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Android Security Guide: 9 Steps to Protect Yourself Against Cyberthreats

There are only two known mobile phone operating systems in the world – iOS and Android. Of these, Android is the most used mobile OS, and that is by far.

Considering the number of OEMs in the Android space, comparing that against the fact that Apple has a monopoly on the iOS and the price points too, the numbers for Android are not surprising.

However, the lack of support and other such issues means that more than one billion Android units are potential hack victims waiting to happen.

You don’t want this to be you, so we have created this comprehensive Android security guide.

1 Set Strong Passwords

Does your Android device come with biometric login features?

For some, this means that they can glance at their phone, and their face will unlock the device. Samsung even trialed the iris unlock on units like the Galaxy Note 8 – and they combined that with the face unlock system too.

The most common one that we find around these days is the fingerprint unlock system.

When these came, though, many users stopped giving much attention to their passwords. After all, you can set any password as long as you would only be unlocking the device with your biometric details, right? Wrong.

Should a hacker get a hold of your phone, they won’t hack your biometrics but password. This tells you how valuable a secure password is, and why that should never be traded for anything else.

2 Use 2FA

Android devices allow you to set up different accounts on the internet. Some (like mail and messaging) even come with the units out of the box.

When you have taken the advice above to set strong passwords, you should also enable two-factor authentication where possible.

A secure password aims to make it impossible for the hacker to get into your device and accounts. In the case that happens, though, the 2FA system is the last line of defense. This ensures that the hacker cannot get into the account with the password only, but would also need an additional login code that would be generated on your linked device.

Of course, this means that you keep the 2FA device safe, too lest the hacker has all they need in the same place.

3 Update Device

Firmware updates will come to your Android units from time to time. If you are not getting these at all, it might be time to change your desired OEM altogether.

When these updates come, they bring a lot of things with them. One of the most common is fixes for bugs and vulnerabilities that could otherwise have been exploited in the system.

That said, it is also worthy of note that Android is known for its monthly security updates. Google rolls it out for all Android devices to fix security problems every month, but the OEMs can decide which phones get it – and when.

This also tells you to go for a phone maker considering such updates as a priority so that you don’t stay vulnerable to hacks.

4 Update Apps

When you are not updating your device, your applications are yet another thing to look towards.

Sometimes, app developers will find out bugs and loopholes in their software, which could be exploited by hackers. When they fix this, they send out the patch in the form of updates to you.

That is why you should always download these updates as they are mostly to keep you safe.

That said, remember that the same updates could be to bring you new features – but you will be better off installing them instantly anyways.

5 Never sideload apps

Speaking of apps, we should discuss sideloading in the same breath.

Have you ever been to the Play Store in search of an app but did not find it there? There is a high chance that you will find the apps on other websites if you were to check. Some other times, wanting to get cheats to games or a premium app for free is what leads many Android users to download their apps outside of the Play Store.

What you might not have considered is that the Play Store is not only there to serve as a catalog for apps. The engineers in charge also have to verify all the apps that they let onto the Play Store to ensure they are safe for your usage.

When you choose to download from external websites instead, you are risking malware from these unchecked apps.

With malware, we bet you know that anything can happen, but it is never good.

6 Avoid Public Wi-Fi Networks

If possible, set your Wi-Fi to only connect to trusted networks. This will save you from walking the street and mistakenly connecting to that coffee shop’s Wi-Fi network.

Public Wi-Fi networks are neither secure nor encrypted. Thus, the data being transferred on them is not protected and can be seen by anyone who knows what they are looking for.

In the terms and conditions section of most public Wi-Fi network providers, you will see where they claim to have the right to monitor and collect your data as you use the network. If they are not even a threat, hackers who can do the same on the system should scare you.

These hackers can install malware on the Wi-Fi system, which is then downloaded to your computers. Again, no good news comes from having malware on your unit.

7 Download Security Apps

Since you cannot always be there to keep an eye on what happens at the system level of your phone, you might want to employ some Android police system to do that. Two of the best security apps that you can get are VPNs and antivirus software.

One is not independent of the other either, so don’t fall for that marketing gimmick.

Downloading a VPN for your Android device will encrypt your internet traffic whenever you connect to the internet. Even if you were on a public Wi-Fi network like we mentioned above, no one would be able to see your internet traffic any more. 

That will keep you anonymous on the network and prevent data hijacking, etc.

On the other hand, antivirus software will help ensure you don’t invite malware onto your unit. They also make it easier to trust documents/ files sent to you over the net since you can scan these files for malware first before downloading them.

8 Trusted Computer Connections

Data transfer between your device and a computer looks like such a routine task, but it is much more than that.

The instant you make that wired USB connection, an infected computer can also transfer malware to your Android device. Interestingly, the malware might be a silent one that will be on your device for long, and you would not even know.

The best way to get around this problem is to only connect to the devices you can trust. Likewise, it would not hurt to have an antivirus software at the ready if you must go down this path anyway.

9 Secure your browsers

Google is the parent company of Android, so it is no surprise that the devices come with Google Chrome out of the box. If you care about your data privacy and security, though, that might not be the best browser for you.

Seeing as browsers can allow tracker cookies that gather sensitive data about you as you use the web, they are a severe data issue. Likewise, you might have allowed your browser to save some password information, which must not fall into the wrong hands.

Before you think it, incognito mode and private browsing modes are not exempt either. While they will prevent the logging of your browsing history and cookies, they don’t disable network admins and ISP from seeing what you are doing on the network.

First things first, we recommend that you pick secure internet browsers with a better privacy focus. Even at that, always layer your internet connection over a VPN for the highest level of encryption and online security.

Final Words

Out of the box, Android comes with some critical privacy and security tools and features. The system does not allow you sideload apps unless you ask it to. Improved app permissions have also been at the heart of recent updates to the system.

However, what comes with the device out-of-the-box is not enough to secure you against current threats.

Applying the nine (9) tips above, though, you are on your way to getting better security.

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