12 Android settings that’ll strengthen your security

You won’t comprehend it from all of the panic-inducing headlines on the market, however Android is definitely full of sensible and highly effective safety choices. Some are activated by default and defending you whether or not you understand it or not, whereas others are extra out of the way in which however equally deserving of your consideration.

So cease losing your time worrying concerning the Android malware monster du jour and which safety firm is utilizing it to scare you into an pointless subscription, and take a second as an alternative to look by these much more impactful Android settings — starting from core system-level parts to some extra superior and simply missed choices.

Make your means by these 12 particular Android settings, then make your means over to my Android Intelligence publication to get three unique bonus suggestions in your favourite topic this second.

Prepared? Prepared. Let’s do that:

Android setting No. 1: App permissions

A hardly ever spoken actuality of Android safety is that your individual negligence — both in failing to correctly safe your system indirectly or in leaving open too many home windows that enable third-party apps entry to your data — is way extra more likely to be problematic than any method of malware or scary-sounding boogeyman.

So let’s deal with the primary a part of that proper off the bat, we could? Regardless of what some sensational tales would possibly lead you to consider, Android apps are by no means capable of entry your private information or any a part of your cellphone except you explicitly give ’em the go-ahead to take action. And whilst you cannot undo something that is already occurred (except you occur to personal a time-traveling DeLorean — wherein case, nice Scott, drop me a line), you can return and revisit all of your app permissions to verify all the things’s in tip-top form for the long run.

That is advisable to do periodically, anyway, and significantly now — as the previous few Android variations have included some essential new app permission choices.

Particularly, now you can let apps entry your location solely after they’re actively in use, as an alternative of on a regular basis (as of Android 10); you’ll be able to approve sure permissions solely on a one-time, limited-use foundation (as of Android 11); and you’ll decide how detailed of a view any given app will get of your location once you grant it that entry (as of Android 12). However any apps that have been already in your cellphone by the point these upgrades arrived would’ve already had full, unrestricted entry to these areas of your system. And it is as much as you to revisit ’em and replace their settings as wanted.

So do that: Head into the Privateness part of your Android settings and discover the “Permission supervisor” line. That’ll present you an inventory of all obtainable system permissions, together with particularly delicate areas reminiscent of location, digicam, and microphone — the identical three areas, by the way, that may be restricted to one-time use solely on any cellphone operating no less than Android 11. (And for those who do not see a “Permission supervisor” possibility in your cellphone, attempt wanting within the Apps part as an alternative. You’ll be able to then pull up one app at a time there and discover its permissions that means.) 

Android Settings: Permissions list JR

Faucet on a selected permission, and you will see a breakdown of precisely which apps are approved to make use of it in what means.

Android Settings: Location permission JR

You’ll be able to then faucet on any app to regulate its stage of entry and convey it down a notch, when relevant, or take away its entry to the permission solely — and, for those who’ve obtained Android 12 or greater, additionally choose whether or not the app ought to get entry to your exact location or solely a far much less particular approximate view of the place you might be.

Android Settings: Location permission options JR

If there’s one part of your Android settings value spending the time to revisit, that is for sure it.

Android setting No. 2: Play Defend

Talking of apps in your cellphone, this can be a effective time to speak about Google Play Defend — Android’s native safety system that, amongst different issues, repeatedly scans your cellphone for any indicators of misbehaving apps and warns you if something suspicious emerges.

(And sure, it does typically fail to detect shady gamers instantly — one thing that will get performed as much as a comedic diploma in these deceptive advertising campaigns — however even in these situations, the real-world menace to most folk is usually fairly minimal.)

Until you (or another person) inadvertently disabled it in some unspecified time in the future, Play Defend ought to be up and operating in your cellphone already — however it actually cannot damage to double-check and ensure.

To take action, simply open up the Safety part of your Android settings. Faucet the road labeled both “Google Play Defend” or “App safety,” then faucet the gear icon within the upper-right nook and ensure the toggles there are activated.

Again on the principle Play Defend display screen, you may see a standing replace exhibiting you that the system is lively and operating. It really works solely by itself, mechanically, however you’ll be able to at all times set off a guide scan of your apps on that very same web page, for those who’re ever so inclined (or possibly simply bored).

Android Settings: Google Play Protect JR

Android setting No. 3: Protected Looking

Chrome is often the default Android browser — and so long as you are utilizing it, you’ll be able to relaxation just a little simpler figuring out it’s going to warn you anytime you attempt to open a shady website or obtain one thing harmful.

Whereas Chrome’s Protected Looking mode is enabled by default, although, the app has a more recent and more practical model of the identical system referred to as Enhanced Protected Looking. And it is as much as you to decide in to it.

