If you use at least one Android handset, you might want to consider securing the stored data, as it can easily fall into the wrong hands. Google’s mobile OS is known to be targeted a wide array of malware and vulnerabilities that drain data or sign you up as a zombie in a botnet. Scared? You don’t have to be, because being a little paranoid about security could save you a world of trouble.
1. A Mobile Security Solution is your First Line of Defense
Smartphones should be treated as full-fledged PCs, because they’re sometimes as powerful and as practical as a desktop. Since your first line of defense on a PC is an antivirus solution, it makes sense that you’d protect your smartphone the same way. A mobile antivirus solution scans every app that you install, regardless of where you downloaded it from, and warns you whether it’s malicious or whether it’s packed with annoying aggressive adware. Just by checking Google Play for antivirus vendors you will soon realize that Android is quite vulnerable to malware.
2. Don’t Trust Hotspots and Wi-Fi Networks
The number one security risk is using free hotspots or Wi-Fi networks that are either exploited by an ill-meaning individual or can easily be hacked into. Going through a router is like allowing someone to peak at your exam paper. He’s able to know exactly what website you’re visiting, what login passwords you use, along with any other data you send from your smartphone.
If you’re doing browser e-banking or if you’re logging into your Facebook account via unsecured Wi-Fi networks or hotspots, you may also risk being redirected to malware-serving websites and even be tricked into installing spying or data-stealing Trojans.
Of course, if you really can’t help yourself, you might want to use a VPN service. Make sure you use it whenever your spidey sense is tingling. Thankfully, Android OS easily supports VPN and it only takes a couple of minutes to get it up and running.
3. Choose Your Apps, Don’t Let Them Chose You
Drive-by attacks are a common infection vector for disseminating malware to both smartphones and PCs. Imagine visiting a website and then being asked to upgrade your Flash Player by downloading an apk file named “FlashPlayerUpdate.apk”. Naturally, most of you won’t hesitate, and, in fact, you’ll be installing a malicious app that can perform all types of devious activities.
This is an unfortunate example of how drive-by attacks work, but you can avoid this by unchecking the “Allow installation of non-Market applications” option from the Applications menu, under Settings. Not only will you thus prevent third-party apps from being installed, but you’ll also make sure that everything you install has been approved by Google’s crawler first.
4. Don’t Root!
While some experts believe that rooting your Android handset will give you complete control over its running processes, imagine what would happen if some malware would have the same privileges. Default privileges and restrictions might make it difficult, if not impossible, for malware to install without your consent. While the average user is encouraged not to tinker with his Android device, developers might have enough reasons to do it, as they should be more knowledgeable about how they work. In other words, leave rooting to pros and stick to default settings if you don’t want to end up with a bricked device or become a victim of malware.
5. Let’s Get Physical
Securing your device from software threats is simple, provided you follow the guidelines. But what happens when you lose it or it gets stolen? When an attacker to physically have your device, it makes it easier to collect every bit of information stored on it. Installing an anti-theft solution would not only prevent a would-be perp from reading your emails or browsing through your gallery, but would also enable tracking the location of your device.
By using its GPS signal, you can triangulate its location with pinpoint accuracy and confront the heister – with a police escort. Of course, you can also encourage him to give it back by locking the device with a unique PIN and sending him direct messages that are automatically displayed on the device’s screen. However, if you think it’s too much trouble to get your device back, simply issue a remote wipe command and be done with it. That way the mugger won’t access your data and you’re safe from seeing any embarrassing photos of yourself online or exposing any company secrets.
What have we learned?
The five tips and tricks are intended to give you a glimpse on how to easily secure your Android smartphone or tablet. Securing your device from all types of threats should be a top concern as the risk of losing data is ever increasing. Although it’s up to you to choose the best mobile security or anti-theft solution, we encourage you to do a little research and think about how much is your privacy worth when considering prices.