It is true that both smartphones and Android tablets become more secure with the new versions of the platform and security features that manufacturers implement. However, there is still a long way to go before it can be said that Android is a 100% secure and free of vulnerabilities operating system. While this is happening, we have prepared some security tips on Android which it is essential to know so that your mobile devices stay out of danger of threats such as malware, fake Internet sites, theft of identity and unauthorized access.
1. Install apps only from Play Store
Although it sounds very basic, there are many users who continue to download apps from unreliable websites that are not authorized by Google. These third-party app stores are literally full of applications and weird things that can potentially cause severe damage to your device. It is known that many of these applications are developed to steal personal information, load malware or even hijack a Google account. For this reason it is important to keep the option “Unknown sources”, disabled, in the “Security” section.
2. Inspect applications before installing them
Malicious applications can reach your device even from the Android application store itself, which as we know, unfortunately does not have effective control over this type of apps. Therefore, before clicking on the “Install” button, it is highly recommended to read the list of permissions of this application and check that they match what the application says to do. For example, a flashlight application does not require permission to make calls or send text messages, this is something that should immediately raise suspicion and dissuade the user from installing it on your device.
3. Skill screen lock
Nobody wants other people to pick up their phone and start looking at the content that is stored, the call and message logs, etc. Therefore, it is recommended to enable the screen lock to prevent this from happening. Keep in mind that any type of screen lock is better than nothing, although patterns and passwords are more secure than PINs, faces or fingerprints. You can set the phone to lock itself after a couple of minutes of inactivity or not if the user is connected to a trusted Wi-Fi network or when the car’s Bluetooth signal is used.
4. Enable screen setting
Starting with Android 5.0 Lollipop, users can “pin” a specific application on the lock screen. In this way, the little ones who can take the phone, have the opportunity to easily and quickly access their favorite game without being able to read email, text messages or any other confidential information. To activate this function, you only have to access the Phone Configuration, then access the “Security” section and then activate or deactivate the on/off switch for the screen fixing. If the option is available, you can also use “Request PIN before unlocking.” Then just open an application, click on the “Recent” button at the bottom of the screen and then select the application.
5. Install an antivirus application
Android devices, both phones and tablets, can be infected with malware generally through a suspicious application. To avoid this happening, it is best to install a good quality and efficient antivirus, which analyzes each application that is installed and explore the rest routinely.
6. Update Android when required
This is also a very important security tip that also offers additional benefits beyond security. Google constantly releases new security updates for Android, however, not all devices get them. If you have a phone with Android Nougat 7, the security updates will be automatic. Some phones also show the level of security patch on Android from the “About phone” section.
7. Avoid connecting to public WiFi networks
Connecting to a Wi-Fi network without a password means that anyone connected to the same wireless network can access our device. If you have a password to access the network, but you are sharing the network with strangers, which is commonly done in restaurants or hotels, then you should also take precautions. The best way is to limit yourself to the use of mobile data, take a mobile access point to WiFi or simply use a VPN service that can provide protection even when using a public WiFi network.
8. Deactivate unnecessary connections
It is also advisable to deactivate WiFi, Bluetooth and GPS connections when they are not being used. This will not only save battery, but also prevent the phone from connecting to random Wi-Fi networks.
9. Enable Android Device Manager
If it happens that you have lost your phone or it has been stolen, Android Device Manager allows you to sound an alarm, lock the screen of the device, or if the GPS is enabled, locate it in practically any part of the world. Through this tool you can even remove all your personal data from the device, although this is the last option since doing so will not be able to find the phone.
10. Configure the permissions of the applications
Previously the applications in Android basically forced you to accept all the permissions required to run on the system. Consequently, if you wanted to install an application with many permissions, you would have to let it do practically what it wanted. Fortunately, all that has changed and since Android 6.0 Marshmallow, you can configure the permissions of the applications. This you do from the “Applications” section, then clicking on the gear icon, “Application Permissions”.
11. Uninstall applications you never use
No doubt you take a look at the application drawer, you will find that there are several that you no longer use and that only take up space and in many cases drain your battery. By uninstalling applications that are not used, can significantly improve the operation of the phone, plus you will reduce the risk that a malware or attacker exploit a hidden vulnerability in these applications.