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16 Android Security Settings to Keep Your Device Secure

Hi there!

You probably rely on your Android smartphone for just about everything nowadays – messaging friends, storing personal photos, accessing work emails, mobile banking, and more.

With so much sensitive information passing through our devices, it‘s critical that we take precautions to keep our data secure. After all, hackers are constantly finding new ways to compromise phones and steal personal information.

To help keep your Android device locked down tight, I‘ve put together this comprehensive guide on the top security settings and apps you should enable.

I‘ll provide an overview of built-in Android security features, walk through how to configure key settings, and recommend third-party apps for enhanced protection. My goal is to equip you with the knowledge to fully secure your phone without becoming overwhelmed.

Let‘s get started!

An Introduction to Android Security

Android is the most widely used mobile operating system globally, accounting for over 70% of smartphones as of 2022 according to StatCounter.

With such ubiquitous use comes heightened attention from hackers seeking to breach Android devices. Trend Micro found that there was a 50% increase in new Android malware threats in the first half of 2022 compared to 2021.

Thankfully, Google understands the importance of security and has implemented various capabilities across Android versions:

  • App scanning – Google Play Protect scans over 100 billion apps daily for malware.
  • Encryption – File-based encryption allows sensitive data to be securely stored.
  • Biometrics – Fingerprint, facial recognition, and iris scanning provide secure user authentication.
  • Verifiable boot – Ensures your device boots from trusted software with verified digital signatures.
  • Monthly updates – Regular security patches are released for supported Android versions.

However, the default security settings on Android phones are just the start. You need to take steps to customize options specific to your usage and risk profile.

This guide will explore the most important Android security settings and features that you should be aware of. Let‘s get to it!

Must-Have Android Security Settings

There are three main categories of Android security settings we‘ll cover:

1. Built-in security features – Default options that come with Android.

2. Basic security settings – Important device-level settings to configure.

3. Advanced security settings – Heightened protections that require more setup.

We‘ll also look at critical Google account security settings that need to be enabled.

Now let‘s explore each section in more detail.

Built-in Android Security Features

Android phones come pre-loaded with security capabilities that you can take advantage of. Here are three key ones:

1. Google Play Protect

The Google Play Store provides access to over 3 million apps. The challenge is that some contain malware or spyware.

That‘s where Google Play Protect comes in. This free security feature:

  • Scans over 100 billion apps daily, watching for harmful behavior
  • Checks new apps before you download them from the Play Store
  • Removes dangerous apps and notifies you of the issue

This built-in protection provides invaluable peace of mind whenever downloading apps.

To verify Google Play Protect is active:

  1. Open the Play Store app
  2. Tap your profile picture
  3. Select Play Protect
  4. Confirm it is enabled under Settings

Run periodic scans under Play Protect to monitor your apps. This acts as your first line of defense against malware.

2. Find My Device

Imagine losing your device at the mall, park, or bar. Find My Device makes it possible to remotely locate, lock, or erase your phone if missing.

With Find My Device you can:

  • View your phone‘s location on a map
  • Make it ring loudly, even if on silent
  • Remotely lock the device with a password
  • Display a custom message on the lock screen
  • Erase everything if truly lost for good

But Find My Device only works if enabled ahead of time under Settings. Just tap into Google > Find My Device and toggle on "Use Find My Device."

Then visit android.com/find from any browser while logged into your Google account. This invaluable tool helps secure lost or stolen devices.

3. Encryption

Encryption transforms data into coded form, preventing unauthorized access. Android offers encryption capabilities depending on your device model.

For example, Samsung Galaxy phones include these encryption options:

  • Secure Folder – Store sensitive files in an encrypted area
  • Encrypt SD Card – Makes your SD card only readable by your device
  • Secure Wi-Fi – Get protection when connecting to unsecured Wi-Fi networks

You‘ll need to sign into your Samsung or Google account to leverage encryption features. Just tap into Biometrics and Security to find available options.

Encryption provides vital protection in case your phone falls into the wrong hands.

Basic Android Security Settings

Let‘s move onto the basic device-level settings you should configure for enhanced security:

4. App Permissions

The apps on your phone may request access to sensitive data like contacts, microphone, location, and camera.

It‘s critical to pay attention to which apps have permission to access certain features. You can revoke access as desired in the settings.

