For many of us, Android smartphones are never far from our hands. We use them all the time, whether to play games, check social media, or send vital work emails.
But here's the problem: whenever we use phones to connect to the internet, we face a range of security risks. From experiencing device lockdown due to a ransomware attack to hackers stealing our credit card details over unsecured WiFi, our phones are less safe than they seem.
This article will look at ways to solve your Android security issues. So read on if you have any worries about fraud, identity theft, or surveillance. We'll suggest some simple measures that can put your mind at ease.
1. Install a high-quality VPN
Let's lead off with the most important tip of all: download and use a Virtual Private Network you can trust.
VPNs encrypt every byte of data sent from your Android phone, and wrap it up in a protective "tunnel" – so any eavesdroppers will have to crack your encryption to access confidential information.
At the same time, VPNs provide smartphone users with an anonymous IP address. This could be located almost anywhere in the world, allowing you to surf the web without betraying your actual physical location.
This is a huge benefit when evading government surveillance or cybercriminals. Without a fix on the content of your data or your location and device details, they will hardly even notice your online presence.
However, we need to stress that not all VPNs are 100% effective. Some leak your IP address or frequently drop, leaving you without coverage. Others aren't optimized for the Android OS, which can compromise their effectiveness.
If you want a VPN you can rely on, visit VPNpro to find the best recognized VPN for Android devices.
2. Think about encrypting your phone
VPNs allow you to encrypt the data leaving your phone, but what about the data that is held on the hard drive? Most of us store documents, photos, and other confidential files on our phones. No-one wants to hand that kind of data over to thieves.
Moreover, if your phone is stolen, thieves can often use it to access online banking services or to make eCommerce purchases. Many apps link to credit card details, opening the door to instant fraud.
The only surefire way to avoid these problems (aside from locking your phone away and never taking it out of the house) is to use strong encryption for the entire contents of your Android device.
Fortunately, most recent Android OS builds come with encryption as a standard feature. Generally, this entails using Linux-based dm-crypt to encode your data and providing access via a PIN or pattern. Unless users have the right credentials, the phone remains locked, and the data is scrambled.
3. Tighten up your app game
Sometimes, we are our own worst enemies when it comes to using Android phones, and apps can be our biggest weakness.
For instance, when we download apps, we can choose to retrieve them from "unknown sources" or legitimate repositories like Google Play. While the latter are policed to keep out malware and other nasties, the former could contain anything. Yet we still download them.
You can minimize this risk by heading to your phone's "Settings" menu, and choosing to disable "unofficial" app downloads. Sure, you might miss out on some new apps, but that's a price worth paying.
4. Install a malware scanner just to make sure
Even so, all of us sometimes contract malware infections, no matter how careful we are. That's just an occupational hazard of using the modern internet. However, if you install a top-quality anti-malware package on your phone, you can drastically reduce the dangers of malware compromising your device.
Major companies like Avast, McAfee and Kaspersky have created Android-compatible scanners which stay resident and screen everything you download. Be cautious about using less well-known antivirus or anti-malware apps, though. While they may be free and enticing, there's a strong chance that these apps are themselves riddled with malware. It's a devious tactic, but it's all-too-easy to fall for fake app scams.
5. Get smart when using unsecured public wifi
Android security isn't all about installing the right software. The way we behave can also help to protect our smartphones from online dangers.
When we're talking about risky behaviour, one common practice stands out: using your phone carelessly on unsecured WiFi networks.
These networks may seem seductive, with the promise of free connectivity and convenient access to the web just when you need it. However, there's often a catch. Unsecured networks can be set up via fake routers or router hijacking, only to act as a honeypot for unsuspecting Android owners.
When you use these fake networks, hackers can harvest all kinds of information, from social media logins to your credit card details. And you may know nothing about it.
Because of this, it's really important to think twice before logging on to unknown networks. And, if you have to, use a VPN, encryption, and antivirus software to protect yourself as much as possible.
Teach yourself to become a safe Android user
While the online world is full of potential dangers, simply logging off and going back to pen and paper isn't an option. We need smartphones to communicate and work, and security issues shouldn't prevent us from doing so.
By implementing strong security measures, you can turn your phone into a fortress, and manage the risk of cybercrime, physical theft, and surveillance.