If you have an Android phone, you should take the time to ensure that it is adequately protected. Modern versions of Android have various security tools; although they ask you to configure the most critical ones at setup, it’s good checking them on a regular basis as well.
Let’s take a look at some of Android’s most important built-in security measures that everyone should be aware of. The images below are of stock Android 10; the functionalities on your smartphone may vary slightly.
1. Find My Device
Losing your gadget, whether when out and about or beneath the sofa, may be terrifying. In any of these cases, Google’s Find My Device (previously Android Device Manager) tool may assist you in locating your phone. It’s best to have everything in order before anything goes wrong.
To make sure it’s turned on, go to Settings > Security > Find My Device. You’re all set if the slider at the top is in the On position. Return to Settings > Location to ensure that your device may utilize your location for services such as this.
Go to Google’s Find My Device website in a browser where you’re logged in with your Google account to find your device. You may also use another Android phone to install the Locate My Device software, or just search Google for “find my device.”
You may use any of these choices to play a sound to help you find your phone in your home, safeguard it by locking and logging out, or wipe everything on it.
2. Google Play Protect
Play Protect is essentially an Android malware scanner. It is activated by default and checks your phone’s applications as well as new ones downloaded from the Play Store. While not flawless, it will help keep your smartphone safe from malicious programs.
To enable Play Protect, go to Settings > Security > Google Play Protect. You may perform a scan here and check when the previous scan was done. Turn on the device by tapping the gear symbol in the upper right corner. Scan applications using Play Protect to look for harmful apps that aren’t from the Play Store.
3. Lock Screen Security Options
Because your lock screen is your first line of protection against illegal phone use, it is critical that you safeguard it correctly. It is a necessary security check for Android.
If you haven’t already, use lock screen security. To alter or add a new option, go to Settings > Security > Screen lock. Depending on your device, you may also have the option of using Face or Fingerprint unlock.
If you want more information, we’ve compared Android unlock ways.
To alter a few related parameters, tap the gear icon next to Screen lock. The lock after screen timeout setting determines how long your screen remains locked after the display is turned off. We suggest setting this to Immediately or 5 seconds so that no one may access your device for lengthy periods of time.
You should also have control over what appears on your lock screen. To conceal sensitive notification information or all notifications on the lock screen, go to Settings > Privacy > Lock screen. Obscuring sensitive material, for example, will display the notification that you received a new text message while hiding its actual content.
4. Manage App Permissions
Apps that access critical information on your phone, such as your location and contacts, must request permission. It’s critical to examine what applications you’ve granted this access to on a frequent basis to avoid leaking personal information to apps that shouldn’t have it.
To examine permissions by category and control which applications may access them, click to Settings > Privacy > Permission manager. When you’ve chosen an app, click See all [app] permissions to see what else you’ve allowed it.
For additional information, see our complete guide to Android permissions.
5. Run Google’s Security Checkup
While this isn’t really an Android option, we’ve included it since your Google account is tightly linked to your Android device for logins and other uses. To obtain tips on how to safeguard your account, utilize Google’s security checkup.
To test it, go to Settings > Google and then choose Manage your Google Account at the top. Scroll down to Security and you should find a section called Security concerns discovered; hit Secure account here.
This will suggest methods to improve the security of your Google account, such as deleting outdated devices, enabling two-factor authentication (2FA), and restricting third-party app access. If you don’t already use 2FA, you should start now.
Go to the Google Security Checkup page to obtain the same tool on the web.
6. Use Safe Browsing in Chrome
Chrome, the default browser on most Android devices, provides a Safe Browsing option to filter out potentially hazardous websites. It should be enabled by default, but it’s worth double-checking to be sure.
Open Chrome, then hit the three-dot Menu icon in the top-right corner and choose Settings. Select Sync and Google Services and ensure Safe Browsing is enabled. You may also activate Warn you if credentials are exposed in a data breach to get an extra warning.
7. Don’t Allow Unknown Install Sources or USB Debugging
If you’re an expert Android user, you may have enabled two options that are both beneficial and offer significant security concerns.
The first step is to install programs from unknown sources. This, also known as sideloading, allows you to install APK files from anywhere, not only the Play Store. While useful, keeping this enabled allows programs to misuse the access. Unless you’re presently downloading a new program in this manner, you should deactivate the privilege.
For instructions on how to turn this off, see our guide on sideloading apps on Android.
USB debugging, on the other hand, enables your phone to interface with the Android SDK on your PC. You may use it to install applications on your phone and even conduct complex operations like as rooting.
However, same with sideloading, you should turn off USB debugging while not in use. If they get their hands on your phone, they might execute commands on it. For more information on how it works, see our USB debugging tutorial.
8. Emergency Info
Android allows you to add emergency contacts and other relevant information that first responders or others may access. It’s a good idea to set this up ahead of time, since it might save your life.
To set it up, go to Settings > About phone > Emergency information and enter your emergency contacts, medical information, and other information. You may also select to have this shown on your lock screen, which is useful for medical responders.
9. Lockdown Mode
Lockdown is a new feature included in Android 9. This enables you to instantly deactivate fingerprint, face unlock, and Smart Lock options as well as conceal all notifications on the lock screen. It’s ideal for when you want utmost protection on your smartphone, such as when you believe law enforcement may compel you to open it using your fingerprint.
Enable the Show lockdown option button in Settings > Display > Lock screen display. Then, to lock your phone, press and hold the Power button for a few seconds before tapping Lockdown. After that, you’ll need to enter your PIN or password to open your smartphone.
Keep Your Phone Safe and Private
We’ve examined the most crucial methods for keeping your Android phone safe right out of the box. You’ll have a far more secure device from numerous aspects with these settings, and you won’t even have to install anything additional.
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