Smartphone privacy, here is how to secure your online world. Follow these steps to protect your data on your Android phone. These steps vary slightly based on your version of Android.
1. SET UP A LOCK
First step is to setup a lock for your device. It can either be PIN containing numbers or alphanumeric password.
Simply go to Settings > Security > Screenlock > choose from different options like PIN, Pattern etc.
PIN and Password are more secure than Pattern. The easiest way is to set a 4 digit pin of your choice.
2. ENCRYPT DEVICE TO PROTECT STORED DATA
Encrypting your Android phones storage is easy and does not cause any problem. Some applications in the background may not run for example, WhatsApp, Gmail due to no access to the encryption.
Go to Settings > Security > Encrypt
To setup encryption, you need to setup a PIN or password as outlined in the first section. On an encrypted device, all personal data gets encrypted. This includes things like your email, texts, contacts, Google Account data, app data, photos, media, and downloads.
3. UNKNOWN SOURCE - BIG NO!
Google Play store is the only trusted way to install apps in a secure way. Allowing installation from unknown websites will install malware (apps that steal your data), viruses (strange behavior of your device).
Never allow app installation from third party if your are not sure the source that provides the app is legit. In fact, most trusted companies 99.9% will have apps in google play store. Knowing this can be a lifesaver for your device and data.
Go to Settings > Security > Unknown sources
4. CHECK THE PERMISSION OF APPS WHEN INSTALLING AND DURING LAUNCH
Android has improved the security mechanism a lot over the last years. Once such improvement is the App Permissions. Earlier version of Android's did not get consent from the user to launch an installed app.
Things have changed and user can control what portion of the Operation System that the app can have access to. For example, calling apps may request you to allow it to operate by asking you permission for 'Phone'. What if it ask you for access to 'Files'? Simply, click 'Deny' for Files if an app asks for it but it has nothing to do with the file system. This may cause the app to work in less featured more.
5. DO NOT SHARE YOUR LOCATION
Most apps does not require your location details. Turning it OFF does not impact much for the apps, it may be a good privacy opt-in for a user.
Settings > Apps > App icon >Permissions > Location
6. KEEP YOUR SOFTWARE UP TO DATE
Always update to the latest operating system, in our case the Android operating system. Older versions might be vulnerable to security and privacy risks.
It is also applicable for the installed apps. Older version of apps can cause big risk to the whole device if not updated regularly when the updates are made available.
Keep your banking, chat, calling apps up to date!
7. ONLINE STORAGE VS PASSWORD PROTECTED ZIP ARCHIVE
Do not keep your Photos, Passwords, Financial information, personal information in online storage apps like OneDrive, Google Drive, DropBox.
Alternatively, you can Zip it and setup a password known only to you (never store this password online) and upload to any cloud storage apps.
It is known that some cloud apps are being hacked in the past and lot of personal information are exposed to public. Some apps, scan for the words in the document and can be known to insides of the cloud storage provider.