Sick of hearing about hackers getting smartphone users’ personal information? Worried that it might happen to you? If you’re an Android phone user, there are plenty of ways you can keep the hackers at bay. Use these clever tactics to secure your Android smartphone and keep your data the way it should be – private and protected.
Use a ‘lock screen’
Were your phone to go missing, a lock screen is your first line of defence. It keeps thieves from either accessing your data right away and/or installing spyware on to it, buying you time to find or deactivate it. The great thing about this strategy for blocking hackers is that it’s easy to set up.
For most Android phones, you’ll simply go to your settings and look for “Security” or ‘Screen Lock’ to set it up. You’ll usually be asked to choose a four-digit passcode. Just make sure that you don’t choose something obvious, like 1-1-1-1 or 1-2-3-4. Make it a habit to quickly wipe down your phone’s screen (just swiping across your shirt or pants would suffice) to clean off the finger marks that are left behind when unlocking your phone, so hackers can’t use them as clues to breach your device. Pro Tip: Use one of your numbers twice in a row, so it looks like only three fingerprints are on your screen, out of the four button passcode.
Additionally, many of the latest Android phones offer additional options for locking your screen. You may be able to set an alphanumeric password, a touchscreen swipe pattern, or even facial or fingerprint recognition.
Choose 4G over WiFi
Public Wi-Fi networks have made it much easier to stay connected these days. However, it has also made it easier for others to access your information. For that reason, you’ll want to invest in a 4G LTE plan from a trusted mobile network to ensure that you can still use your smartphone without having to use an unsecured WiFi network.
If you do choose to use WiFi, make sure it’s on a password-protected network from a provider you trust. Otherwise, hackers can get a hold of your email account, your passwords, and other private information. You can also get an Android app like ‘Freedome’, which makes your data unreadable on any WiFi network and blocks tracking while you surf the Web.
Secure Your Google Play Account
Every Android user is familiar with Google Play, the ultimate resource for Android-friendly apps, games, music, movies, books, and more. But few think to add a layer of security to prevent unwanted purchases.
To secure your Google Play account, go to the Google Play Store and click on ‘Settings’ on the main menu. From there, you’ll want to set the ‘Require authentication for purchases’ setting to, ‘For all purchases through Google Play on this device’. Additionally, you may want to unlink any credit cards or other payment methods you’ve synced to your account.
Look at App Permissions Before Installing
When you download an app for your Android phone, you’ll see a pop-up screen that lists the permissions required to use the app. Don’t just tap ‘Install’ before reading through these. Make sure the app isn’t accessing information it doesn’t need in order to function. If it is, it’s a sign that something may be fishy. Find an alternative app to download that doesn’t require so much access to your information.
Another good way to vet your apps before downloading is to check out the user reviews. If the app has thousands of downloads and positive reviews, it’s likely a legitimate option. If the app’s downloads are few and reviews are sparse or negative, you may want to avoid downloading it.
Disable Downloads From Unknown Sources
It’s not just apps you have to be careful about downloading. It’s also important to avoid downloading files or clicking on links from unknown sources. There are also certain types of malware, like ‘NotCompatible C’, that come from unsecured websites and can allow your phone to be used without your permission.
To avoid these unwanted downloads, go to your settings and click on “Security.” There, you’ll be able to uncheck the box that says, “Allow installation of apps from unknown sources.”
Though Android phones have numerous benefits, their ability to download apps from any source puts them at a greater risk. Meanwhile, there are the additional risks of theft and unsecured Wi-Fi networks. With these smart strategies in place, however, your Android phone should be safe from hackers in any situation.