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3 tips for securing your Android device

AndroidPIT security 3870
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Recently, we asked you, our valued readers, to tell us which topics you would like to see on AndroidPIT in the future. The results showed that about 90% of you were interested in learning more about security and privacy. With that in mind, here are three things you can do today to make your Android device more secure.

1. Encrypting your device

Encryption is a process which encodes your private data on a device, so that it can't be read by anyone unauthorized. Once you encrypt your Android smartphone, any new data becomes encrypted automatically. Decrypting takes place automatically for you as well.

Android has two methods for encrypting your device:

Full disk encryption on Android (5.0 and up)

According to Google, "full-disk encryption uses a single key—protected with the user’s device password—to protect the whole of a device’s userdata partition. Upon boot, the user must provide their credentials before any part of the disk is accessible." This is secure, but when you reboot your phone, your data isn't accessible until your credentials are entered. Which means, things like alarm notifications and phone calls can't take place.

File-based encryption on Android (7.0 and up)

For those who have Nougat already, Android's file-based encryption "allows different files to be encrypted with different keys that can be unlocked independently." With the Direct Boot function, devices can "boot straight to the lock screen, thus enabling quick access to important device features like accessibility services and alarms."

2. Secure messaging on Android

The Secure Messaging Scorecard by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is a great resource for evaluating all the complex ways a messaging service can be secured or unsecured. There are a lot of factors to take into account, and if you're not a security expert, you may not have considered something like whether or not your messages were encrypted during transit. Nevertheless, these details are still very important. 

Their scorecard evaluates messengers based on the following criteria:

  • Encrypted in transit?    
  • Encrypted so the provider can’t read it?    
  • Can you verify contacts’ identities?    
  • Are past comms secure if your keys are stolen?    
  • Is the code open to independent review?    
  • Is security design properly documented?    
  • Has there been any recent code audit?

With these factors in mind, there are many apps which meet all the criteria on the scorecard. Since security and usability are often at odds with each other, some apps which meet these criteria aren't the most user-friendly or widely adopted.

signal private messenger android application 02
Make secure calls with Signal. / © NextPit

For both security and usability, I recommend the average person to try Signal for secure communications. It's user-friendly and popular among the security-conscious crowd. You can download it from Google Play here:

3. Enable Two-factor Authentication on everything

Two-factor authentication, also called two-step verification, requires two authentication methods, like passwords, PIN numbers, fingerprints or physical access to your cell phone. This method of securing your accounts works on many services, and you may already have used it with your online banking platform. 2FA, as it is sometimes known, even works with various social media platforms to prevent other people from hijacking your online identity. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn all have the feature. Major payment platforms like PayPal and cloud storage services like Dropbox also usually support 2FA. And, very importantly, you should enable it on your Google Account as well.

What other security topics are you interested in? Have you tried any of the above methods before?

 The best smartphones under $400

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Brittany McGhee

Brittany McGhee

Brittany loves to keep up with the latest technology and innovation, so she is excited to have the opportunity to write about the wonderful world of Android. She thinks spreadsheets and numbers are fun, in addition to reading books and volunteering.

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  • Jeff Bryant 2
    Jeff Bryant Jan 25, 2017 Link to comment

    2 factor authentication is great if every piece of your life's details have been documented 15 years in advance. My Instance, Microsoft has chosen to lock me out of all Windows services and accounts. I was in the hospital for three weeks getting treatment, had no computer access. For me, at nearly 55, three weeks is a long time, I forget things. Microsoft was happy to help the recover my account settings. OR well...
    I couldn't remember what my cell number from 15 years prior and my top 16 contacts, so without this crucial step, they locked me out of my online business essentially for 90 days. What ever happened to reset password??

  • Jeff Bryant 2
    Jeff Bryant Jan 25, 2017 Link to comment

    I certainly w

  • Dean L. 34
    Dean L. Jan 24, 2017 Link to comment

    Thanks for the info. Encryption on the device in my opinion is the easiest to implement. But I say that only because with many of the secure messaging apps everyone you want to message needs to be using the same app, at least that's my understanding.

  • PiTech Indore 3
    PiTech Indore Jan 23, 2017 Link to comment

    Encryption is the best option to secure your device. Encryption makes your device safe from the hackers.

    Brittany McGhee

  • gopal dewasi 1
    gopal dewasi Jan 22, 2017 Link to comment

    My mobile huawai honor u30 not fast

  • John T. 28
    John T. Jan 21, 2017 Link to comment

    Great , I'll encrypt my smartphone

    Brittany McGhee

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