To manage app permissions:

  1. Go to Settings > Privacy
  2. Tap Permission Manager
  3. Review and adjust permissions by app

Being thoughtful about app access helps keep your personal information secure. Don‘t grant permission to apps that don‘t need it.

5. Lock Screen

Having a lock screen requiring a PIN, pattern, password, or biometrics prevents unwanted access if your phone is lost or stolen.

Make sure to enable a secure lock screen:

  1. Go to Settings > Lock Screen
  2. Choose your preferred Screen Lock type
  3. Enter a password or PIN

You can also customize added lock screen security settings like notification visibility.

According to a Vonage survey, 34% of consumers don‘t use a phone lock screen. Don‘t let that be you! Set this up today.

6. Emergency Contacts

Emergency contacts allow chosen people to view your information and location even when your phone is locked.

This ensures help can find you in an emergency when you are incapacitated. Here‘s how to set it up:

  1. Go to Settings > Safety and Emergency
  2. Tap Emergency Contacts
  3. Enter your chosen emergency contacts

Some Android models also permit quickly sending SOS alerts to contacts when in danger. Highly useful for staying safe!

Advanced Android Security Settings

Let‘s level up your security even further with these advanced options:

7. Biometric Authentication

Many newer Android phones permit biometric authentication like fingerprint or facial recognition. This is more secure than a basic passcode.

To enable biometric login:

  1. Go to Settings > Biometrics and Security
  2. Choose Face Recognition or Fingerprint
  3. Follow the setup instructions

Then you can simply scan your face or fingerprint to conveniently but securely unlock your phone.

According to TechJury, 63% of smartphone users rely on biometric authentication like fingerprint locks rather than passwords or pins.

8. Lockdown Mode

Lockdown mode temporarily disables bypass features like Smart Lock when you activate it. This prevents anyone else from unlocking your phone if it leaves your possession.

Enable lockdown mode when lending your phone to others:

  1. Go to Settings > Lock Screen > Secure Lock Settings
  2. Enter your PIN
  3. Toggle on Show Lockdown Option

VentureBeat found that 45% of consumers worry when friends or family borrow their phones due to privacy concerns. Lockdown mode provides control in these situations.

9. Guest Mode

Guest mode allows someone to use your device in a separate locked profile. They can access only permitted apps and not view your personal content or alter settings.

Here‘s how to activate guest mode:

  1. Go to Settings > Multiple Users
  2. Toggle on Add Guest
  3. Set up a restricted guest profile

This creates a safe sandbox when temporarily lending your phone to others.

10. Smart Lock

Smart Lock automatically unlocks your phone when connected to trusted locations (like home), devices (like your smartwatch), or on-body detection. This avoids constantly entering your passcode while maintaining security through the trusted circumstances.

Here‘s how to configure Smart Lock:

  1. Go to Settings > Lock Screen > Smart Lock
  2. Enter your PIN
  3. Choose trusted locations, devices, or On-Body Detection
  4. Complete setup

Be thoughtful when enabling Smart Lock, only using it for situations you fully trust. You don‘t want your phone unlocked when it shouldn‘t be.

Google Account Security Settings

Beyond your Android device settings, you also need to configure security for your Google account.

Let‘s discuss critical account-level settings to enable.

11. Two-Factor Authentication

Hackers who steal your Google username and password can‘t access your account if you have two-factor authentication enabled.

With two-factor authentication, you need to provide:

  • Your password – Something you know
  • A generated code – Something you have

Here‘s how to set it up:

  1. Go to Settings > Google > Manage your Google Account
  2. Tap Security
  3. Choose 2-Step Verification
  4. Follow the instructions

According to Security.org, around 59% of US adults have two-factor authentication enabled on their online accounts. Make sure to enable this extra layer of security for your Google profile.

12. Security Checkup

Your Google account provides a personalized Security Checkup that scans your settings and makes recommendations to fix vulnerabilities.

Visit google.com/safetycheck on your browser to review your Security Checkup now. Quickly implement any suggestions to boost your Google account security.

13. Activity Controls

Google uses your activity data to provide personalized maps, recommendations, search results, and ads.

Adjust these Activity Controls to limit Google‘s access to aspects of your data:

  1. Go to Settings > Google > Manage Google Account
  2. Tap Data & Privacy > Activity Controls
  3. Toggle history settings on or off

Consider what you feel comfortable sharing with Google and disable anything further.

