Our mobile devices are packed with valuable data– banking and social media logins, work-related emails and files, personal information like ID numbers and addresses, and so much more. This makes them a juicy target for cybercriminals looking to benefit from our personal information.
From hackers who want credit card details to the snoop at work hoping to get their hands of sensitive workplace information, mobile threats are on the rise. Kaspersky Lab statics reveal that the number of devices attacked by malware increased from 66.4 million in 2017 to 116.5 million in 2018.
The good news is that your Android phone contains a wealth of security features to help you protect your data. Here are a few ways to keep your smartphone safe from hackers, malware and the other nasties of the digital era:
- Stay up to date with the latest Android version
Always be sure to install the latest updates to your core apps and to the Android operating system as soon as they become available. These updates usually ‘patch’ vulnerabilities, or flaws in the software, that hackers can exploit to gain access to your data. You can see your device’s Android version number and security update level in your Settings app. You’ll get notifications when updates are available for you. You can also check for updates.
- Use two-factor authentication
Sound Android security starts with ensuring that your Google account is as safe as possible, so enable two-factor authentication on your Google account if you have not yet done so. You’ll find these settings in My Account > 2-Step Verification. Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security to your Google account.
In addition to using your password to login, you will need to supply a verification code sent to your phone or generated by an authenticator app to get access to your device. This means that even if someone has your Google login-in details, they will not be able to access your account without access to the additional info.
Tip: Your other key apps like social media and banking may also offer two-factor authentication options – consider enabling it for every app and service that supports two-factor authentication.
- Lock the screen when not in use
Setting a screen lock is one of the most important ways to secure your Android phone – one of the biggest threats is that someone physically steals your device and then accesses the information and services it contains for their own purposes. With a screen lock, you’ll be asked to unlock your device with a PIN, pattern, fingerprint or password when it is asleep. You’ll find the screen lock options under the Security & Location tab of your Android phone’s settings.
- Beef up the strength of your passwords
Yes, remembering lots of passwords with a mixture of numbers, special characters, and upper- and lower-case letters is a pain. But strong, unique passwords are a must for protecting your device. Here are some tips for choosing good passwords for your Google account and the various mobile apps, websites and services you use:
- Use different passwords for each account. That way, if one password is compromised, others will still be safe.
- Longer passwords are better – think in the region of 12 to 16 characters.
- Use a mix of letters, numbers and special characters.
- Avoid info that can easily be guessed, such as common words and phrases, the name of your pet, or your birthdate.
- Password manager apps like Dashlane, LastPass and 1Password give you a single safe place to track of your passwords as well as password generators to create uncrackable passwords. Some even allow you to keep ID numbers, credit card details and other sensitive info in a secure vault to keep them safe.