Your Android May Not Be Safe: 7 Pro Tips For Smartphone Security

Cybersecurity has consolidated itself in the tech zeitgeist for good. Now, even children need to know their way around cyberthreats.

Nowhere is this more prevalent than on our smartphones.

Android liberated the smartphone Operating System (OS), leading the way for open-source development and a much more expansive ecosystem than competitors.

With all of your data centralized on one small device, what can you do to protect it?

State of the Android ecosystem

2008 marked the year Google released its seminal smartphone OS, Android. Developed as a competitor to Apple’s iOS, Android now covers over 70 percent of the Mobile OS Market.

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How the Android OS continues to improve

Google released its 12th generation of Android OS in October 2021. These updates boast more flexible security settings, precise biometrics, and increasing data transparency.

In late April 2022, Google rolled out huge updates to their Data Safety Section on the Play Store. This means before and after app installation, you’ll see:

  • if the app is collecting your data or not;
  • what they’re doing with the information;
  • whether you can request your data be deleted;
  • if they’re sharing it with third parties.

While these strides in data transparency and security are needed, the Android ecosystem is far from impenetrable. 

Where the Android OS falls short

The largest security threat lies within the walls of Google’s own Play Store. Malware hidden within applications acts as a Trojan Horse, sneaking its way into your smartphone.

An Android also faces huge security vulnerabilities due to version fragmentation. This fragmentation happens when new updates are released. It’s up to the individual phone carrier to approve them. 

So, while Snow Cone may be released globally, your phone carrier could be stuck on Android 9.

7 Tips for upgrading your Android’s cybersecurity

No need to switch to iOS just yet. You can still enjoy the USB-C, open filing system, and widgets the Android ecosystem offers. Here are several ways you can maintain your cyber safety while thriving on an Android.

 

  • Password-protect your smartphone

Albeit the most obvious consideration, the number of people who don’t password-protect their phones is staggering. Use your Android’s PIN, pattern lock, or password settings for a simple, effective guard against thieves.

Say you leave your phone in a cafe by accident. Unprotected, anyone could simply swipe up and access your data. Banking, emails, documents, and private photos are all a mere tap away.

Android also offers a “Lockdown” setting. When enabled, access to the phone is only allowed through a PIN or password, disabling facial recognition, and fingerprint ID. This is a useful feature too.

  • Be wary when downloading suspicious apps

Harmful malware litters the web, dressing as innocent apps and games. Many require an external APK (Android Package Kit) download and some even show up on Google Play. Pay extra attention when downloading these apps. 

Malware most often enters android devices through apps. Google constantly scans its app store for malicious code, creating a mostly-secure environment. However, there will always be a few bad apples that slip through the cracks.

Common sense is your greatest weapon here. Put your trust in verified apps with high ratings, installed only via Google Play.

  • Unsecure connections

Free, public Wi-Fi is tempting to almost anyone these days. Many visit the same establishments day after day for their fast, free internet connection. This, however, can be a big mistake. 

Hackers love a public connection. They pose as a “free Wi-Fi” connection, collecting personal data from anyone who connects. 

You may consider a Virtual Private Network (VPN) for added security. Download the Surfshark APK to hide your personal data from snoops on public connections.

  • Stay updated

Hackers are constantly finding loopholes and vulnerabilities in old software. There’s a simple, yet elegant way to bypass many of these security risks. Keep your device and all apps updated to their latest versions.

Take advantage of the newest security updates, patches, and safeguards. As an app or OS becomes older, backdoors in the software become well-known. Developers patch these consistently, so if you’re missing updates, you’re at risk.

Set your apps to auto-update or update them yourself, regularly. Outdated apps and OS are easy targets for malicious activity.

  • Configure optimal security settings

Perhaps the simplest form of security upgrades, configuring optimal settings can help you in the long run. Here are just a few changes you can implement right now:

  • If you receive sensitive information via notifications, consider hiding them from the lock screen.
  • “Smart Lock” is a setting that allows for your phone to be left unlocked, only under preset conditions, e.g: when you’re connected to your Bluetooth speaker.
  • Ensure “Google Play Protect” is enabled in the “Security” settings. This is Google Play’s scanner, which searches for hazardous code.

Some phones don’t have these settings enabled automatically. So, familiarize yourself with your Android’s security settings and customize them to fit you. 

  • App permissions

When is the last time you checked your app permissions, if ever? It’s all too easy to skip over the permissions your apps ask for during installation.

Data giants like Facebook accrue masses of data through apps just like this. Just check the permissions your Facebook app requires to see how many ways they can collect data from your device. All with your permission!

Open the “Privacy” section of your settings to access the “Permission Manager”. Here you can deactivate any app permissions you deem unnecessary.

  • Consider using a password manager

Google’s inbuilt password manager is a good start for storing your passwords. For advanced security, settings, and better support – a dedicated password manager is a great service for protecting your personal passwords.

Similar to Google, other password managers often analyze your passwords for duplicates and weaknesses. Most allow offline storage for added accessibility and even offer suggestions for stronger passwords.

If you rather remain with Google, make sure to clean it out every now and then. Delete all those unused or compromised passwords.

Conclusion

Google is at the forefront of OS development as Android dominates the smartphone market. Yet, you can’t always trust your OS to protect your data from the big wide world. 

Adapt your smartphone practices to the current landscape of cybersecurity and introduce new and improved security protocols. Additionally, consistent updates will patch security issues in the cybersecurity framework.

With a few easy changes, your Android will remain safe, and your data – private.