Security Tips For Android Users
Tags: [security], [apps], [android], [privacy], [encryption]
Every device today has the option to encrypt your phone or tablet. I started using this feature around 2015 when I picked up the Google Nexus 6p. We have touched on encryption in the past and will touch on again as it pertains to your mobile device.
Encryption on your phone or tablet is more important than encrypting your desktop computer or a device that never leaves your home. While, you should encrypt those devices that stay in your house having any device you take out into the world needs to be encrypted. This should not be an option.
You are much more likely to lose your device and have it fall into the wrong hands when you are out at your local coffee shop or in a hotel. With your device's hard drive encrypted if someone finds it or steals it they cannot get your files by removing the hard drive and plugging it into their own computer.
If your mobile device is not encrypted an attacker need not know your password to get your information. It's much easier to remove a hard drive, plug it in, and pull off the contents. I did this many times in the past when a family member had an issue and can't turn their phone on. Since they were unencrypted I could show them how little effort I took to get their files once I had their device.
Encrypting your device is as simple as touching your screen with today's Android devices. If you are using Android 5.0 or higher all you have to do is go to security within the settings menu. Some manufacturers of android phone put this in different locations so I cannot give you an exact path to find this. However, on most, you should be able to see it under the main settings menu.
After you find 'security' you should see an option within that menu to encrypt your device. DO THIS.
If you are worried about losing photos and videos if something happens to your phone just use an auto backup services. They are provided by Google and Dropbox, or if you are feeling nerdy, you can set up your own with NextCloud.
If you click on security and it says encrypted, congrats! Your phone already did it for you.
Yes, passwords again. It may be my life mission to make sure everyone is using good passwords. This time though it is how you log into your device. We have many options these days to log in but what is the best?
The most popular login option as far as I can tell is the pattern code login. This is not very secure since someone can glance over while you are unlocking your device and memorize your pattern. The same thing goes for a pin code of numbers.
Your best option is a passphrase and fingerprint combination. A passphrase will not be easy for an attacker to memorize if you need to enter it in the event that the fingerprint scanner does not work. I am saying to add the fingerprint combination to give you a little ease of use. Everyone sacrifices security for convenience but remember the fingerprint scanners can be tricked.
However, if you are not some celebrity or head of state, you should be ok with this combination. If you are then you need to not use anything but a strong passphrase. This is because someone could knock you out and use your finger to unlock your phone or even fake your fingerprint (this has happened). Most of us won't be in that kind of high-pressure situation so the fingerprint and passphrase combination is a great way to be secure.
Many people are unaware about apps and their permissions. It is wise to check and be sure that any app is only getting the permissions it needs. When you go to download a calculator and it asks for access to your phone calls and contacts, you need to think twice before confirming the download.
I have been very conscious of this since about 2014. I will download a less known, not as pretty, app over the popular one because it has no permissions needed. Or at least a lot less than the popular version. However, I understand that I am always the exception to the rule for this kind of effort.
So what you should do is at least check so you know what you are getting into. If you calculator app needs access to your camera, contact, or phone calls, you need to find a new calculator. This goes for any app you installed from the play store. You can find the permissions of each app under 'settings', 'apps', then click the app of choice, and click 'permissions'. Here you can turn on and off permissions you want the app to have access too or not.
If you are feeling extra top secret and want to take your security to the next level, you can get a special, sticky, front-facing camera cover. I use these I found on Amazon. They stick to your device and allow you to slide the blackout piece back and forth to use or hide the camera. I did this as I don't need someone spying on my pooping face.
/me laughs out loud
But for real though...
People have been able to get access to cameras for a long time. This means that an attacker could get access to your camera and see what you are doing 24/7. This is super creepy. I don't cover the back facing camera since it's against a table, anyway. But the front-facing camera is always exposed to me and my surroundings. Yes, its paranoid step I'll admit but if Mark Zuckerberg covers his computer's webcam shouldn't you cover yours? Then again, he is a high-value target, so the choice is yours.
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