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How to fully secure, protect and lock your Android phone

Android phones may be poorly equipped, but are actually pretty safe. Or at least they can be.

With a little work, your Galaxy, Pixel, or OnePlus phone can be a real fortress that's virtually impenetrable to hacks, attacks, and bad apps. Whether you're looking for a little more security or a complete lock on your phone, you'll find everything to keep your data out of the wrong hands.

Android Security: Default Protection

Even if you skip it Throughout the setup process and ignore all security prompts, your Android phone will still help protect your information.

Play Protect

  Google Play Protect IDG

Google has a malware scanner directly in the Play Store called Play Protect. First and foremost, a security check is performed on apps before you download them. Above all, however, it is also checked whether the phone is faulty after downloading. If found, you will be warned about a notification and, in extreme cases, automatically deleted from your device. You can review your Google Play Protect settings and review the scanned apps on the Updates tab in the My Apps & Games section of the Play Store


Ever Since Android 5 By default, Lollipop provides Android with encryption for all devices, provided that you specify a type of blocking method (pattern, PIN, or password) on your phone. In Android 7 Nougat, we switched to file-based encryption, but the bottom line is essentially the same: The data on your phone is protected by the standard 256-bit AES encryption once it is locked. So if nobody knows your passcode, they will not see anything encrypted.

Android Security: Basic Protection

You do not have to be a paranoid Android to create a basic layer of protection on your device, you just have to change some settings.

Setting a Password

While newer Android phones offer many biometric unlocking methods, each phone requires one of the three traditional locking methods: Pattern, PIN, or Password. They are not equivalent. A pattern (created on a 9-point square) is the easiest to remember, but least certain. A 6-digit PIN is much better, but the best is a random password. But even if you choose a sequence of letters and numbers, you should set a reminder to be changed once every six months. Make sure it's not the same thing that protects your primary Google Account.

Enable 2-Step Verification

Regardless of what you do with your phone, your Google Account is central to everything that happens. As the name implies, add an additional layer of protection with 2-step verification. So if someone steals your password, you still can not get into your account. Here's how it works After you're prompted for your Google password, a code will be sent to your standard phone via text message or call, which must be entered to allow access to your account.

While this does not necessarily protect your phone against theft, it will protect what it says. For example, if someone tries to sign in to their Google Account remotely from another device, they can tell you through the two-step message on their phone. And then you can take the appropriate action and change your password.

Find my Device install

  google find my device IDG

Google provides a handy tool to track a lost or stolen phone directly in the playback business. With the name Find My Device, you can track, lock and delete your handset from anywhere with just a tap. After the download, you can sign in with your Google Account and allow your device location to be accessed. From then on, you can sign in to the Google Find My Device website and see where your phone is if you lose it. You can also remotely lock your device, view a message or phone number for the person who finds it, or delete the entire contents of your phone.

Stay up to date

Google releases monthly security updates for Android Most of the newer phones distribute relatively quickly. You do not have to search for it. As soon as one is available, you will automatically be informed by your phone. But do not hesitate, because it is easy to forget them. Decide when to install an update as soon as you know it's available. It only takes a few minutes and can make the difference.

Android Security: Moderate Protection

Now that the basic stuff has been removed, we're working to lock your Android phone even more. 19659005] Unlocking Fingerprint Setup

  Google Pixel Imprint IDG

While a password is a good way to protect your phone, it can not beat your fingerprint. If you have purchased your Android phone within the last two years, there is a good chance that a fingerprint sensor is installed either under the screen, on the back panel or in the power button. Search for the security settings to register one or more fingerprints. It only takes a few seconds to implement a very important protective layer.

Many phones also offer face unlocking, but if you do not have a Huawei Mate 20 you should skip them. This is because most phones use the 2D front camera to scan your face instead of a 3D card such as Face ID on the iPhone or Huawei's depth detection camera. They can easily be fooled with a little more than one picture.

Preventing Unknown Downloads

One of the biggest advantages of Android is also one of the biggest risks: downloading apps that are not available in the Play Store. If you install an app outside the Google Store, you will lose Play Protect and expose your phone to potential malware. To prevent potential problems, Google has created a way to turn off accidental or unintentional downloads. In Settings Special App Access you can find a Unknown Sources or Unknown Apps tab that lets you install apps from a non-Play Store source like Chrome or another browser.

  android unknown apps IDG

Depending on the phone, the mechanism is slightly different. Until Android Nougat, there was a single switch that allowed you to block or install apps from unknown sources. In Android Oreo and above, permission is granted on an app-basis, so you can allow Chrome or Slack to install apps and block other apps. It's a good habit to visit this setting regularly to make sure you do not have malicious apps installed that allow you to install software in the background. When you find one, tap the name and turn off the toggle switch.

