How To: Protect Your Privacy On A New Android Phone

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Android is a great operating system with a broad range of useful features, but like any other OS, it's not capable of efficiently protecting your privacy if you're not careful. Just like no amount of encryption can make a difference if people are using passwords like "1234" and "password," no Android security patch can replace a healthy degree of caution and vigilance. With that in mind, here are some crucial tips for protecting your privacy on your brand new Android phone or just making sure your data is secure on your old device.

For starters, the moment you power on your Android phone for the first time, you should turn on its Lock Screen feature. Even if you aren't bothered by the idea of someone picking up your smartphone and going through your messages, emails, and Internet history, an unlocked device is every phone thief's dream, and you surely don't want to make their life easier in an unfortunate event your device gets stolen. So, making sure your phone isn't accessible to anyone who picks it up is a natural first step towards protecting your privacy on an Android device. While unlocking a smartphone with a pattern or a PIN can be bothersome, a lot of contemporary devices pack a convenient fingerprint sensor that's quite good at identifying spoofing techniques and will only react to your very own finger.

Furthermore, if you've got your hands on a device running Android 6.0 Marshmallow or newer, you're able to grant or revoke service permissions to apps in a rather simple manner. Each time you install a new app, you'll be asked to give it all or some of the permissions it requires, and you can also change your mind at any time by navigating to the Apps menu of your Settings app. As most apps need at least some permissions to work, make sure you inspect their privacy policies before carelessly giving them everything they want, especially when you're installing apps from unknown developers. That isn't to say all Android developers are trying to sell your data to advertisers or worse, but if a random Angry Birds clone is asking to access your contacts, make sure you know what the app is planning to do with that privilege. Sure, not everyone is equally determined to protect their privacy completely, but it's still important to learn what third-party apps want to do with your data before you hand it over to them.

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Finally, protecting one's privacy on an Android phone is hardly possible when that device is filled with pirated apps. This point isn't here to reiterate how it's both illegal and morally wrong to pirate apps, you already know it is. No, it's to remind you that a lot of pirated Android apps are packed with all kinds of malware made by people looking to profit from users that are installing illegal copies of apps for one reason or another. While the Google Play Store and other legitimate Android app stores aren't completely immune to software infused with malware, such cases are extremely rare. So, if you care about your data not being stolen by a malicious piece of code, refrain from both pirating apps and installing APKs from sources you're not familiar with.