Last updated on August 12th, 2017
Before we get to the important business of keeping your Android and its information safe, I’d like to take a moment to thank Tech Legends for the chance to reach out to its readers! This site is always a great read, and there’s so much info I often spend more time here than I mean to! To read more about Android privacy, check out this review of Privacy Wizard for Android or Top 4 Secure Messaging Apps for your Smartphone, but be sure you don’t miss all the great gaming information around here!
Android is the most popular mobile operating system, making it a prime target for hackers. After all, the more people you can reach with one security flaw, the more damage you can do. If you’re an Android user, how do you protect yourself? how do you keep Android secure? Let’s take a look at eight ways you can increase your smartphone’s defenses.
All of the pointers below are surprisingly easy, so there’s no reason to cut corners with mobile security!
1. Think before you click.
This is the most basic internet safety tip. All the technology in the world can’t circumvent making uninformed choices that put you at risk. If you get an email from a friend that sounds as if someone else wrote it, or you’re told you won a PlayStation 4, don’t click!
2. Don’t download suspicious apps.
Apps from services you’ve heard of—such as Facebook and Amazon—are almost always safe to download, since they go through a rigorous testing process funded by legitimate sources. However, there are lots of apps from less well-known companies and organizations that are also perfectly safe. It can never hurt to Google the app’s developer and see what comes up. If the company doesn’t seem to be legitimate, avoid the app.
Take a second to read the reviews before you download an app. Real users will leave reviews with both negative and positive points. Obviously, don’t download an app that lots of people have complained about, but don’t download one that seems too good to be true either.
Before you download an app, there’s one more thing to consider.
3. Read app permissions.
The number one sign of an untrustworthy app is asking for permissions it doesn’t need. For example, a map application might need your location so it can help you find your destination, but why would it need to access your pictures?
If an app asks you for permissions that it doesn’t need to function, stay away.
4. Stay up-to-date.
If your operating system and apps aren’t up-to-date, you might be missing out on important security fixes, leaving you exposed to threats that have already been dealt with.
On Android, you can update your operating system by going to the Settings menu and then navigating to About Phone. From there, it should be easy to find the option to update. Before you do so, however, you may want to back up your contacts and photos just to be safe.
Be careful. A common trick hackers and spammers use to get you to download malware is by sending you fake update notifications. Luckily, these are easy to avoid on Android. Just never download an update from anywhere that isn’t the Google Play store.
5. Get an anti-virus app.
There are lots of apps that will help protect you against malware, and many of them come from industry leaders that you’re probably familiar with. PC Mag offers you a curated list of the best anti-virus apps to choose from!
6. Don’t use public WiFi.
When you use public, unsecured WiFi, people can grab your information as easily as if you were shouting at the next table in a restaurant.
If a network is secure, you would have had to sign in with a password before connecting. If you need to double-check, you can access your network’s information by tapping the WiFi button under the Settings menu.
You can get away with using public WiFi only if you make the smart decision we’re going to address in our next point.
7. Use a VPN.
Subscribing to a Virtual Private Network (VPN) service is always a good choice. A VPN works by creating a secure tunnel between the source of data and its destination.
The technology was originally invented so that people who work remotely could access company networks from any location, but now it’s put to a number of uses, such as dodging geo-blocking, safely pirating media, and preventing hackers from being able to access most of your information.
There are lots of VPN options, but it’s best to avoid the free ones, since often they rely on shoddy business practices.
8. Don’t jailbreak or root your phone.
If you don’t know what that means, then you’re safe, because it’s something you have to do on purpose to change the way your phone works. When you jailbreak your phone, or get root access, you gain access to all of your phone’s systems and files. There are a few reasons someone might want to do this, but unless you’re very sure of what you’re doing, you’re just going to open yourself up to more security threats.
What are you doing to keep your Android device safe? Do you have a favorite app that’s indispensable to your daily security upkeep? Tell us!
* If you find any kind of error in this article, do let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org