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Practices to Secure Your Android Mobile Device

Posted by: Information Security on Friday, June 20, 2014 at 12:00:00 pm

Android-based phones currently account for 79% of the smartphone marketplace (http://www.engadget.com/2014/01/29/strategy-analytics-2013-smartphone-share/). With that said, we wanted to share a few tips to keep your Android phone and its data secure. Just like a typical desktop computer or laptop, it’s smart to take active steps to improve its security and limit access to your important information if it’s hacked, lost, or stolen.

Lock your phone after a few minutes of inactivity


Using the screen lock feature on your phone is the first line of defense from a physical attack on your phone.  If your phone gets lost or stolen, the screen lock is there to slow down or stop an attacker from getting access to your data.  Typical lock choices are: 

  • Pattern  
  • Pin
  • Password

 

Use device encryption 


Do you remember those magic eye images - you know the ones you stare at trying to decipher what the image is behind the random and undecipherable pattern? Think of the process of data encryption similar to those images –  except that after data encryption, you’re the only one who can “see” the actual image beneath the surface. It essentially makes your data only readable by you. If your phone supports it, it’s a good idea to encrypt your phone’s operating system and storage to prevent unauthorized access of your data in the event your phone is lost or stolen. Remember to encrypt the external storage card also.  

 

Do not jailbreak your device


When you “jailbreak” or “root” your Android device, it means you are bypassing important security controls to gain full access to your phone’s operating system.  Rooting your phone often voids your warranty and can create additional security risks.

 

Use antivirus


Just like your personal computer, your smartphone is susceptible to virus, malware, and spyware attacks.  Antivirus products are not fool proof, but most have features that can snap photos of an attacker trying to break the screen lock, automatically scan your phone to find infections and delete them, locate your phone if lost, and much more.   Antivirus software can be downloaded in the Google Play store.  Here are a few top rated antivirus products for an Android smartphone.  Remember to enable automatic updates for your antivirus product.

 

Keeping your phone up-to-date


Keeping your apps and Android operating system up-to-date is essential to patch various vulnerabilities.  Enable automatic updates for all apps and operating system updates to stay current.

 

Be cautious of connecting to open networks


Public and other unsecured networks can be a dangerous place to connect your phone.  A cellular data connection is far more secure than an open Wi-Fi network.  

 

Do not click on suspicious links and attachments


 Just like your computer, hacking/phishing attempts can be written to effect phones as well.  Only open web links and attachments from trusted sources to reduce your risk of compromise.

 

Turn off unused features


Bluetooth and NFC (near field communications) are good examples because they can dramatically increase your risk of unauthorized users in your physical vicinity gaining access to your data.  Turn features off when not in use.

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While no one tip listed above will keep your Android phone completely secure in itself, acting on all of them will give you the best chance to protect your phone and data when you need it the most (hacking attempts or a lost/stolen phone). Let us know in the comments below if you have any questions/comments about utilizing these tips! 

 

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