Hi Everyone, I’m very fortunate to have as guest blogger for Qlick Tech Blog – Ms. Faith MacAnas of securethoughts.com. She will be tackling insights on how to achieve perfect android security. Very interesting right? So here she is… Take it away Faith!
How to Achieve Perfect Android Security
Compared to iOS, Android gets a bad rap when it comes to security. It’s no surprise either: Google allows much more freedom in their operating system, a departure from the very controlled, proprietary method behind Apple’s design.
With that freedom comes many benefits. Android users can customize their experience to a much greater degree. They can also wind up in some real trouble; hackers and malware present a major threat to Android users.
But there are things we can do to make our devices much more protected. By utilizing the right apps, learning safe habits and gaining an overall better understanding of the Android platform, it’s possible to form nearly perfect security against the vast number of current threats.
Here’s where you should start.
Even before you understand the intricacies of how to make Android safer to use, using security apps can help make you safer because they largely do their jobs passively. Even users with little to no experience can benefit from this short list of security services:
• Anti-malware apps
• Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)
• Anti-theft measures
• Password managers
Most users intuitively know about the first service because the media has focused on the dangers of malware over the last few decades. Android apps are just as vulnerable to infection and should be taken care of with one of the many free anti-virus apps, such as Norton, Avast, Panda or AVG.
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)
The latest in protection is an answer to the dangers of so much public WiFi usage. These networks, which are unsecured by their nature, pose a major risk to users. Hackers can infiltrate devices not using secure internet connections. The solution? Secure your connection with a VPN.
A VPN is a service that encrypts data you send and receive and prevents hackers from utilizing stolen data or accessing your device via public WiFi. According to Secure Thoughts, it’s one of the best ways to combat threats posed by the internet. One caveat exists: While the service may be extremely valuable, but it does come with a subscription fee (typically $6 to $15 a month).
As vulnerable as our mobile devices can be to hackers and malware, they’re just as vulnerable to thieves and pickpockets. Devices are stolen every day, particularly the newer, more expensive ones. The best way to combat that is to watch your device; the second best way is to use an anti-theft app to keep tabs on your device.
Avast and other companies offer apps that can track and lock your device in the event it’s taken or misplaced. That way you’re able to safeguard any data on the device and aid in its recovery.
The numerous accounts your Android accesses can be overwhelming at times. So many different passwords to remember lead us to be lazy and make weak passwords in an effort to make them easier to recall. Worse yet, many of us are guilty of reusing passwords.
There’s an easy fix for that: Password managers let you generate difficult passwords for different services, but you can then store those passwords in the manager. They are encrypted and can only be accessed with the master password. This way, you can protect all of the accounts on your Android without having to stress your memory.
Once you have the best apps Android has to offer for security, the next thing to do is learn how to behave in a way that keeps your device safe. While that may not sound like much fun, it beats having problems with a stolen identity, hacked files or a bricked (dead or broken) device.
There are a few steps you’ll need to take to make sure how you’re using device is conducive to safety:
- Log out when you’re not using a service
- Recognize suspicious messages and links
- Use a lock screen password
- Avoiding leaving your phone in a public place
One of the easiest and most forgotten steps to keeping your Android truly safe is making sure you don’t leave multiple accounts logged in. This can seem unintuitive at first because so many services want you to be always logged in. But staying logged in means anyone that picks up your device can access your accounts. This can spell trouble.
Whenever you install a service or visit a website, be sure when you close it to log out first. Just closing your browser or exiting an app doesn’t guarantee you’ve been logged out. Double check; it could save you quite a few headaches.
Security software prevents many forms of cyber-attacks, but criminals are aware of these tools and seek to infiltrate people’s devices and accounts through more creative means. Scams are prevalent online because users are largely anonymous.
Thankfully, scams are easy enough to recognize—so long as you’re actually watching for them. Messages, emails and other forms of contact can be great ways to send malicious links and files that can end up stealing from you.
Watch for two common signs: poor or unusual grammar and fake websites. The former requires you to read messages carefully and understand that scammers may be using stolen accounts to impersonate people you trust. What they’re bad at is actually mimicking how the people you know talk. If you’re ever unsure, contact the person offline to make sure it’s real.
The latter—fake websites—can be figured out by simply reading the address in your address bar at the top of your browser. You can also inspect hyperlinks before visiting them by tapping and holding down your finger until the “copy” option appears. It will show the full address no matter what the link text says, so you can see that a link to Facebook.com actually leads to Facebookes.com (or other similar but fake names).
Fake sites typically look like the real thing, so make sure you check that URL address!
Use a Screen Lock Password
Far too many Android owners prefer the convenience of just turning their screen on and immediately being ready to use their device. But a lock screen password offers a tremendous boost to security. Without your PIN, criminals have no access to your device.
That even includes government figures, as was the case with the FBI trying to unlock an iPhone (which uses the same technology). Just be sure your password isn’t something easy to guess, such as your birthday or the PIN you use for your ATM card.
Never Leave Your Phone Unattended
On the off chance someone has figured out your PIN and you leave your phone unattended in a public place, you might just be out of luck. Having an anti-theft app installed may help you mitigate some of the damage, but it’s unlikely you’ll be totally protected.
The best course of action is just to keep that Android close. It’s okay to part with your device at times—just not around other people, particularly people you don’t know.
The last thing to keep in mind as you delve into the world of Android security is keeping your device updated. For everything you do with your device, there’s someone else out there trying to find some kind of vulnerability to exploit that.
Luckily, Google and app developers are just as aware of this as anyone else, and they spend a great deal of time providing updates to keep these security loopholes closed. The only issue is that you have to update! If you choose not to install updates, you’re foregoing the ability to protect your device.
So do yourself a favor; get the right apps, learn how to navigate your Android safely, and stay updated. This combination will make your Android a force to be reckoned with—at least in terms of security!
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