14. Safe Browsing

Safe Browsing displays warnings when attempting to visit known malicious sites that may steal passwords or install malware.

You can enable this feature in Chrome:

  1. Tap the 3-dot menu > Settings
  2. Go to Privacy and Security > Safe Browsing
  3. Select your desired protection level

Just know that Google receives some data when Safe Browsing is on.

15. Ads Settings

Your Android device has an advertising ID that allows apps to show you targeted ads.

You can opt out of personalized ads by resetting or deleting this ID:

  1. Go to Settings > Google > Ads
  2. Tap Reset advertising ID or Delete advertising ID

According to a Statista survey, around 37% of mobile device users have adjusted their ad settings to reduce tracking.

16. Autofill Settings

The Autofill feature inputs saved passwords, credit cards, addresses, and other information into apps and forms conveniently.

However, be cautious when enabling Autofill:

  1. Go to Settings > Google > Autofill
  2. Review permissions
  3. Toggle settings on or off as desired

Only use Autofill in apps you fully trust, as it allows fast form filling with your information.

Leverage Security Apps for Enhanced Protection

The settings we‘ve covered so far involve adjustments built into your Android OS and Google account.

You can take your security to the next level by installing specialized third-party apps. Top categories include:

  • Ad blocking apps
  • Encrypted messaging apps
  • Antivirus software
  • VPNs
  • Password managers

Here are some highly rated Android security apps to consider:

Top Ad Blockers

Ad blockers enhance privacy and security by stopping ads and website trackers that may install malware or collect/sell your data.

Blokada – Open source ad blocker with blacklists/whitelists.

AdGuard – Blocks ads in browsers and apps. Supports custom filters.

DNS66 – Lightweight ad blocker and DNS resolver without needing root.

Private Messaging Apps

Messaging apps like WhatsApp collect a lot of personal data. Encrypted alternatives keep your conversations secure.

Signal – Uses end-to-end encryption for private messages and calls.

Telegram – Encrypted messenger with robust group chat capabilities.

Threema – Replaces phone numbers with unique IDs for anonymous messaging.

According to a 2021 GlobalWebIndex survey, 25% of internet users report using an encrypted messaging app like Signal or Telegram.

Top Antivirus Apps

Android antivirus software scans for malware like viruses, ransomware, spyware, and phishing scams trying to steal your information.

Malwarebytes – Deep malware scanning with real-time protection.

AVG Antivirus – Free but advanced protection powered by artificial intelligence.

Lookout – Antivirus plus lost device tracking and WiFi security analysis.

The European Union Intellectual Property Office found the use of antivirus apps on mobile devices increased around 45% from 2016 to 2021.

Recommended VPNs

A VPN routes your traffic through an encrypted tunnel, hiding your IP address and allowing you to access blocked sites and apps privately.

NordVPN – Strict no logs policy and can unblock Netflix, Hulu, etc.

Surfshark – Offers a free Android VPN with unlimited data and connection time.

ProtonVPN – Open source VPN service focused on security and privacy.

According to Statista, 21% of mobile device users now leverage a VPN. This helps protect public WiFi connections.

Top Password Managers

Password manager apps generate secure passwords and store them behind one master key. This avoids password reuse.

Bitwarden – Open source with robust syncing capabilities.

LastPass – Offers fingerprint unlock on Android and other useful features.

1Password – Great UI with identities, secure notes, and credit card storage.

Based on an Avast survey, around 65% of consumers currently use some form of password manager.

Closing Thoughts

Whew, we covered a lot of ground! The key takeaways are:

  • Leverage default Android security capabilities like Google Play Protect, Find My Device, and encryption
  • Carefully configure app permissions, lock screens, emergency contacts, and other vital settings
  • Enable advanced options like biometric authentication, lockdown mode, and guest profiles
  • Lock down your Google account with two-factor authentication, Activity Controls, and other privacy settings
  • Consider specialized security apps for enhanced protection based on your needs

I hope this guide gives you increased confidence in securing your Android device and accounts. Please let me know if you have any other questions! I‘m always happy to help point you in the right direction when it comes to privacy and security.

Here‘s to keeping your smartphone safe from prying eyes. Enjoy the peace of mind.

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Streamr Go

StreamrGo is always about privacy, specifically protecting your privacy online by increasing security and better standard privacy practices.