-in to your Google account and head to the two-step verification settings page. Once there, choose “Using 2-step verification” from the menu. From there, follow the prompts. You’ll be asked for your phone number. You can get verification codes by voice or SMS on your phone. Opting for SMS is easier so you can get the code correctly. 

In seconds, you’ll get a call with your verification number. You then enter this code into your web browser’s data entry box Your device will then ask you if you want it to remember the computer you’re using.

You can also make this even simpler by using Google Prompt. With this you can authorize Google apps by simply entering “yes” when prompted on your phone.

3. Only use apps from the Google Play Store:

The vast majority of Android malware comes from unreliable third party application sources. It is true that bogus apps do make it to Google Play Store, but they’re exception, not the rule.

Google has 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.

Google Play Protect helps you keep your device safe and secure.

  • It runs a safety check on apps from the Google Play Store before you download them.
  • It checks your device for potentially harmful apps from other sources. These harmful apps are sometimes called malware.
  • It warns you about any detected potentially harmful apps found, and removes known harmful apps from your device.
  • It warns you about detected apps that violate our Unwanted Software Policy by hiding or misrepresenting important information.

4. Use a Virtual Private Network

If you’re on the road, whether it’s your local coffee shop or the remote office, you definiely would want to make use of free Wi-Fi. We all do. And we tend to take big chances when we do since they are mostly insecure.

In other to keep safe while using a free Wi-Fi, you will need to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN protects you by hiding your transaction data from hackers who might want o take advantage of the free WiFi to sneef data from unsuspecting users.

Some of the popular VPN apps are, F-Secure Freedome VPN, KeepSolid VPN Unlimited, NordVPN, Private Internet Access, and TorGuard. Do well not to use a free VPN service

5. Password management

When it comes to passwords, you have choice;

1.Use the same password for everything, which is really dumb.

2. Write down your passwords on paper, which isn’t as bad an idea as it sounds so long as you don’t put them on a sticky note on your PC screen;

3. Memorize all your passwords

4) Use a password management program.

One of the popular password management available is Google password management.

Google Password Management UI

Google gives you the opportunity to cordinate and sync your passwords from all your devices to one platform. And you can now access your password from anywhere solong as you are logged into your Google account.

Other mobile password management programs include, LastPass, 1Password, and Dashlane.

6. Make use of anti-virus software.

While Google Play Protect does a good job of protecting your phone, there is need for you to use a mobile antivirus software to protect your device from malware and malicious apps.

One of the best freeware anti virus software today is Avast Mobile Security & Antivirus. It’s other security features, like its phone tracker, doesn’t work that well, but it’s good at finding and deleting malware. The best freemium anti-virus software is Norton Mobile Security.

7. Switch Off any connection you are not using

You need to make sure that your device connectivity buttons are switched off anytime you are not in use of that feature. If you’re not using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, turn them off. Besides saving some battery life, network connections can be used to attack you. The BlueBorne Bluetooth hackers exploited this to reck havoc on many.

Android Connectivity Buttons

Though Android was patched to stop this attack in its September 2017 release, but has your device vendor deployed the patch. You can’t be sure.

8. Uninstall any app you are not using

Every application comes with its own security problems. Most Android software vendors do a good job of updating their programs. Get rid of an application if you not using it. The fewer application doors you have into your smartphone, the fewer chances of compromise by an attacker.

Following up with these tips will keep your phone much more secure than it is right now. It won’t be perfectly safe though but you have more to gain by reducing the chances of compromise.

9. Make Sure Find My Device is On

Losing your phone is a gut-wrenching feeling, so you also want to make sure you have a way to track it and, worse case scenario, remotely reset your phone if there’s no chance of getting it back.

Fortunately, Google has a tracking system in place for Android phones known as Find My Device. It should be enabled by default on all modern Android phones.

If you ever lose your phone or it gets stolen, you can fire up the closest web browser and search Google for “Find My Device” and remotely locate your lost device. You have various options on what you can do the device, include to remote lock, erase etc.

10. Do not disclose your location

Many apps, for remarketing purpose or other reasons always want access to your geolocation (even requesting permission to run geolocation in the background when users are not using the app). Limitng the permission for access to location for some apps is highly recommended. Android allows users to change the accuracy of their location data. If you’re not sure which apps to pick, stick to GPS.

Disclosing your location exposes you to danger of being tracked by unscrupulous elements.

10. Always Backup your Smartphone data

Backing up your smartphone is a safe way of making sure you do not completely loose valuable information stored in your device

If you backup your Android phone data such as Apps, Settings, Contacts, Call History etc, when your phone hacked by someone, then the data can be restored after factory reset or flashing Rom. It will also be useful because you can restore this data to the new phone.

You can backup your data in the cloud using Goole drive or externally on a PC or external drive.

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