Here is how:

  • Open up Chrome in your cellphone.
  • Faucet the three-dot menu icon within the app’s upper-right nook and choose “Settings” from the menu that comes up.
  • Faucet “Privateness and safety,” then choose “Protected Looking.”
  • Faucet the dot subsequent to “Enhanced safety” on the following display screen you see.

When you’re there, again your self out to the principle Chrome settings menu and choose “Security test.” That’ll reveal a useful one-tap software for scanning your varied browser settings and saved passwords and letting you realize of something that wants consideration.

Android setting No. 4: Lock display screen data

If another person ever will get their sweaty paws in your cellphone, you don’t need ’em to have the ability to entry any of your private and/or firm data — proper?

Properly, take notice: Android usually reveals notifications in your lock display screen by default — which suggests the contents of emails or different messages you obtain may be seen to anybody who appears to be like at your system, even when they cannot unlock it.

When you are inclined to get delicate messages or simply wish to step up your safety and privateness recreation, you’ll be able to limit how a lot notification data is proven in your lock display screen by going to the Privateness part of your Android settings, tapping the road labeled “Notifications on lock display screen,” after which altering its setting from “Present all notification content material” to both “Present delicate content material solely when unlocked” (which is able to filter your notifications and put solely these deemed as “not delicate” onto the lock display screen) or “Do not present notifications in any respect” (which, as you’d count on, won’t present any notifications in your lock display screen in any respect).

When you’re utilizing a Samsung cellphone, you may discover those self same choices throughout the devoted Lock Display screen part of the system settings — although, sadly, with much less nuance concerned (as Samsung has for no obvious motive eliminated the “delicate” notification differentiation from the settings on its model of Android).

And talking of the lock display screen…

Android setting No. 5: Lock display screen controls

By default, Android makes all the shortcuts in your cellphone’s Fast Settings space — y’know, that panel of one-tap tiles that reveals up once you swipe down from the highest of the display screen — obtainable even when the system is locked.

Something that takes you to a different space of the working system will nonetheless require authentication, in fact, however the easy on-off tiles might be tapped and toggled by anybody who’s holding the cellphone.

As a rule, that is an added comfort. Say you wish to flip in your cellphone’s Bluetooth for a quick connection, as an example, or flash in your flashlight to search out that stray tacky poof that slipped out of your sticky grabbers and fell onto the ground. Having the ability to do these issues with a pair fast faucets and with out having to unlock your cellphone can actually be useful.

On the similar time, although, it might probably additionally enable somebody else to do one thing like change your cellphone’s sound settings, disable its Wi-Fi connection, and even put it into airplane mode. And for those who’re actually aiming for the tightest safety obtainable, you in all probability don’t need that form of stuff to be potential.

Here is the excellent news: When you’ve obtained a tool with a latest Android model, you’ll be able to take management and switch these controls off within the lock display screen setting. With Android 12 and up, march into the Show part of your Android settings and faucet “Lock display screen.” Flip the toggle subsequent to the “Present system controls” possibility into the off place, then make a celebratory squawking sound and get your self a soda.

With Samsung telephones, you may as an alternative want to move into the Lock Display screen part of your settings and faucet the road labeled “Safe lock settings.” There, you may discover an choice to “Lock community and safety,” which prevents any network-related toggles from being utilized in that context. (Samsung stripped out the flexibility to lock down all Fast Settings tiles, sadly, however the network-connected are in all probability an important when it comes to safety, anyway.)

Android setting No. 6: Sensible Lock

Safety is barely helpful for those who truly use it — and given the additional stage of inconvenience it typically provides into our lives, it is all too straightforward to let our guards down and get lazy after some time.

Android’s Sensible Lock characteristic is designed to counteract that tendency by making safety a teensy bit much less annoying. It will possibly allow you to mechanically preserve your cellphone unlocked everytime you’re in a trusted place — like your property, your workplace, or that weird-smelling restaurant the place you eat barbeque sandwiches nearly disgustingly typically — and even once you’re related to a trusted Bluetooth system, like a smartwatch, some earbuds, or your automobile’s audio system.

Android Settings: Smart Lock JR

Relying in your system, you may wish to search for the “Display screen Lock” possibility within the Safety part of your Android settings (with older Android variations), look below “Superior settings” throughout the Safety part (with Android 12), or look within the Lock Display screen part of your settings (on a Samsung cellphone) to discover the chances.

And for those who ever discover the Trusted Locations a part of Sensible Lock is not working reliably, by the way in which, here is the 60-second repair.

Android setting No. 7: Two-factor authentication

This subsequent one’s technically a Google account possibility and never particular to Android, however it’s very a lot related to Android and your total smartphone expertise.

