Smartphones have become a cornerstone of our lives, for some of us, everything we hold dear is in that small magic box that Steve Jobs introduced to the world about a decade ago. Android operating system is currently being used by 2 Billion people on earth which makes it the most popular OS in the planet. Malicious apps in your android device can steal your sensitive data, credit card information and passwords. In some cases, hackers can even blackmail you using special strain of viruses’ known as ransomwares whose popularity is in the rise. When this happens, hackers lock your device with a special key and demand you pay a ransom to get the key to unlock your device.
Here are some tips to help you improve the security of your android device.
Disable Unknown Sources
this setting allows you or any third party app (Apps that are alternative to Google Play Store) to install apps that are not from the play store. The play store scans and keeps away a lot – not 100% though – malicious apps from your devices by scanning for malware to ensure you access apps that are malware free (mostly). While unknown sources option is enabled, a malicious app can go ahead and install additions malware infested apps. You should enable unknown sources as on a need bases and not permanently. To disable unknown sources, follow the following steps:
- Navigate to Setting> Security.
- Check the option “Unknown sources”.
- Tap OKon the prompt message.
- Select “Trust”.
Turn On Google Play Protect
Play protect checks apps during the download process and also periodically scans your device for harmful applications – much like how an antivirus works. If it finds a harmful application is found on your device, it will either send you a notification for you to uninstall the app if it’s harmful or automatically remove the harmful application automatically and then notify you. This is all to ensure that the apps on your devices are not harmful including apps installed from unknown sources – sources other than the google play store. To turn on play protect, use the following steps (This may vary depending on the version of your android operating system):
- Open your Android device’s Google Play Store app Google Play.
- Tap Menu and then Play Protect.
- Turn Scan device for security threats on or off.
Keep your devices operating system and apps updated
For those of you lucky enough to have android devices that receives regular security update, be sure to update them as soon as possible. Over the Air security updates are there for a reason – to patch vulnerabilities on the operating system so that you can stay secure. Some manufacturers will offer updates regularly while others won’t. On the other hand, apps receive updates through the play store regularly, and most of us have access to them. You should not ignore them because the app developers discover new bugs and vulnerabilities in their apps almost on a daily basis. Also it has an added advantage of coming with new features. Please keep your android device as updated as you can, this might save a lot of trouble similar to the Wannacry ransomware that infected windows operating system that were not up to date.
Set a lock screen for your device
I know this seems obvious but it made the list for a simple reason, if you were to leave your devices in an open public place, a malicious person or even a friend may just unlock it and steal your data or even install a harmful application on your device. The person may even disable security measures you have put into place. Always use a lock screen for your device, nowadays its less of an inconvenience due to the rise in popularity of biometric security such as fingerprint scanners. Fingerprint scanners on smartphones enable you to open the device instantly by pressing on the fingerprint reader.
Backup your data
You can lose your smartphone either through theft or other means but you don’t have to lose your data in the process. Apps such as Google photos will back up all your photos with unlimited storage on the cloud on google drive. Google offers 15gb free of storage on Google Drive and other companies such as Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive and Amazon Drive have similar offering using their drives on the cloud. There are other applications such as Google Contacts that will backup and synchronize your contacts on the cloud and multiple devices instead of storing the contacts on the device memory. I will write a follow up article on how to back up your android device data on the cloud for free. Backing up your data on the cloud is the best policy you can institute for your smartphone as it can be synced on multiple devices while at the same time ensuring that its safe in case your device is lost.
I have gone through the most fundamental steps one can undertake to secure data in an android smartphone. Also am pretty sure I have not touched everything you can do, please feel free to comment below with addition steps one can undertake to secure your data. One last thing, Google recommends linking your android device to your personal google account to give you added features such as find my device and wipe your data off your device incase its stolen. The wipe feature prevents your data from falling in the long hands thus ensuring your private information remains private.