We upload more of our lives onto our mobile phones than we’re probably conscious of when we’re doing it. Your smartphone probably contains pictures of you, your family, your home, and all your loved ones – which can be a security risk in itself – but it also contains your banking app, your browser passwords, your social media accounts, and perhaps even a few essential business files too. If someone were to steal or access your phone, they’d have access to just about every corner of your life.
Because of that, it’s more important than ever before to secure your phone so that even if were stolen, it can’t be accessed, and hackers can’t gain access to it remotely either. You might think that you’d be of no interest to hackers because you’re not ‘important’ enough as a target, but that’s not how hackers work. To them, cracking open devices is like playing online slots. Ask any online slots player, and they’ll tell you that they know they’re not going to win every time they spin the reels, but they do know that they’ll win eventually if they keep those reels spinning. The key to success when you’re playing UK slots online is to recognize when you’ve got more out than you’ve put in and walk away in profit. It’s the same with hacking. Most of the devices that they compromise won’t offer them anything useful, but every one in fifty or one in one hundred will make the rest worthwhile – and that’s why they carry on doing it.
Now that we’ve explained how and why everybody is a target, we imagine you might be a little worried, so let’s look at what we can do about it! Today we’re focusing on Android users, who like to believe that they’re a little safer than iPhone users when that isn’t necessarily the case. There were over one billion Android phones at risk of being hacked in early 2020, and we imagine many of those potentially affected users haven’t taken action to resolve the problem since then. You wouldn’t want to be among them, so make sure you take these five precautions today!
Always Lock Your Apps
Almost all of us lock our phones by default already, and if you don’t, you really ought to. Locking your phone isn’t enough anymore, though – you also need to lock your apps. Your phone might be open when it’s stolen, or someone might find a way to bypass the lock screen through a hack. If they do, you’ll want more security in the way of them getting access to your most valuable information. Fingerprint locks on all your most important apps will do the trick, as well another PIN. Make sure it’s a different PIN to the one that opens your phone. Having one PIN for your phone and another for apps is a great way of stopping attackers from getting what they want. The latest version of Android allows you to lock and any and all of your apps via your security settings – so take advantage of that feature.
Your work computer is almost certainly encrypted. If you’ve been asked to use your own laptop for work, you probably had to have that encrypted, too. We routinely encrypt emails to ensure that they’re only ever seen by their intended recipients. For all that security-conscious behavior, though, we don’t encrypt our phones even though it’s far easier to do so than most of us probably imagine it is. So long as the data on your phone isn’t encrypted, it’s there to be downloaded, copied, and otherwise used by anyone who gets past your PIN and fingerprint locks. If it’s encrypted, they still can’t use it even if they somehow manage to get past your first lines of defense. Android actually allows you to encrypt your whole phone, so you might as well do that rather than worrying about individual files.
Don’t Use The Default Apps
Internet Explorer used to have a bad reputation for security in the days when it still existed, but that wasn’t necessarily Microsoft’s fault. Internet Explorer wasn’t targeted so often because it was particularly vulnerable – it was targeted so often because it was the most-used browser, and so gaining access to that would also gain you potential access to far more people’s computers. The same is true of any default app on your Android phone. If you’re using the phone’s default version of Chrome instead of, for example, DuckDuckGo, you might be more at risk of an attack. Consider using a non-default calling and messaging app. Change the digital assistant. Use a non-Google calendar. The less exposure you have to the same popular brand, the less vulnerable you are as a result.
Be Stalkerware Aware
If you haven’t come across the term before, “stalkerware” is software that runs invisibly in the background of your phone. It isn’t always visible as an app, and it can be very difficult to pick up on the presence of. While it’s there, it records everything you do. Every password, every button press, every picture – everything it likes. That means it’s crucial to ensure that you don’t have any. The first clue you have stalkerware running is that your phone runs hot for no reason, although a battery that suddenly starts dropping a lot faster than it used to can be a sign, too. Use something like Avast Antivirus to scan your phone regularly and get rid of anything that ought not to be there. If you don’t recognize an app and you don’t remember downloading it, delete it.
Stay On Top Of App Permissions
Apps have a nasty habit of asking for more access than they ought to have a right to. Nine times out of ten, we say ‘yes’ either to make them install or for the sake of an easy life, but that doesn’t mean we should leave those apps with access to things that they shouldn’t have. Even if you’re as security conscious as you could possibly be, you’re still at risk of an app developer being compromised and your data being taken that way. Go to your settings menu and double-check which apps have access to what. If there’s no reason for an app to have access to your pictures, contacts, messages, or browser, revoke those permissions immediately.
The threat of hacking or data loss will never go away, but you can make yourself immune to 99% of known risks by following steps like the ones we’ve outlined above. Your Android phone isn’t automatically the most secure gadget on the planet, but it will be if you give it a little help. See to it!