Say, Android on a Nexus device, on a Samsung / Sony / HTC smartphone and on some unknown “Chinese” – these are two big differences. Nevertheless, some general tips on improving the security of this OS can be given, and some of them coincide with the recommendations for iOS. Of course, it will be necessary to come to terms with certain inconveniences in daily work, but here you will have to follow the universal rule – either comfort or safety. In the end, you can use only part of the recommendations and find the optimal balance of convenience and protection.
1. Get apps only on the Google Play Store
Yes, the most “dangerous” part in Android is not the OS itself, but the programs for it. Unlike iOS, installing an application (on your own or at the will of an attacker) on Android is easier than ever. Never download programs from unofficial sites or from third-party sites, as they may be infected. It is best to disable the ability to install software from third-party sources and enable built-in application checking. Also, do not do root access, as this significantly increases the level of risk.
2. Keep track of what applications allow
Firstly, you should install applications from well-known developers or those recommended by Google. Secondly, before installing it is necessary to check what the application is going to access. For example, a program for changing wallpaper or a toy that requires access to accounts, SMS, microphone, location and unlimited access to the Internet, looks extremely suspicious.
3. Use strong passwords
Universal, but never superfluous advice. To unlock the screen, it is better to set a really complex password and refuse to use a pattern or PIN code. The password, as usual, must consist of at least a dozen characters. Ideally, it should include letters in different registers, numbers and other characters. But it is better not to make the password very complicated, otherwise you will get tired of typing it quickly. Periodically it is useful to change the password. It is also worth setting the minimum possible screen autolock interval and disable the display of any passwords as you type. In addition, many applications allow you to set a password protection.
4. Encrypt your data
Everything is simple! If the information on the phone is encrypted, even if it is lost, the data will not fall into the wrong hands. For protection, it is better to set a password, not a PIN code. It will have to enter every time you turn on the device. In current versions of Android, encryption strength depends only on the strength of the password – before the advent of Android 5.0, this will have to be borne in mind.
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5. Watch for Wi-Fi connections
Android by default tries to connect to the wireless networks to which you have ever connected. It may well be that, instead of the familiar open access point, it will turn out to be a hotspot with the same name, created by an attacker. Therefore, firstly, you should avoid public points and, secondly, you should regularly clear the list of remembered Wi-Fi networks. At the same time it is recommended to disable the forced tracking of wireless networks.
6. Always use VPN
This tip is especially relevant when using open access points somewhere in a public place or in any untrusted networks. Using VPN will protect the transferred data, and as a pleasant bonus it will help to circumvent possible restrictions on access to certain resources. Today, access to a reliable VPN is not so expensive, and some modern home routers have their own VPN servers, so in this case the connection will be completely free. Just keep in mind that it is better to use L2TP or OpenVPN – these protocols provide better protection than the popular PPTP. In order for some data not to have time to leak before establishing a VPN connection, it will not be superfluous to either turn off auto-synchronization of applications or (which is better) to set up forced use of VPN.
7. Disable notifications
Even with the screen locked, various notifications can be displayed both in the status bar and directly on the smartphone display. These may include one-time transaction codes, account status notifications, and other sensitive data. Unfortunately, there is no single notification center where they could be disabled in one fell swoop. In addition, many manufacturers install a variety of shells, which may also not be very safe from this point of view. Therefore, you will have to manually disable notifications in applications.
8. Set up Google services
The corporation of good wants to know about its users as much as possible, and its appetites grow every year. It makes sense to reason the search giant slightly in his desires, since a leak of access to a Google account has very sad consequences – attackers can not only read your messages, but also know where and when you were, view your photos and contacts, and much more.
Where to set up: in the “Google Settings” application in the “My Location” section, disable the “Sending location” and “Location History” options for all accounts, disable “Google Now” in the “Search and Hints” section, and optionally “Android Remote Control” Enable the “Remote Device Search” and “Remote Block and Reset Settings” options; in the “Google Photos” application, go to “Settings” -> “Startup” and disable the functions of automatically sending all the taken photos to the Google server.
9. Get rid of unnecessary applications
In essence, this is a continuation of points 1 and 2. The more programs, the higher the chance that some of them will engage in unfair activities. In addition, in the Android world, there is a vicious practice when a smartphone maker pre-installs a huge number of third-party applications and services. Even if you do not use them, it does not mean at all that their developers do not use you for any of their own purposes. Some of them can be removed, although not all. What kind of services you can safely disable, easy to find on the Internet.
10. Enable two-step authentication for Google and other applications
Two-factor authentication is perhaps the only method for sufficiently reliable protection of any accounts today. It works quite simply – in addition to entering a password, you are required to provide a temporary one-time code that can be received via SMS or using special applications or even devices. Without this code, an attacker, even knowing your password, will not be able to log into your account and mess things up.
The above tips will help to significantly increase the security of Android, but they will not save from many misfortunes anyway. So do not be lazy to install on your smartphone a software package from well-known developers of antivirus solutions. In addition to the antivirus itself, they usually offer many other levels of protection – secure web surfing, password manager, SMS and call filtering, “anti-theft” features, and so on.
So, dozens of iOS settings to increase the security of your mobile are easy. And what to do with Android? The trouble is that Android – it seems to be the same, but at the same time very, very different. The rather high openness of the platform allowed it to quickly become the leader in the market of mobile devices, but gave rise to the notorious fragmentation, which they like to remember at every opportunity.