Have you ever wondered why viruses and malware are such a rare occurrence on Android? Yes, a big bad virus scare will circulate the internet every once in a while, but does it really happen that often?
Self-replicating, PC-like malware is extremely rare on Android, and most security breaches come from (oh the surprise) human error.
The truth is, this Linux-based smartphone OS comes pre-packed with layers of protection. Some are on by default, some aren’t, and some great security features can be pretty easy to miss.
So let’s talk about them!
1. Permission Manager
No matter if you are getting a new phone or you want to enhance the security of your current one – app permission manager should be your first stop. What’s more, you should revisit this setting every once in a while if you want it to reach its full potential. This security feature gives you a clear overview of the permissions all the apps on your phone have.
This is what you should do:
- Go to Settings
- Either search for or manually find the Permission manager (usually located in the privacy tab)
- Scroll through what you find important and edit the permissions yourself. No, that puzzle video game does not need access to your camera!
*You can also set direct permissions per app by finding the application you want to change in the Apps part of the settings.
While our data is virtually completely safe within our phones, apps are not that impenetrable. Setting up a 2-factor Authentication system, especially when it comes to your Google/Gmail account, is paramount!
So, bring up the system settings and go to Manage Google Account, find the 2FA feature, and simply follow the steps.
If your main Google account gets compromised, who knows what else can be collected from it. So, set up 2FA and secure your credentials with strong passwords as well (you can use additional applications to help with password security too).
3. Updates, Updates, Updates!
Most phones keep themselves updated without us even noticing it. However, when major system updates are being deployed, you may have to manually allow them. The thing is, besides UI changes and bug fixes, system updates bring security patches and you shouldn’t skip them.
No matter how tedious you find this, allow your phone the 10 minutes (give or take) to update and reboot.
4. Smart Lock
Since the rise of wireless consumer tech, Smart Lock has been a lifesaver for gadget users. It was designed to alleviate the pressure of constantly unlocking your phone.
Essentially, you can set up a system based on your habits or on the Bluetooth devices you use often. You’ll find the Smart Lock feature in the Lock Screen section of the settings menu. Set your device to unlock itself while you’re at home, or while your smartwatch is in range. The possibilities are endless, but some caution is advised if you’re often in crowded spaces.
5. Lock Screen Notification Control
While you are in the Lock Screen part of the settings, you can change how your phone shows the notifications on it. You don’t want anyone to be able to read the first part of your emails and DMs, right?
You can choose to omit the content of all notifications entirely by leaving the Icons Only toggled. Or you can choose a smart preview that allows you to see the app pinging you, only without showing its content before unlocking.
6. Screen Pinning
You hand your phone to a friend to show them a picture you took last night, and you see them start scrolling through apps and everything.
This is where Screen Pinning jumps to the rescue!
Once you enable Screen Pinning in the Security section of the settings tab, you get to set your phone to show exclusively the app you want it to. Until you unlock the phone, no one will have access to anything besides the designated app. This works like a charm if you let kids play with your phone often.
This goes without saying – biometrics are an awesome security layer added to virtually every smartphone. Biometrics became mainstream only a few years ago, and the convenience of it got the majority of Android users onboard.
Whether it’s a scan of your face or the imprint of your fingertip, you get to lock/unlock your phone in a unique way. While these features can add a second or two to unlocking your phone, they are more than convenient.
And for the skeptics out there…
8. Lockdown Mode
In case you are worried that someone might exploit your biometrics, aka face-scanning you while you’re asleep – Lockdown Mode is the solution.
Essentially, when enabled, it shuts off all biometric ways of unlocking the phone, leaving you the option of PIN, pattern, or password. Once enabled, you will find Lockdown Mode in the shutdown menu (power button long press).
9. Find My Device
The name of the feature is self-explanatory as is – all you have to do is set it up. Some Android brands, like Samsung, have their own apps for this, but Google’s Find My Device has one little advantage – it groups all your registered devices into a single control point.
So, if you happen to lose your Android phone, you can use another Android device, or even your PC, to find it.
10. Common Sense
Lastly, common sense isn’t a feature in the settings section, but it is crucial to your Android device’s security. Be mindful of the unofficial apps you install, keep your OS updated, as well as your passwords, and set up features like Find My Device and 2FA ASAP!
You Don’t Need Much to Keep Your Android Safe
The more you get to know your Android smartphone, the safer you’ll be able to make it – and by extension, your data will be secure too.
While your data is pretty secure thanks to the default security settings, adding that extra touch of security can’t hurt. It’s finally time we all familiarize ourselves with that little “settings cogwheel” in the corner!