Secure Your Android Phone Now With This Checklist
Ready to use your new Android? If you are concerned about your privacy and security, you’ll be happy to know that it just takes a moment from the first time you turn it on to lockdown privacy and security settings. You should do this before you download any new apps or begin to sync your data.
You’re right to be concerned about security and privacy because Androids are prone to Malware and data leaks which might be used to damage your cell phone. Eventually your hardware or battery could be destroyed if Malware runs its course and you might have to get your new Android fixed at a cell phone repair shop.
Follow this checklist to lockdown Android:
- Set a Strong Passcode
Setting a strong passcode, or password is your first line of defense against snoops and crooks. The longer your pin number, or password, the harder it will be for an untrusted person to access your phone. A passcode or password is the best way to protect your privacy – in some states you can be compelled to unlock your phone with a fingerprint by law enforcement.
To set a secure passcode, go to Settings, Security, and tap on Screen Lock. If you choose a pin code, use at least 6 digits for good security. The more digits on your pin, the harder it will be for an attacker to brute-force their way into your device.
For the best security, use a password with numbers and letters.
- Encrypt your Device
When you encrypt your phone, you prevent cybercriminals from gaining access to your personal data. Unfortunately, this setting is rarely turned on by default because it can slow down older devices.
To turn on encryption, go to Settings, then Security, then Encrypt Device and follow the directions. Most newer phones will allow you to encrypt your data without slowing your device down.
- Turn off Cloud Backup
If you are concerned about law enforcement demanding that Google turn over your data, turn off backup. This is also for people concerned about the fact that their Androids are sending personal data to Google’s servers. Unfortunately, if you don’t backup your Android regularly on your computer using ADB commands (which can be advanced for many users) if you lose your phone, you lose your data.
If you’d like to disable cloud backup, go to Settings, then Backup & Reset, and turn off Back up My Data.
- Think Twice About Using Google’s Built-in Services
Google services are interwoven into Android, which makes them convenient to use. However, using them results in advertisers collecting information about you, making you an ad target. You also relinquish control over where your personal information is kept.
The easiest way to avoid using Google services is to simply not sign in with any Google accounts.
- Don’t upload your passwords to Google
Smart Lock is a hand feature which can unlock your phone when you are in a particular location or when you are connected to a certain device. The downside is that it leaves your phone unlocked, opening up the potential to grant a snoop or criminal access to device data. If you’d rather have your passwords stored in your memory, turn this feature off by going to Google Settings, then Smart Lock for Passwords. Toggle this setting off.
- Turn off advertising tracking
Ad-tracking is the easiest way for Google and advertisers to track you and your habits. If you turn off interest-based ads, ad networks will be prohibited from building a profile about you and based on what you read, view, or do.
To turn this feature off, go to Google Settings, head to Ads, and choose Opt out of Interest Based ads to toggle off the setting.
- Adjust location settings
Your location says a lot about you – what you do, who you meet, and of course, where you go. Google will use this data to push targeted ads to you. Turning your location off is a good choice for privacy.
Head to Settings, Location, and toggle it off if you would like. Or you can turn off Google Location History by toggling this option to off. You can also Delete Location History here to remove your data from Google’s servers.
- Curb Notifications
Your lock screen can reveal a lot about you, but your device can limit what is shown on your lock screen so other people can’t see your personal notifications as they come in.
Head to Settings, then Sound & Notifications, and scroll down. You can choose to Hide Sensitive Notification Content so you can see when an app is alerting you without leaking data.
- Prevent third-party apps
Installing third-party software from an unreputable app market is a surefire way to get Malware. If you only want to install apps that have been verified and checked for Malware, go to Settings, then Security, and make sure Unknown sources is turned off.
Congratulations. By taking these quick actions you have improved the security and privacy of your Android settings significantly. You’re now ready to enjoy your new phone.
To prevent any infections in the future, make sure that you only download apps available on the Google Play Store, and consider installing a security app on your phone that will periodically check for Malware and viruses. You might also benefit from an app locker to add an extra layer of security in case someone does gain access to your device.
Making sure that your device is secure is a good idea. Better to prevent problems now, than to try to fix problems that have occured later.