Practically, we could consider our Smartphone as one more limb of our body. And this is not an exaggeration, as it accompanies us at all times, and even enters the bath and is in bed with us.
Cyber security is something to worry about. If you’re using Google operating system, review the list of recommendations described below to see if you can improve the security of the information stored on your device.
1. Set up a PIN on the SIM card
As with the iOS devices, this PIN prevents unauthorized access to the mobile phone services associated with the SIM card. If this key is unknown, it is only possible to make emergency calls to numbers such as 112.
Android allows you to set a PIN code for the SIM card with a value between four and eight digits. To change the PIN of our device, you must access the Settings menu > Security > SIM Card Lock > Change the PIN of your SIM card.
It is recommended to use a sequence of numbers that is not predictable, that is, excluding values such as 0000, 1111 or 1234, and preferably use 8 digits.
2. Set an access code
To prevent our device from being used by an unauthorized person, it is advisable to configure a code to block unauthorized access to the phone and, therefore, also to its communications, applications, data… Depending on the device model, you can set different ways of locking, such as patterns, PIN codes, passwords or biometric fingerprint detection.
Here’s how to block your mobile phone by setting an unlock pattern. This option is available from Settings > Security > Screen Lock.
3. Configure automatic lock
It is possible to prevent access to our device by setting time for automatic locking.
The time for the phone screen to lock is set using the Settings menu > Security > Screen lock > Lock timer. As you can see in the image, it is possible to choose between different periods of time to automatically lock the device. You can also use the Smart lock feature if it is available on the phone.
4. Permissions in applications
As in iOS, Android also allows you to deactivate the permissions of installed applications on your device, as in some cases they request more permissions than those necessary for their proper operation.
Android allows you to disable permissions for installed applications from the Settings menu > Applications. For example, in the case of Google Maps, the permissions that can be enabled or disabled are the ones that are shown below.
5. Encryption of data
Our mobile device contains numerous important information, both personally and professionally, so it is recommended that it be encrypted. To encrypt the device, you need to access the Settings > Security > Encrypt phone option. You can also encrypt the SD card by clicking on Encrypting SD card storage, also available from the Security option. Some Android phones only have the option for encrypting phone data.
The coding is based on the strength of the password used to encrypt the data. That is why it is advisable to use a strong and not predictable password, such as our name or date of birth.
6. Disable connections when you do not use them
There are numerous attacks based on intercepting communications, so it is advisable to enable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth networks only when necessary. To activate or deactivate the Wi-Fi connection, we can access the Settings menu > Networks.
If we keep the Wi-Fi connection permanently enabled, it is possible that our device connects to unreliable wireless networks. In addition, a vulnerability called BlueBorne has been discovered and it affects millions of devices, and can cause an attacker to infect our device by just having the Bluetooth connection enabled. Activate or deactivate your connection depending on the needs you have from Settings > Networks.
It is also advisable to keep the location of the device deactivated to prevent installed applications and different web services from using our geographic information without our consent. To enable or disable location, we can go to the Settings > General > Location menu.
7. Remove data from the mobile device when done with
Android allows you to remove all device data from Settings > Backup and reset. It is important to remove all the information from the phone when we change it for another or we when we give it to another person, since our devices have a large number of private information.
In addition, it is important to make a backup of our data, in case of loss or theft of the device, we will still have the data of the telephone. To do this, you must access the Data Backup option from the menu item mentioned above.
8. Download Google Play Store apps
Android users can install applications from platforms or web pages that could be infected with ‘malware’, so to reduce the likelihood of infection, it is advisable not to install ‘apps’ from unknown sources.
To reduce the risk of our device becoming infected, you can deactivate the Unknown Sources box and check Verify applications. The two tools are available from the Settings > Security menu.
9. Keep your mobile updated
To prevent our mobile from having known vulnerabilities that may be used by attackers, it is important to keep the applications of our device updated to the latest version. To do this, open the Google Play Store app, and then press Menu > Settings.
‘Apps’ can be updated automatically based on two configurations available: at any time, so it will do so whether you are using a Wi-Fi connection or mobile data, or only through Wi-Fi, so applications ‘will be updated only when the device is connected to a network of that type.
Applications can also be updated individually from the ‘My Applications and Games menu,’ within the Google Play Store.
Those applications that are not updated include the Update option, as shown:
In the same way, it is very important to keep the Android version up to date with the latest available to get a safer device and operating system. Go to Settings > About phone > System update.
10. Do not ‘root’ the cell phone
‘Rooting the ‘smartphone’ exposes the mobile to the bad practices of third parties. In addition, there are several disadvantages that are consequences of this process: it eliminates the manufacturer’s warranty, the security of all the stored data is diminished, or it may even happen that the phone becomes unstable and even useless if the process is not made in a correct way.
11. Practice Screen pinning
Screen pinning will help you a lot when you give somebody your Smartphone to hold for a moment. For example, if you give a friend your phone to look at some photos, you can pin the screen of your gallery so that he or she is not able to open another application or interface on the phone. If they know how to unpin a screen the phone will lock automatically when they try to do so.
To put screen pinning on go to Settings menu > Security > Screen pinning.