9 built-in Android settings to tighten your device security
There’s an app for almost every aspect of our lives – from social media to online banking. Which means that your Android phone carries sensitive information that defines your identity.
Therefore, losing your Android phone means more than just losing contacts and your phone numbers. It means losing your social media accounts, valuable documents, your synced files, photos, emails, and messages.
Fortunately, your Android phone features key features that can help you ensure that your device is secure. But how much do you know about them?
The truth is that most Android devices come with a plethora of in-built protection tools. But most users are unaware of them.
To secure your device properly, you should make sure that these features are activated. Perhaps, a device will always ask that you configure essential items when setting up, but you should still regularly check them.
So, here are the essential in-built Android security features that you should be aware of and use to boost your device security.
Find My Device
You never know when disaster may strike, so you should prepare in advance. For instance, have you ever lost your device under the sofa? It can be scary, right?
Google has a useful feature dubbed as ‘Find My Device’ to help you in just such cases. Therefore, all you need to do is set it up before disaster strikes.
Go to Settings > Security > Find My Device. Ensure that the setting is at the On position, and you’ll be ready to go.
Now, you need to get back to Settings and then to Location to ensure that your device can use the location for this feature to work.
In case you lose the device, head to Google’s 'Find My Device' page via the web browser that your Google account is being used to sign in. You can then play a sound to locate the device within the house, or you can lock it up for security purposes, or opt to erase everything from the device.
In our day to day operations, we happen to have or come across confidential information, and thus the reason to protect it. There are different ways of keeping this information safe on Android.
You can either protect your data via patterns, passwords, fingerprint, and face unlock. To access this feature, go to Settings > Security > Screen Lock.
Moreover, you can opt to control what should be visible on the lock screen. All you need to do is head over to Settings > Privacy > Lock Screen, where you can choose to hide sensitive notifications or even hide all the notifications on your lock screen.
Google Play Protect
Another significant feature in Android is Play Protect. It’s a malware scanner, and usually, it's on by default. It automatically scans all the apps in your device and the Play Store's downloads to detect shady apps.
You need to ensure that it’s always turned on by going to Settings > Security > Google Play Protect and turning all options On.
Manage app permissions
Usually, apps should ask for permission to access your device's sensitive information like contacts and photos. Therefore, you must regularly review all the apps you've granted access to. This will help ensure you do not give access to any apps that might compromise the security of your Android device.
Go to Settings > Privacy & Security > Authorization Manager or Permission Management. You can review all your permissions there, and make the necessary changes.
Always use Chrome in Safe Mode
Almost all Android devices use Chrome as the default browser. Therefore, when browsing, ensure that you surf in the safe browsing mode to avoid potential damage. Usually, the mode is on by default, but you don't want to take chances with your device security.
Just open Chrome, look at the menu, and tap on three dots and choose Settings. Tap Google Synchronization and Services and make sure that the Safe Mode is On.
Never allow installation from unknown sources or USB debugging
Some settings are essential but can become the source for a security breach. If you allow installation from third-party sources, you can install APK files on your Android device for apps that are not available on Google Play Store. It's convenient, but the other side of the coin is it leaves the door open for malicious apps.
Therefore, unless you want to install an app from a source that you trust, the option should always be disabled, which is the case by default.
Also, USB debugging is another option that allows you to transfer apps to your device. You can also use it to run advanced commands such as rooting. This option should also be disabled when not actively in use.
There’s also an option for Android users to add emergency contacts as well as other relevant info that first responders can access. It’s an option that can save your life, and you should ensure that you get it activated on time.
Visit Settings > About phone > Emergency information and configure medical information, emergency contacts, and more. Besides, you can display it on the lock screen, especially for medical responders.
Google introduced a new feature in Android 9, known as Confinement. The feature gives you the option to hide all your notifications quickly on your lock screen and turn off face unlocks, smart lock options, and fingerprint.
Therefore, if you feel that you might be forced to unlock the device, the lock mode is an excellent feature to use. Activating is straightforward.
You need to go to Settings > Display > Lock screen display, and then you can activate your show lock option button. After that, hold your device's power button and then press Confinement. Then, enter a password or PIN code to unlock the device.
Run Google security check
Although it’s not an Android security setting, it’s an essential given that your Android device is linked to your Google account for logins and related purposes. You can use it for recommendations on ways of securing your account.
Visit Settings > Google and then Manage Google Account, and go to Security. Next, click on the Security Issues Detected option; you can now tap Secure Account here.
Recommendations on how to secure the account will be provided, such as enabling two-factor authentication, removing old devices, and revoking third-party access.