The demand of smart-phone is growing rapidly among all the age groups. Ease of online work due to apps makes it even more popular. It has become an essential and ubiquitous instrument in the people’s daily life.
But advancement in technology has also raised the issue of device security. There are many security threats to smart-phones and even worse the attack vectors are increasing day by day. So it’s very important to ensure smart-phone security. In this write up, we have discussed top 10 steps to enhance security and privacy of smart-phones especially Android devices.
Don’t save passwords on device’s browser:
Many users save their online passwords and login credentials on their device’s browser, without thinking about what would happen if the device gets compromised in the future. You should avoid this practice especially when it comes to payment or banking websites.
Use PIN / password instead of your fingerprint or face recognition:
You should lock your phone with a PIN or password. This step prevents un-authorized access to your phone and keeps your data private in case your phone gets stolen.
Use of PIN seems old fashioned but in term of security, it is still on top because if you are using other locking methods like fingerprint or face recognition - there is chance of leaking your biometric information which is stored on your phone. If an option of password is available then you should use unique and strong alphanumeric password in place of PIN.
Encrypt your device:
Another basic privacy step is to encrypt the device and it is the best way to keep your data private, in case your device gets stolen or hacked. It can be done from Setting >Security (or search “Encrypt Phone”) >Press Enable. And the most important thing is to remember the PIN otherwise all of the data may be lost.
Keep device’s software up to date:
It is very important to keep device’s software updated. Sometimes people skip the update notification. The un-patched vulnerabilities can then give hackers the room to steal your data. In case of Android phones, the system update can be done by navigating to Setting >About phone >System update.
Don’t install apps from unknown sources:
Always download apps only from Google’s play store or other trusted sources. Sometime your device may ask for permission to enable “unknown sources for app installation” then you should deny the permission, as it may be a malware. To disable installation of applications from unknown sources - Go to setting >Security >Unknown sources.
Check app permission carefully:
When you begin installation of an app, it often shows the list of permissions the app requires. Generally, the permissions are required to run the app smoothly but all of them may not be necessary. Always read and check all the permissions carefully before clicking the “Agree” button. E.g., calendar app asking for location permission, does not makes sense.
Also you may read comments, publisher information and reviews before downloading an app. To check the permissions granted move to – Settings >Apps >Icon >App permissions.
Hide notification from lock screen:
Turning off notifications on the lock screen makes Android device more private. Consider a case when someone picks your device at lock mode and sees some crucial notification on the lock screen. Therefore consider turning them off by navigating to – Setting >Notification.
Do not share location / GPS:
Some apps may require location to provide crucial services but many of these apps seek unnecessary permissions. So, you should prevent these apps from accessing your location unnecessarily.
Avoid use of Chrome browser and Google search:
In order to stay more secure and private, you should change your default browser and download an alternate one. This is because the default Google search engine collects a lot of intrusive information. However, this step may not be required unless you care too much about your privacy and security.
VPN (Virtual Private Network) gives you online privacy and creates private network between your device and the internet. It encrypts all the data passing between them. But you should choose a secure VPN provider, don’t go for free version as they may have security flaws or may be collecting and storing data about your browsing activities.
Avoid USB charging ports:
Try to avoid USB charging ports in public places because USB port is not simply a power socket, it can also be used to transfer and sync device data. In emergency cases, first turn off the device then plug it into the charging port. Alternatively, you should carry a personal power bank.
Note: Turn off all the connectivity if you are not using your service e.g., Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, internet connectivity etc as this make your device more secure.