Uninstalling Apps

When you talk about wayward apps, one of the best ways to keep your system safe is to have a good, old-fashioned housekeeping. Just jump into your app drawer and uninstall apps that you have not used for some time. This frees up memory and ensures there are no potential risks.

Check app permissions

It's also a good idea to keep checking app permissions. When you download an app from the Play Store and start it for the first time, Android asks you if it has access to, for example, a mobile app. As microphone, camera, phone, etc. can have. We often just go away without knowing what's going on, but you can always take it back and revoke it at any time. Go to the Permissions tab in Apps in Preferences and you can see which apps are allowed to perform what functions, and disable everything that looks suspicious.

Android Security: High Protection

If you've learned how to turn your Android phone into a vault, you'll need to do the following:

Disable passwords smart lock and auto-login

Smart lock for passwords This can be handy, but if you want to lock your phone, you need to handle your passwords yourself. And that unfortunately means turning off the Smart Lock for passwords. Why this is the case: Google's method does not use site- or account-based authentication, as it does with password managers. After logging in to your account on your device for the first time, all passwords will be available to you. Of course, this could be a problem if someone wipes over your phone.

  Google Smart Lock IDG

You'll find the toggle switch in the security settings for your Google Account, not the Security tab in Preferences. If you are there, tap Security, and then scroll to . Log in to other locations and type Saved Passwords . You will see two toggle switches: offer to store passwords and auto-login . If you do not want to turn it off, you can also choose sites that ignore auto login. We think that a much better solution is to require biometric authentication every time you enter a password (which Apple does on the iPhone). Until then, you should disable it if you are paranoid.

Download a Password Manager

If you disable Smart Lock, the only way to keep your passwords secure and organized is to lock them in a password manager. Stronger and more secure than Google's Smart Lock Password Sync, Password Manager provides clear, complex passwords, organize and manage multiple logins, and store sensitive notes, credit card information, and other information that you want to keep in a digital locker. And everything is protected by a password or a fingerprint, depending on what you choose.

Since your password manager is a separate service, you can use any device or browser to access your passwords, even if someone steals your phone, protecting your personal information. And with Android Oreo you can even integrate some of them into Autofill of your phone (naturally protected by fingerprint).

Our preferred password manager is LastPass, but there are many great options. You have to pay an annual fee, but it's worth it. Read the PCWorld Guide to Best Password Managers for Everything You Need to Know.

Using a VPN

Regardless of the number of protections you add to your phone, it is inherently vulnerable every time you visit the Web. Why? Because the information you send can be stolen and spied on with little effort, especially if you use a public Wi-Fi hotspot. When you use a VPN service, your information is encrypted before it is transmitted to the airwaves. Your data is fully protected from anyone but the VPN provider and the website you visit. Even if someone manages to steal it, he is protected.

There are many VPNs in the Play Store. Therefore, make sure you read the rankings and user ratings before making your selection. Our start recommendation is TunnelBear, which is free and super easy. If you're looking for something more advanced, you can download OpenVPN for Android and experiment with Mullvad, the best PC in our list of best VPN services.

Using an Authenticator App

2-step verification applies to your Google Account. However, you should also use it for any service that offers it: Twitter, Facebook, Dropbox, and so on. However, if you want to go one step further, you can use an authentication app to generate unique codes directly on your phone instead of using them Send SMS text messages, which can be riskier. Google is creating its own authentication app for your Google Account and many other websites, available for free from the Play Store. For this reason, we recommend a look at it.

Get a Physical Security Key

  Google Titan Security Key Google

If you want the ultimate protection for your accounts, nothing beats an NFC security key. About the size of a flash drive (so you can attach it to a keychain) and completely protected against phishing, a security key waives codes and stores all your authentication on a physical device. Therefore, even if you manage to steal all passwords, it is basically impossible to get into one of your accounts without the key. The $ 50 Titan Security Key (including USB and Bluetooth Security Key
) is a great option from Google, but there are also less cost-effective options from Yubico .

Enabling lockdown mode

If all else fails, Google has added a new locker option for Android 9 that will allow you to fully secure your phone as you type. Press and hold the power button for one second and a lock option will appear at the bottom of the list. (If it does not, you can enable it in the Lock settings.) When you tap it, the phone locks immediately. Turn off the fingerprint scanner (so you can not force your finger to unlock it), remove all notifications from the lock screen, and disable Smart Lock. This will remain so until the next time you lock the phone again.

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