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How to protect your Android device

Android is the most popular mobile platform in India. One of the major reasons for its popularity is the flexibility it offers in terms of customization and the abundance of third-party apps.

Apps can even be side-loaded, bypassing Google’s Play Store app marketplace. However, all this also makes Android vulnerable to security threats and malware.

Use a screen lock

The most basic security measure for every Android device, a screen lock allows you to guard the device by using a pattern, PIN or password.

The lock can be activated through the Android device’s Security Settings. Following the activation of the lock, the device can be set to lock automatically after a specific time period or by pressing the Power key.

Encrypt your device

Android allows you to encrypt all the data on your device. You’ll need to key in a password or PIN each time the device is turned on to decrypt all the data.

If the phone gets into the wrong hands, there’s no way to access the data without a password or PIN if the device is restarted. This way, your sensitive data stays safe though the device becomes a little slow.

It can be activated through the Android device’s Security Settings

Using personal device for work? Talk to IT

According to security solutions firm ESET, around 30-40% of devices in workplaces are vulnerable to threats unless users are educated about risks.

If you plan to use your personal device for work, check with your workplace’s IT team before configuring it to access and store work related data.

Activate Google’s Android Device Manager

Even if you lose your device, the Android Device Manager feature allows you to track a (connected) device on Google Maps.

It also enables you to ring the device at full volume for five minutes and even erase all the data.

To verify if it’s enabled, you can go to the Settings menu on your device and tap on Security. It can be enabled through the Device Administrators setting under Security Settings

Don’t store sensitive data on SD cards

Make sure you don’t store sensitive information such as copies of credit cards and personal IDs on external storage cards since it is easy to remove them and access the data stored.

If you need to store important information, keep it on internal storage

Don’t install apps from unknown sources

While apps on the Google Play Store are not curated as diligently as Apple’s App Store, it is still the safest place to download and install apps on Android platform.

Installation files (APKs) sourced from third-party sites should be dealt with caution as they might hide malware or spywar

Install locks for apps

You can use additional protection for apps like Gallery and Messaging to protect private data.

A number of apps are available on Play Store that offer an additional level of protection for individual apps. Such apps ask you to set up a password or PIN code that needs to be entered whenever you open the particular protected apps

Don’t root your phone

By rooting your phone, you can install custom Android ROMs and even some incompatible apps.

However, apps with root access get unhindered access to your device’s file-system, exposing it to more damage in case a malicious app is installed. It also voids your phone’s warranty

Sign out or use incognito mode while browsing

Remember to sign out of Chrome while browsing the web on an Android device or use incognito mode, especially if you share devices and PCs.

Chrome records your search and browsing history and syncs it across all devices on which you’ve signed-in.

Keep your device software up to date

Google releases software updates that also include several security patches.

Check for software updates using the device Settings, where you’ll find a System Updates option in the About Device menu.