The best ways to secure your Android phone

The number of mobile phone users around the world is projected to exceed the five billion mark by 2019. This rapid increase, unfortunately, sees cybercriminals adapting and changing their methods to profit from this growing number of potential victims.

Android security should not be taken for granted. People who use Android devices face a wide range of security threats ranging from data loss, identity theft, hacked accounts, compromised financial information and even theft of your Android devices. Being the most widely used smartphone platform globally, it is a tempting target for malicious actors and all user’s should follow at least the basic Android security practices.

Configuring the Android Security Features

We will move from the basic security settings to more advanced settings as we progress through the article.

1) Set up a Screen Lock

This is the base level of android security that you can set up to prevent physical access to your device. You have the following options to choose from.

  • None – No lock on the device.
  • Swipe – Again, no lock. You just need to swipe to go to the home screen.
  • Pattern – Set up a pattern lock on the device. You will have to draw the pattern twice while setting it up. You should be aware that very simple patterns can just be figured out by looking at the smudges on the screen. A few overlapping nodes might make it difficult to recognize the start and end nodes and make your pattern harder to break. You can sidestep the pattern lock if you are locked out but that is a drastic step and not advised to be taken on any device that is not your own.
  • Pin – You can set up a numeric pin lock on the device. The pin has to at least 4 digits long, but we would recommend to keep it longer. Reusing numbers in the pin to make it more difficult to identify using the screen smudges. As is the usual advisory regarding pin numbers, do not use birthdays, anniversaries and other dates of personal significance as the pin. In the age of social media, it is becoming all too easy to find out dates that are important to someone.
  • Password – Set up a password of at least 4 digit length for the device. Passwords are often recommended to be of length 8 or longer, and that precaution applies here as well. You can use numbers and symbols to make it more secure.

2) Set up Fingerprint Access

If your device has a fingerprint reader, you can set it up as the passcode for your device. Being a regular user of the feature on my J7 max, I’d say that it is the most convenient way to access your device. Granted that it does not work 100% of the times, but that’s what you set up a backup access method like a pattern or pin for.

3)Set up a Smart Lock

The Smart Lock feature allows you to configure your device to look for certain situations and stay unlocked.You can enable or disable Smart Lock from Settings > Security > Trusted Agents (under Advanced). You have the below options to configure the smart lock.

  • On-body detection – You can enable this setting to allow the device to identify when you are carrying it and stay unlocked. It locks once you keep it somewhere.
  • Trusted places – You can locate places on Google Maps that you want to be regarded as ‘Trusted, ‘ and the device will stay unlocked there.
  • Trusted devices – Allow your Android device to stay unlocked in the proximity of your smartwatch, car or even NFC stickers. Note that this feature requires Bluetooth.
  • Trusted face – Use the camera on the device to recognize the face of authorized users and unlock. It can be flaky at times and a regular PIN, pattern or password would be a safer option.
  • Trusted voice – You need to have ‘OK Google’ in always on mode for this feature to work. You will need to go through a training process that sets up the voice model matching your voice before using this feature. In case the voice recognition is not accurate, you can go back and train the voice model again for greater accuracy.

4) Only use apps from the Google Play Store.

Seriously. The vast majority of Android malware comes from unreliable third party application sources. Sure, bogus apps make it into the Google Play Store from time to time, like the ones which messaged premium-rate text services, but they’re exception, not the rule.Google has also kept working on making the Play Store safer than ever. For example, Google Play Protect can automatically scan your Android device for malware when you install programs. Make sure it’s on by going to Settings > Security > Play Protect. For maximum security, click Full scanning and “Scan device for security threats” on.

5) Set up remote wipe

 Again most modern devices support this functionality. It is as easy as setting up  Google Sync on your Android device! If you lose your device, you’ll be able to wipe all data remotely using this feature. Remote wipe occurs as the first thing when the device connects to the internet. Often, you can also locate your device using other features this service will offer you and thus finding your misplaced, beloved information gateway.

6) Enable Encryption

Enabling encryption on you Android device ensures that the data is not in a readable form when the device is locked. It goes a long way in securing your Android device’s data. Once you unlock it, the data is decrypted and used.Some devices, like my Nexus 9, are encrypted by default. Other devices may have the option to enable it. Enable this feature to further enhance Android security.

