It’ no surprise that our smartphones, that we carry everywhere stores our conversations, photos/videos, contacts, passwords, and other sensitive data as well. When you have such a vulnerable device carrying so much sensitive data, it becomes crucial to secure it, to ensure no one steals your data. It’s important because if someone manages to get their dirty hands on your unsecured phone, they can easily see all your data and may even use it against you.
Thus, you need to take the right measures to secure your phone and ensure that no one accesses your data, even if they get their hands on your phone. If you are an Android user, you can take several measures to protect your phone and ensure your data stays private, both online and offline. To help you out, we are listing the best ways to keep your privacy intact on Android:
1. Add Reliable Security to the Lockscreen
A strong security on your Android smartphone’s lockscreen is the first step to maintaining your privacy on your Android. Unfortunately, many of us still use a swipe to unlock our smartphones, which offers zero security. Well, the least you can do is enable Pin, Password or Pattern security on your phone’s lock screen to ensure that no one can access your data (at least not easily).
To add a security lock, go to your Android Settings->Security. Here, you should see an option of “Screen Lock”, tap on it and you will see all the options to add security to your phone’s lock screen. Pin, Password and Pattern protection are available on almost all Android smartphones, but you may find other advanced securities based on your phone; like voice detection or fingerprint scanner or even an iris scanner.
There are also many lockscreen replacement apps that will let you further protect your Android device.
2. Encrypt Device Data
Android also comes with a built-in encryption feature to encrypt all of your data making it impossible for anyone to access your data without the right password. To encrypt your phone, go to Settings->Security and here, tap on “Encrypt Phone” and you will then see all the details to go ahead.
Before you encrypt your device, there are few things you should know:
- Encryption cannot be undone and once the data is encrypted, you will have to factory reset (delete all the data) the phone to remove encryption.
- It could take more than an hour to encrypt your device and you will need your device to have more than 80% battery just to start the process.
- If your phone turns off during the encryption process, all your data could be lost.
- Encryption may also slow down your phone, as your data needs to be decrypted every time you access it. However, the difference isn’t too much and on high-end phones, it is not noticeable.
3. Manage App Permissions
This is a little dark side of apps that many Android users carelessly agree to. Sometimes apps may ask for permissions to access data that isn’t even required for the app to work. Usually this is done by app developers to sell your data to ad companies and make revenue. For instance, why would a flashlight app ask for permission to control your Wi-Fi or access your Google account?
The point is, you need to be wary of the permissions an app is asking for and whether you are comfortable with it or not. If your Android device is running Android 6.0, you can easily manage the app permissions but if your device is running an older version of Android, you will have to either live with the app permissions or don’t use the app.
On Android 6.0 device, you can just head over to Settings->Apps and select the app and tap on “Permissions” to check out its permissions. Here, you can turn off permissions that you don’t want the app to access. Android Lollipop and older versions with root access can use the app App Opps to manage app permissions.
4. Take Advantage of Android Device Manager
Android Device Manager lets you see the exact location of your device, and also remotely set off an alarm, ring phone or erase data, if it is connected to a network. This is perfect for recovering your phone or saving your data from wrong hands, in case your device gets lost or stolen.
Android Device Manager should be enabled by default on your device but you should still confirm it. To do it, go to Settings->Google (on Android 6.0 or later) or Google Settings app (older Android versions) and tap on “Security“. Here, just make sure the Android Device Manager options are enabled.
To track the phone or send remote commands, you can go to Android Device Manager web portal using a smartphone or PC and easily see your phone’s last location and send commands.
5. Avoid Apps from Unknown Sources
To be on the safer side, try to only download apps from the Google Play Store or other reliable app stores. These stores thoroughly check all apps being hosted there and ensure they are free from any malware and malicious code. If you download an app from other sources — like APKs from third-party websites — these apps could be infected with malware.
For instance, Pokemon GO APKs were recently very popula due to the fact that the popular game wasn’t available in all the countries. Well, reports suggested that hackers were quick to infect Pokemon Go APKs with malware. Any such download could easily lead to getting your phone hijacked, so we will recommend you to always download apps from Google Play Store and other legit stores, including Pokemon Go; considering there’s a way to install it from the Play Store even if it’s not available in your country.
On top of that, always keep “Unknown Sources” option disabled in Settings->Security. This should prevent downloads from any unreliable sources.
Android Apps To Protect Your Privacy
There are various Android apps that are dedicated to protect your privacy both offline and online. We are going to list down few of the good ones:
1. Signal Private Messenger
You may not know but all the text messages you send to people can easily read by carriers, and even the government is known to read text messages. I am sure this will not make you comfortable if you are having a private conversation. This is where secure messaging apps will help you by encrypting your connection and making it impossible for anyone to snoop on.
Signal is one such free and open source messaging app that lets you send encrypted messages to your friends and even have group conversations that cannot to seen or read by anyone. It will also let you make encrypted calls, so that no one eavesdrops on your calls. Best of all, you can even send media and documents to people with complete end-to-end encryption.
2. Avast Mobile Security & Antivirus
Although malwares and viruses are not a huge risk on Android, you should always take caution. There are many antivirus apps available for Android, but Avast Mobile Security is a great all-in-one package. Avast Mobile Security will scan your phone for any malware and also settings & apps that could lead to a privacy breach, such as the USB debugging option.
Along with that, it also comes with an app locker, Wi-Fi security checker, Wi-Fi speed tester and a performance booster.
Install: (Free with in-app purchases)
3. Betternet Free VPN
VPNs are the best way to keep your online privacy intact. A VPN will make you anonymous online by encrypting all the traffic, so that no one will be able to track your browsing sessions. However, it is important to get a good VPN app, that is fast and reliable. Betternet is a great free VPN service that doesn’t puts any data limitations (unlike most other VPNs) and offers fast connection. Although it doesn’t lets you change your location in the free version, it should work fine for most users.
Apps in your phone contain all of your private data, so you should lock them to add an extra layer of security. AppLock is an amazing free app locker that will lock all system and third-party apps with a password or pattern lock. It also comes with cool features like hiding the apps, fake message on launch and other cool tricks to keep your apps safe.
Install: (Free with in-app purchases)
5. Clueful Privacy Adviser
Clueful is like your personal privacy adviser that lets you know how apps are using your data and how your privacy might be at risk. The app is offered by popular antivirus program developers BitDefender and uses BitDefender cloud scan to check all the apps risking your privacy. The app brings you an overall score of your device’s privacy and tells you how much of a risk an app is, to your privacy. A perfect app for any privacy conscious person.
Secure your Android smartphone’s privacy
In today’s online world, privacy could be something to laugh about, and the only thing we can do, is make it hard for people to steal our data. If you are concerned, you can follow the above privacy steps to ensure your privacy remains intact on your Android smartphone. If you have any tips on privacy on Android that we might have missed out on, share with us in the comments section below.