Secure android phone

In this day and age when our data is always under foreign threat whether it be malware or our phone getting into the hands of pickpockets. We tend to neglect simple practices that help us secure android phone.

Hence, It is essential to safeguard this single most important entity in our lives that not only carries our personal information such as social media credentials, contacts, banking data but also photos and videos of our moments with friends and family. The whole thing could become a painful experience if someone would sneak into our android phone just because we did not activate the most essential security features that came pre-installed in our phone.

Although, there are some customized security features that mobile phone makers introduce with the help of telecom operators but in this tutorial, we are going to explain the first security boundaries that we must play with and implement before thinking about extra measures for keeping the phone away from potential threats. We will try to list down all possible built in features that come with the gadget to show you the way to secure android phone.

We are taking into account 3 phones from different manufacturers including Oppo F5, Huawei Mate 10 Lite, Infinix Note 4 that have a common OS, Android Nougat, on them. Rest of the manufacturers integrate almost similar built-in security features to their respective phones.

For your data’s safety, it is advisable to go through the setting area and activate the security features whenever you buy the phone or if you are already using the one, make sure you checkout any unattended option to secure it.

1- Locking your phone, the first thing

pattern lock on mobile

This is the utmost important and the basic measure that most of the users still don’t adhere to. If you are starting the device first time, the system will ask you to activate the lock.

The simplest way to lock your phone is by setting up the standard modes, the pin codes, passwords, pattern or fingerprint scanners — though, the latter one is more popular today. But face recognition is also inspiring users and after having featured in flagship devices, it is finding its place in some middle order phones too, though, the accuracy to scan faces in this price category is not as strong as in top phones.

But, we still many people stick to the pattern lock. It is just a matter of personal preference whichever you choose. All of them will lead to a secure android phone.

Following images depict the steps to set up security features to secure android phone:

  • Open setting in your phone
  • Scroll to the security options
  • Tap security icon
  • Select the options for device security
  • Choose a suitable mode for your password

The above steps are almost similar in all three mentioned phones.

Infinix Note 4 security settings
Infinix Note 4 security settings
Huawei Mate 10 Lite security settings
Huawei Mate 10 Lite security settings
OPPO F5 security settings
OPPO F5 security settings

( settings>>fingerprint,Face & passcode >> option available for Adding fingerprints, enrolling facial unlock, passcode)

In different android phones, there are brand specific features. As you can see above Huawei Mate 10 Lite and Oppo F5 provide additional features such as facial unlock as opposed to Infinix note 4 which only provides fingerprint scanner and passcode options. In comparison, the other two provide extra security features.

However, while registering your thumb impression the end user is always required to create a pin code. It allows to access the phone if the fingerprint scanner or face recognition fails. It is advisable to either use Pin code or password as a means to secure android phone rather than only relying on facial locks and thumb impressions. The right form of combination would make it less likely to be hacked. Here are ways to make your passwords stronger and stay safe online.

2- Utilizing device encryption

A depiction of the underlying process behind encryption of data

What is device encryption by the way?

Prior to going through the steps concerning device encryption, it is important to know what exactly it is and how it could secure your android phone. The above picture we took from Chrispacia may help us understand that the plaintext we usually type on our screen is converted by the phone software into ciphertext, a random and meaningless text for the user and then decrypted again by the software when someone wants to access that data.

If you are WhatsApp user, you must have noticed the encryption message sometime on the screen which shows that your message are getting encrypted at the time of leaving your mobile phone. These big tech companies encrypt the user’s messages since they find it very important for the safety of data.

Device encryption converts the data stored on your phone in a state which can be read with authentic credentials. Hence every time you reboot your phone, there is a requirement to enter a password or a pin code to decrypt the data stored on your phone. Well, after encryption, you can call your gadget a secure android phone.

If the phone is lost then the only way to enter into your phone is through the encryption key.

Steps to keep in mind while enabling encryption

  • The phone should be either be plugged into a socket or it should be fully charged. If the battery is low there’s a possibility of data loss.
  • It is advised to backup data on your phone to any external memory storage or cloud service.
  • To initiate encryption one has to open settings
  • tap security
  • scroll down and find the encryption tab
Encryption settings in andriod phones
Encryption Settings

3- Relocating your lost phone through Google.