If you follow up with all these suggestions, your phone will be safer. It won’t be perfectly safe nothing is in this world. But, you’ll be much more secure than you are now, and that’s not a small thing.

10 Useful Apps to Install on Your New Phone

So you just got a new Android phone. You’ve probably turned it on, logged into a bunch of apps, downloaded your favorites — Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. — and logged into all of them as well. But now it’s time to dive a little bit deeper. If you’re setting up a phone for the first time, here are 11 apps worth downloading that you might have missed.

1) Dropbox

The rise of iCloud, OneDrive, et al might have taken some of the shine off Dropbox, which was the first app to properly handle syncing and cloud backup, but it’s still the best option for sharing files and moving them around between platforms, and of course for backing up your photos. You’ll probably want to fork out for 1TB of storage though, for $9.99/month.

Freemium for Android and iOS

11-hidden-WhatsApp-featuresAlso Read:11 hidden WhatsApp features

2) Google Photos

We’ve got nothing against Apple Photos perse, but Google Photos works perfectly across Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS, and won’t cost you anything at all if you don’t mind a bit of resizing. Those considerations, plus all of Google’s smart image recognition and a few neat editing tools, mean it’s our default choice for managing photos and videos.

Freemium for Android and iOS

3) LastPass

Humans are bad at creating passwords, and we’re bad at remembering things. Thankfully, there are password managers like LastPass. A password manager generates a unique, complex password for each site or app that requires one. When you need to log in, LastPass fills in the correct information for you. LastPass also securely stores your personal information so you can quickly fill out those tedious forms when you’re signing up for a service. It includes a way to safely share passwords with other people, even after you’ve departed this mortal realm.

Freemium for Android and iOS

4) IFTTT

What is there left to say about IFTTT (If This Then That)? Change your phone wallpaper on a schedule, turn your Wi-Fi off as soon as you reach the office, post to multiple social networks at once, get alerts about specific app price drops, launch Google Maps when you need to leave for a meeting, back up your iOS contacts to Google, and so on, and so on…

Free for Android and iOS

5) Instapaper

There’s very little to choose between this and Pocket but we’ve opted for Instapaper as the cleaner and more focused of the two. Anything on the web you don’t have time to read immediately, send over to Instapaper, and it’ll be there waiting for you in an ad-free, clean, clear, format that doesn’t make you want to throw your phone out of the nearest window.

Free for Android and iOS

6) Microsoft Word

Alright granddad—installing Word might feel like a step back in time but Microsoft’s mobile apps are more nimble than you might think, and having Word on board ensures you can view all those email attachments properly. Plus, if you do want to jot down some ideas or the start of the great American novel on the go, then Word is one of your better options.

Free for Android and iOS

7) CamScanner

CamScanner isn’t unique in being able to turn your paper documents into digital versions with a snap of your smartphone’s camera, but it is the best app we’ve found for the job: The smart crop and auto-enhance features just work, with the minimum of fuss, and if you stump up $5 a month you can get OCR text recognition plus a bunch of other extra goodies.

Freemium for Android and iOS

8) Google Translate

An app that really shouldn’t need any introduction, Google Translate is already very, very good at getting text, audio, and images translated from one language to another, and it’s only going to get smarter over time with Google’s AI improvements. Clean and easy to use, and with the option of caching some language packs for offline use while roaming as well.

Free for Android and iOS

9) Sleep Cycle

Sleep Cycle isn’t unique in what it does, but in terms of support for both Android and iOS, and the straightforward way it operates, it’s hard to beat. You’re probably familiar with the idea, but if you’ve never tried it, give Sleep Cycle a go: It analyzes your sleep quality while you doze to wake you up at the most optimum time, based on your patterns of slumber.

Freemium for Android and iOS

10) Evernote

Evernote’s star has waxed and waned somewhat across its nine year history, but we continue to love it for its cross-platform syncing, its flexibility, and the host of features that it offers, some of which you might have forgotten about—like handwriting recognition, presentation mode for the big screen, and easy note clipping from just about anywhere.

Freemium for Android and iOSApps-For-new-phone