Many marketing gimmicks against the Android OS label the platform as weak, and inherently insecure. We don’t know what Android they are talking about, but if it is the one from Google, those headlines are grossly exaggerated. We are going to talk about Android Security Features.
Don’t get us wrong. The Android OS is not some Fort Knox, and it could sure use some work if it is going to get better. However, it does come with a lot of safety features out of the box.
Now that we have that cleared, it wouldn’t hurt to beef up security yourself. If you think about it, anyone looking to attack your Android device already knows about the security features and how to circumvent it – meaning you might not stand a chance.
Default Android Security Measures
We did tell you that your Android device comes with some security features out of the box. Some of these are limited to the Android OS alone while some others are a feature of what your device manufacture looks to slap on the original ROM.
We will focus on the original Android package from Google as this is the one that contains the general tips.
1. App Install
Google already made the Play Store available for all games and apps that you might hope to download for your device. What you might not know is that the Play Store is not just a library of great apps and games, but a regulated library.
This means Google takes the time to look through all of the apps there to ensure they won’t hurt you or your device in any way. The moment you circumvent this by allowing the installation of apps from third-party sources (which is something Google allows for the sake of flexibility), you have breached one line of security.
Simply speaking, you can also install apps that you don’t know about their true origins nor how safe they are. These apps could contain malicious codes intended to serve as keyloggers, harvest your information in any other way or even take over your device.
2. App Protection
Yet another important feature that comes with the Google Play Store is an inbuilt malware scanner. As the name implies, it runs an automatic scan on all the apps you have on your phone to check if none of them contains malicious code of any kind.
Since Google is the company behind the main OS, they are in the best place to offer such a service that would work platform-wide. In the case a red flag pops up on your malware scan radar, it is time for such an app to go.
3. Find My Device
When you lose your Android phone or just don’t know where you put it anymore, remember that it comes with a Find My Device feature from Google which allows you locate, lock or make the device ring out loudly – even if it is on silent mode.
In the case you can’t find the device anymore, this feature also allows you to wipe off all the information and data on it. This is an especially great way to ensure your data does not fall into the wrong hands at any point in time. The good news is that you can get everything back on a new device, provided you backed up the old one.
What You Should Do Yourself
Now that you know Google got you covered in more ways than one, it is left to you to cover up the Achilles heels that they might have left exposed. Let’s show you how:
1. Install a VPN
VPNs are not just there to change your location at will. They are also important for tunnelling your data in such a way that it becomes unavailable to anyone looking in on your connection from the outside.
Embracing traffic encryption through a VPN for Android also makes it possible to ward off attacks based on browser fingerprinting, keeps you safe from man in the middle attacks and takes you out of the path of information gathering.
2. 2FA Activation
How does it feel to have two passwords (kind of) on a single account? Stronger than one, we believe. That is the importance of 2FA (Two-Factor Authentication).
The ideal place to apply 2FA will be the main Google account associated with your Android device (since that is the one that syncs and stores all of your data). You can go on to add it to other accounts that support such a feature though. Facebook and Instagram also support two-step verification.
The beauty of 2FA is that everyone can know the first password, but the second one is limited to only you. Furthermore, this second password is not something that can be crammed since the system generates it only on request, and is usually valid for only a few minutes.
Now you see why this is one of the best things to happen to your device security.
3. Tinker Less
Remember all the default security settings that come with your phone as above? Well, they were put there for a reason. It would be counterproductive to go against them and disable those features.
Keep everything as it is, and you have a better chance of ensuring your Android device is the tight ship you want it to be.