Android OS has various vendors and versions and runs on smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices. So users who use devices based on Android face particular security challenge.
Here we list some common concerns to keep you and your Android device safe from attackers. Some of these are pretty simple, and your Android supports them already. What you need to do is to enable them. Others are more complicated; they may require third parties' tools to enhance security shield of your Android device.
1. Enable Security Features of Android
1.1 Update Software
Any software has flaws; some of them will cause serious security risk. So updating Android OS, either small patches or new versions, is critical to keep your device running up-to-date Android.
So you should update Android by either auto setting or manual checking. However, because of the diversity of the Android ecosystem, separate vendors update their Android OS under different policies. Some have better services and quicker responses to new features and security patches. A list from best to worst of the leading vendors are as follows:
Even for the same vendor, different devices and types may have different update policies. So you should check both vendor and model of your Android and maximize the priority of up-to-date Android to ensure to be in good shape against cybercrime.
1.2 Lock Smartphone
Lock your Android device is so simple. But, some people still don't do it. In fact, you're more likely to leak your private data, like credit-card accounts, by losing your device than attacking by any malware. So lock your smartphone is a critical security step to keep privacy safe.
What's the best way to lock your phone? Android offers lots of options:
- PIN, but not set as 1-2-3-4, it's too easy to break
1.3 Only Use Apps from Google Play
Android OS itself is relatively safe, but the apps installed by yourself are another story. The main security risk on Android devices is from apps users downloaded, especially from unreliable third party application sources. To avoid any malware, you should only download apps from Google Play.
Google does its best to make the Store safer than any other app sources. It scans all apps before listing them. We also read reports that bogus apps, which include malicious code, make them into the Google Play from time to time, but they're exceptions, not the rule.
Besides, if you tune on Google Google Play Protect, it can automatically scan your Android device for malware when you install programs. For maximum security, you may do as follows.Settings > Security > Play Protect
, then click Full scanning and Scan device for security threats.
Now that you know the apps from third parties may cause security issues so that you need to keep an eye to update them as long as their vendors have new security patches ready. Most Android software vendors do a good job of security updating, but it costs your time and effort to update them. So, If you're not using an app, get rid of it immediately. It will lower the chances an attacker can exploit.
1.4 Use Device Encryption
When your smartphone is in others' hands, all your private data are visible for them, either a crook or an agent of US Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Android gives you an option to avoid such a disclosing. To encrypt your device, go toSettings > Security > Encrypt Device
, and follow the prompts.
Then, your data in smartphone, like contacts, calendars, and notes, are safe unless you give the password to others.
1.5 Password Management
Password management is a new concept in Android OS. You may have some out-of-date ideas about passwords:
- Use the same password for everything
- Write down your passwords on notebook
- Memorize all your passwords in mind
Unfortunately, they are all not terribly practical. Android strongly suggests you to use a password management program.
Now Google comes with one built-in password management program. However, if your devices aren't limited in Google or Android, you can use other password management programs, such as LastPass, 1Password, and Dashlane.
1.6 Turn off Wi-Fi Connections
Wi-Fi is the primary channel by which malware passes your private data. Even if you set a firewall for both inbound and outbound connections, the Internet risk cannot be isolated completely. So, if you're not using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, turn them off. It will decrease the chances dramatically that cybercriminals attack your smartphone.
The Bluetooth hackers are still alive and work similarly as Wi-Fi hackers. So, turn off Bluetooth too. If you don't use it, don't give them a chance.
2. Enhance Security by�Third Parties' Tools
2.1 Use a Virtual Private Network
When you connect with Wi-Fi, you may not know who is the provider of the Wi-Fi service. In some cases, your smartphone runs under free Wi-Fi, such as a local coffee shop or public park. It's a huge security risk because the free Wi-Fi providers theoretically can get all the content you communicate through Wi-Fi.
You can use free Wi-Fi, but you need extra security protection: it's Virtual Private Network (VPN).
Some third parties offer mobile VPN on Android, such as:
- F-Secure Freedome VPN
- KeepSolid VPN
- Private Internet Access VPN
- TorGuard VPN
2.2 Use Antivirus Software
As we mentioned, apps you downloaded are the primary source of malicious code. If your apps are from Google Play, Google Play Protect does an excellent job of protecting your smartphone.
Users cannot guarantee to download apps from Google Play alone, as well as Google Play Protect cannot dig out all malicious code at the first moment. So that employ third parties' antivirus software is a good option if your smartphone is running lots of apps.
Below antivirus list has a good reputation at Android OS
- Avast Mobile Security & Antivirus
- Norton Mobile Security