5 Ways To Make Your Android Phone Impenetrable

Security for Android phones and tablets has become a center of conversation after news outlets discovered just how easy it was to exploit certain loopholes. While the newest Android OS might have patched up some of the holes, not all phones can upgrade to it. What’s more, even the latest smartphones do not receive immediate updates, making millions of devices susceptible to hacks.

Due to the amount of personal information stored on these phones, hackers have now shifted their interest from desktop attacks to mobile. While the well-known threats such as ransomware, phishing, malware and spam are still the same, smartphone users have to deal with a host of new threats like theft and unnecessary app permissions. So how can you keep yourself safe from these threats?

Secure Your Lock Screen

This might seem like common sense, yet the majority of smartphone users do not even have a PIN on their lock screen. Many people have confidence they will never lose their phone or that if they do, they can remotely wipe it. While it’s good to have a positive mindset, sometimes things happen that are out of your control. Something as simple as a PIN or other lock screen mechanisms can be an effective way to deter criminals from hacking your device should it be lost or stolen. Additionally, the functionality is already built into your phone.

Avoid Sideloading Apps

One of the reasons many people prefer Android over Apple is its open market. You can find apps outside of the Google Play store and install them on your phone. While this might sound convenient, especially if the app isn’t available on the store, it makes your phone that much more vulnerable.

This is the main way many hackers gain access to a victim’s smartphone. They offer a pirated version of an app and then infect it with malware. Once downloaded, Android doesn’t check the app for any viruses or other concerning features. Even if you have security apps installed, many do not scan every app installed or monitor your Web traffic. Those that docome at a cost that is best avoided.

The best thing to do is avoid sideloading apps altogether. However, if you really want access to Samsung or Amazon’s proprietary store, you will need to sideload it. In that case, only download apps from trusted sources.

Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN)

VPNs aren’t just for desktops anymore. You can also take advantage of the service for your mobile device. In fact, it’s more important to use it for your smartphone as you will connect to more insecure networks than on your desktop or laptop. Consider how often you have connected to public WiFi. It is a great portal for hackers to gain access to your information, as public networks are not very secure. Using a VPN can encrypt your data to keep you anonymous from potential cybercriminals making your information difficult (if not impossible) to read if they intercept it.

Encrypt Your Phone

If you want to keep your information safe, the best thing to do is physically encrypt the data on your phone. This protects all of the data on your phone until you put in your decryption password. You don’t even need an app to do this either. Simply navigate to your security settings and turn on encryption. Before you decide to take this step keep in mind the following:
Full device encryption will slow down your performance. While not noticeable on higher-end phones, it could pose a problem for those using budget phones.
You cannot undo encryption. If you want to turn it off, you will have to restore your phone to its factory settings.

Manage App Permissions

Whenever you download an app from Google Play, a pop-up window appears to show you what the app wants access to. Many people do not pay attention to these permissions. Taking that into consideration, it’s an important step to verify that the app does not require more access to your phone than necessary.

Generally, most apps have a good reason to access certain facilities. A messaging app might want access to your camera and contacts so you can take pictures and send to your friends and family. A game might require your location to compete against other people in the area. With that said, if you can’t find a reason an app needs to access these facilities, then it’s a good idea not to install it. Ask yourself, does a currency converter need access to my contacts?

Android Marshmallow also gives you further control over app permissions. You can control what they can and cannot access even after you install it.

Of course, the best way to keep your Android smartphone secure is to take the necessary personal precautions such as not downloading suspicious apps or clicking on potential spam sites and emails.

How do you keep your phone secure? Tell us in the comments below.

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