To secure your android phone through Google it should be noted that If the android phone has security pin and smart lock already setup but the phone is misplaced or it has been stolen, the android device manager could be employed to track the misplaced device and the data could be wiped from a distance.

Phone relocating settings
Phone relocating settings

How To Enable It

  • Open settings
  • press Google
  • Scroll and click security
  • Tap option to remotely find your device

4- Pseudo base station blocking

Another feature that is specifically integrated into oppo F5 allows you to block pseudo base station. These are fraudulent groups who act as a formal base station to access your data. This feature allows you to block criminals from sending you fraudulent messages and advertising from unauthentic numbers and from fiddling with your personal data.

The Oppo specific feature plays an important part for securing android phones.

Pseudo base station blocking settings
Pseudo base station blocking settings

5- File specific encryption

Phones like huawei provide extra security features such as encryption of photos, audio, videos and other files separately.

Steps for Setting up encryption of photos , Audio, videos and other files

  • Open settings
  • Click security and privacy option
  • Tap “File safe” option
  • Enable settings
Huawei Mate 10 Lite App Lock Settings
Huawei Mate 10 Lite App Lock Settings

6- Enabling SD card encryption

Another useful feature that we practice very seldom is the SD card encryption that comes in many phones including the Huawei. It is the encryption of the data present on the SD card which is a further measure to secure your android phone. However, data could only be decrypted through your device.

Enabling SD card encryption in Huawei Mate 10 Lite
Enabling SD card encryption in Huawei Mate 10 Lite

Steps to enable SD card encryption

  • Open settings
  • Click security and privacy settings
  • Under security options press “additional settings”
  • Click SD Card encryption to enable settings

7- Unlock your phone with a bluetooth device

The smart unlock features in the Huawei phones allows for controlling the device from a distance by employing Bluetooth technology and selecting the desired method such as a pin or a pattern for a secure android phone. We can set up devices that we want to use to unlock devices.

  • Setup smart lock
  • Open settings
  • Press screen lock and passwords
  • Under password options press “Smart lock ”

Follow the given steps provided in the window that opens up similar to the image below.

 Bluetooth Smart unlocking system
Smart Lock ( Bluetooth unlocking system )

Smart lock option available on Huawei Mate 10 Lite unlocks your Phone with a Bluetooth device.

8- Setting up private space

Another technique used for a secure android phone is to use private space for your important data by keeping it hidden if the device is being shared by somebody else. This feature allows multiple users to utilize the device while maintaining privacy. Whether your children borrow it to play games and you fear that they would fiddle with your files

If you feel uncomfortable that your close colleague or your family member is trying to sneak into your phone, just put your data in a private space inside your phone and no one would ever see it.

How you can do it, it’s easy

  • Open phone settings
  • Click security and privacy option
  • Open private space
Enable Private Space on your phone
Enable Private Space on your phone

9- App lock

Huawei has this special feature for securing your Android phone. If you are concerned with people fiddling with your phone and swiping through your apps. You can simply use the App lock feature present in your phone. To setup, this feature to secure applications following steps should be taken into consideration (Settings>> Privacy Setting>>Applock)

App lock settings in Huawei Mate 10 Lite
Display of accessing app lock settings on Huawei Mate 10 Lite.

10- The security features in android 7.0 Nougat

As opposed to earlier android version where only google play store would prompt a message to the user regarding the permission to install apps, the company has now given wider security control to the end users for securing there android phones. Now we can grant permission for data sharing between apps. It has allowed app security and abuse prevention. In the image below we can see that a message pops-up for granting permission to the app to access files.

This recent crackdown by Google allows the end user more liberty to secure Android phones.

Security prompts while in app exchange of information
Security prompts while in app exchange of information.

11- Direct boot

According to the Android security centre, the direct boot would verify that the phones software has not tampered which is crucial for a secure android phone. It would ensure that the software comes from a trusted source. The phone users who have encrypted their devices would no longer be required to insert a security code after the reboot.

Also, they are not required to wait for the lengthy process to restart the entire system. Passcode would be required to access data using the apps after the phone has rebooted.

We hope by following these steps to secure android phone and by being aware of current changes in the android system would definitely give you a sigh of relief. It is crucial for us to safeguard our data while there’s a constant threat lurking around our sensitive data.

We would like to know more ways for securing the device, please do send us your recommendations through comments and we will be happy to update our knowledge.

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