Our smartphones are no longer just tools for communication. They are our ‘wallet’, ‘work machine’, ‘photo album’ and more. All this makes it one of the most important devices for us, it also makes it essential that we keep it secure. And mind you, keeping your phone secure does not mean you need to necessarily spend money. Most latest versions of Android come with in-built protection tools that you can use. Here’s a look at some of the crucial security settings and tools you should not miss.
Put Screen lock
Set up a screen lock to secure your Android phone or tablet. You can do this using a PIN, pattern, or password. On some devices, you can unlock with your fingerprint. Each time you turn on your device or wake up the screen, you will be asked to unlock your device.
Set Lock screen security options
Choose which notifications you want to appear on your phone’s screen when it is locked. You can change settings depending on what notifications you want to show on the display. You can do it for certain apps or for your whole phone. Users can also control notifications from several apps from the settings menu in the app. To make these changes, open the app and search for the settings menu and make the requisite changes. Please note that some of these steps work only on Android 11 and up.
Find My Device
Google’s Find My Device feature (earlier called Android Device Manager) helps users locate their lost Android device and lock it until they get it back. It’s important to set it up properly. To do this: Head to Settings > Security > Find My Device. Do remember to turn on location for this, as it is must for the feature to work. This will not only help you trace your lost phone but also protect the data on it by locking and signing out of your phone remotely as well as erase everything.
Choose when your Android phone can stay unlocked — use Smart Lock
Users can keep their phones unlocked in some situations, like when it is in their pocket or near home. When you use Smart Lock, you only need to unlock once with your PIN, pattern or password. When you turn on your screen after unlocking your phone, a pulsing circle around the Lock means that your phone is still unlocked. However, in case you don’t use your phone for 4 hours, and after it restarts, you will need to unlock it. This feature is available on phones running Android 10 and above.
Google Play Protect
Google Play Protect helps users keep their device safe and secure. It runs a safety check on apps from the Play Store before users download them. It checks devices for potentially harmful apps from other sources, warns users about any detected potentially harmful apps found, and removes known harmful apps from the device. Play Protect also notifies users of apps that violate Google’s Unwanted Software Policy by hiding or misrepresenting important information. It sends privacy alerts about apps that secretly enable user permissions to access personal information. It’s usually enabled by default. To make sure Play Protect is on, go to Settings > Security > Google Play Protect. Users can run a scan in case they suspect something, it also shows when a scan was last run.
Use Safe Browsing in Chrome
Chrome is the default browser on Android devices. The browser comes with a Safe Browsing mode that aims to remove dangerous websites. Make sure it is enabled. Open Chrome, tap the three-dot Menu button and choose Settings. Tap Sync for Google Services.
Take Google Security Checkup regularly
An easy way to protect your Google account is to take Security Checkup regularly. This step-by-step tool gives you personalised and actionable recommendations to secure your account. Google neatly breaks down the possible security issues into specific categories: ‘Your devices’, ‘Recent security events’, ‘Third-party access’, and ‘Sign-in & recovery’. Here Yellow means possible issues, Green colour means all well and nothing to worry.
Manage app permissions
Review what all information third-party apps can access. Users can review the type of account access a third party has as well as the Google services it has access to. If you gave access to an app or service that you no longer trust or want to use, you can remove its access. However, while the app or service won’t be able to access any more info from your Google Account, you may need to request that they delete the data they already have.
Check for ‘exposed’ passwords in your Google Account
Users can find out if any of the passwords in their Google Account has been exposed, is weak, or is being used in multiple accounts. You can change any unsafe passwords: On your computer, go to passwords.google.com >> Select Check passwords (you may need to sign in) >> Follow the steps given. Remember, the passwords in your Google Account are automatically updated on other sites when you are signed in to Chrome and have sync turned on.