Lately the tech world news seems full of potential threats to the security of Android phones. In July, a mobile security expert warned that 950 million Android devices could be affected by a vulnerability in the media playback tool, Stagefright. Joshua Dranke from Zimperium zLabs reported that the hack could be executed through a simple multimedia text that would let the attackers write code into the device and steal data.
Then in September, a security analyst from the University of Texas found that the Android version 5’s password lock could be bypassed by entering a long string of characters. Both vulnerabilities were identified before an attack was launched, and Google provided patches to correct the issues.
Nonetheless, these warnings brought the issue of security to the forefront for many Android owners. To help keep your own Android device protected, implement the following tips and tools.
1. Avoid automatically saving passwords on your device. Click “no” when a box pops up that asks if you want the browser to remember the password, especially for banking or payment apps. Automatic logins are convenient for you but also for anyone else who gets a hold of your device.
2. Do not use public Wi-Fi when transmitting sensitive information. If you use public Wi-Fi, a hacker can potentially access information such as passwords or bank account numbers. Similarly, disable the Android’s automatic connection option to prevent the phone from transmitting data without your knowledge.
3. In case your device is hacked or stolen, you should regularly backup your data. If you have a backup, even if you lose your phone, you won’t lose all of your information with it.
4. Lock your device. The Android allows you to implement a pin, password or pattern swipe locks. Although there are patches to correct the threat to the password lock, to be safe, implement a pin or pattern lock.
5. Be careful to download apps only from a trusted source, such as Google Play. The only way to get malware on your phone is if you install it yourself, and the most common vehicle is through malicious apps. Also, be sure to check the privacy settings on any apps, denying access to sensitive information like text messages and location.
1. Install a wireless proximity alarm system, such as the iFi Systems Smart Tag. These devices with corresponding apps let you know when your phone is more than a pre-set distance from the device.
2. Use a secure mobile wallet like Lifelock Wallet to store all of your important cards (ID, insurance, payment and loyalty cards) on your Android. The Lifelock Wallet offers Lost Wallet protection, which helps users quickly cancel or replace lost or stolen credit or debit cards, Social Security and insurance cards, as well as providing cloud storage for digital copies of your cards.
3. Provide an extra layer of protection by installing a free app like App Lock. Use this app to pin or pattern lock secure data in apps like email, banking apps or file managers.
4. Although Androids are not prone to viruses, install an anti-virus just to be extra safe. After first checking whether your device already includes an antivirus, consider using an app like 360 Security-Antivirus Boost, Anti-Virus or TrustGo’s Antivirus & Mobile security app.