Skip to main content

4 Android security settings you should use

You want your Android device to be as safe as possible, right? Well, anyone who’s worried about the security of their smartphone, or the data on it, should make sure that the following four settings are turned on. We’ve also got some bonus security tips to follow these – so read on.

1. Enable Lock Screen

Under Settings, Security, you’ll find the Screen Lock option. If it’s not already on by default, make sure it is – and enable Face Unlock, Pattern, PIN, or Password to increase physical security to the device. Slide doesn't do anything to prevent a stranger from getting into your phone, of course.

2. Disable USB Debugging

This is under Settings, USB Debugging. When enabled, the data on mobile devices can be accessed without first passing a lock screen challenge unless Full Disk Encryption is also enabled. Speaking of which…

3. Enable Full Disk Encryption

You can turn this on under Settings, Security. This will prevent even USB Debugging from bypassing the lock screen.

4. Ensure your device is up to date

Ensure the device is current with the latest official software. Unfortunately, users are largely beholden to their carrier and cell phone manufacturer when it comes to this, but when you are finally prompted to upgrade your operating system, do so. Using only official software and keeping devices up-to-date is the best way to minimise vulnerabilities and increase security overall. The other caveat is that your device may not support the latest version of Android – and then, it might be time to start thinking about your next upgrade.

Bonus tips

Stick to Google Play for your apps, and avoid dodgy looking third-party app stores. This is far less likely, but an attacker can also discover your PIN lock (which is necessary for him to root your phone) if you accidentally install a malicious app that records your personal data, including PIN. Most malicious apps are distributed through shady Chinese/Russian app stores.

And always read through app permissions, as malicious apps typically make unusual requests. Most mobile security apps, like McAfee Mobile, Lookout Mobile, and F-Secure Mobile Security, come with an app auditing feature to help you keep tabs on permission requests.