Not all Android phones and tablets receive regular security updates, which is problematic for two main reasons. First, even brand new Android devices do not necessarily include the security features that their users might expect. Secondly, it makes devices more prone to malware attacks.
Here are ten important steps you can take to reduce the risk to your Android smartphone or tablet.
1. Choose phone or tablet that already has strong security features
If you’re buying a new Android device, consider choosing one from Google’s Android Enterprise Recommended list. Although not foolproof, the list is a helpful compilation of those Android devices that benefit from the strongest security features.
2. Check for security updates every month
As we’ve already noted, not all Android phones get regular security updates. However, most receive them for at least three years. If you’re not sure when your device last received an update, you can check in the Security Update sub-menu of Settings.
In addition to ensuring that your device’s core software is updated, don’t forget to check for updates to apps in Settings. These app updates can fix the security problems you didn’t even know you had.
3. Use a VPN to access public wifi networks
At some time or other, most of us need to use our smartphones or tablets on a public wifi network. It is the convenience and easy accessibility of these public wifi networks that is also their major downfall. The fact that users can connect to them without any authentication makes them extremely vulnerable to hackers.
A hacker who gets between your device and the connection point can intercept all your communications. This might include emails, bank account details, and sensitive business information. Depending on the information that a hacker gathers, they may acquire the ability to access your personal systems even once you are no longer connected to the wifi system in question.
Using a Virtual Private Network, or VPN is an excellent way to protect your information. A VPN service encrypts your data and sends it in this new encrypted form to your Internet Service Provider. From there, it goes to the VPN server.
Your destination site sees the VPN server as the source of your information, rather than you and your device. In the same way, it is very difficult for a hacker to identify your device as the source of that information. Moreover, even if they can pinpoint your device, the information is encrypted and most hackers choose to pursue targets that do not require the difficult process of decryption.
There is plenty of choice in the VPN market. Many of the best also have Android-specific apps. Finding the top VPN for Android phones and tablets may require a little research but will be worth the effort.
4. Use Android 3.0 or above
Android 3.0 was the first Android system to use file system encryption. Devices that do not include any type of encryption are more vulnerable to external threats.
5. Avoid downloading apps from unknown sources
Although it may be tempting, apps from unknown or unofficial sources are an easy way to infect your device with malware. It is safest to restrict downloads to those from the Google Play App Store. For extra security, the Settings menu of your device includes a checkbox that allows you to disable the installation of unofficial apps.
If you do choose to avoid downloading apps from unknown sources, you should also avoid the “side-loading” of apps. This is where you use the raw installation files to “side-load” apps onto a device in the same way as you might with a computer.
6. Lock your screen when not using your device
Locking your device’s screen is basic but sensible protection. Most Android smartphones and tablets include the option to do this in the security section of Settings.
You can also install an app that will lock the device remotely when it receives a text or website command. Similar apps enable you to wipe the contents of the tablet or smartphone by remote command. Both are potentially useful if your device is lost or stolen.
7. Use an anti-malware app
When it comes to malware, you can never have too much protection. Downloading one of the recognized anti-malware apps from an antivirus company is a sensible precaution. Many of these apps are free, although most also offer premium, paid-for services.
8. Use an extra encryption layer to secure sensitive data
If you need to store sensitive data on your device, you could consider using a recognized app to store it securely. This will protect your information with a password and also via encryption.
9. Choose the Chrome browser over the standard Android version
Since the launch of Android 4.1, all Android devices include both Chrome and Android’s own standard browser. Many experts regard Chrome as more secure. They also note that its automatic pre-installation on devices suggests it may be Android’s default browser of the future.
10. Use a password manager
Password managers work by hiding passwords for many different logins behind a master password. Many of them can also automatically generate new strong passwords and fill them in for you every time you want to log in.
Also Read: How to Find your Lost Android Phone