You understand what two-factor authentication is by now, proper? And also you’re utilizing it all over the place you’ll be able to — particularly in your Google account, which might be related to all types of delicate information? RIGHT?!

When you aren’t, by golly, now’s the time to start out. Hustle over to the Google part of your Android settings, faucet “Handle your Google Account,” after which scroll throughout that high row to pick the “Safety” tab. Discover and faucet “2-Step Verification” and observe the steps to set issues up.

For most individuals, I might suggest utilizing your cellphone’s personal “Safety Key” possibility because the default methodology, if it is obtainable, adopted by “Google prompts” and an authenticator app as secondary strategies. For that final half, you may must obtain and arrange an app like Google’s personal Authenticator or the extra versatile Authy to generate your sign-in codes.

When you actually wish to take your Google account safety to the max, you may also go a step additional and buy a particular standalone {hardware} key that’ll management the method and be required for any profitable sign-in to happen.

It will add an additional step into your sign-in course of, however that is one space the place the minor inconvenience may be very a lot well worth the tradeoff for enhanced safety.

Android setting No. 8: Lockdown mode

Offered you are utilizing a cellphone with Android 9 or greater (and for those who aren’t, switching over to a present cellphone that really will get lively software program updates needs to be your high safety precedence!), an Android setting referred to as lockdown mode is effectively value your whereas to analyze. As soon as enabled, it offers you a simple approach to quickly lock down your cellphone from all biometric and Sensible Lock safety choices — which means solely a sample, PIN, or password can get an individual previous your lock display screen and into your system.

The thought is that for those who have been ever in a state of affairs the place you thought you may be pressured to unlock your cellphone together with your fingerprint or face — be it by some form of regulation enforcement agent or simply by a daily ol’ hooligan — you could possibly activate the lockdown mode and know your information could not be accessed with out your specific permission. No notifications will ever present up in your lock display screen whereas the mode is lively, and that heightened stage of safety will stay in place till you manually unlock your cellphone (even when the system is restarted).

The trick, although, is that on sure telephones — significantly those who shipped with earlier Android variations and have been upgraded to Android 9 in some unspecified time in the future — you need to allow the choice forward of time to ensure that it to be obtainable. To substantiate that it is activated in your system, open up your Android settings, seek for the phrase lockdown, and ensure the toggle alongside “Present lockdown possibility” is about to the on place.

When you’re utilizing a present cellphone and do not see any outcomes for that search, the choice might be simply mechanically enabled — and also you should not should do something to make it obtainable.

Both means, as soon as the system’s up and operating, it is best to see a command labeled both “Lockdown” or “Lockdown mode” anytime you press and maintain your cellphone’s energy button. Optimistically, you may by no means want it. Nevertheless it’s added layer of safety to have obtainable, simply in case — and now you know the way to search out it.

Android setting No. 9: App pinning

One in every of Android’s most sensible settings can also be considered one of its most hidden. I am talkin’ about app pinning — one thing launched means again in 2014’s Lollipop period and infrequently talked about since.

App pinning makes it potential so that you can lock a single app or course of to your cellphone after which require a password or fingerprint authentication earlier than anything might be accessed. It may be invaluable once you go your cellphone off to a pal or colleague and wish to be certain they do not unintentionally (or possibly not so unintentionally) get into one thing they should not.

To make use of app pinning, you may first must activate it by opening that trusty ol’ Safety part in your Android settings after which discovering the road labeled “App pinning,” “Display screen pinning,” or presumably “Pin home windows.” (You may in all probability should faucet a line labeled “Superior settings” or “Different safety settings” to disclose it.) Faucet these phrases, no matter they’re in your particular system, then flip the characteristic on and in addition make certain the toggle to “Ask for unlock sample earlier than unpinning” is activated.

Then, the following time you are about to put your cellphone in another person’s grubby palms, first open up your system Overview interface — both by swiping up from the underside of your display screen and holding your finger down, for those who’re utilizing Android’s gesture system, or by urgent the square-shaped button, for those who’re nonetheless hanging onto the old-school three-button nav setup.

On any cellphone operating fairly latest software program, you may then faucet the icon of the app you wish to pin, immediately above its card in that Overview space. And there, it is best to see the Pin possibility.

Android Settings: App pinning JR

As soon as you’ve got tapped that, you will not be capable to change apps, return to your property display screen, take a look at notifications, or do anything till you exit the pinning and unlock the system. To try this, with gestures, you may swipe up from the underside of your display screen and maintain your finger down — and with the previous three-button nav setup, you may press the Again and Overview buttons on the similar time.

Android setting No. 10: Visitor Mode

If you wish to go a step additional and let another person use all components of your cellphone with out ever encountering your private data or with the ability to mess something up, Android has an unbelievable system that’ll allow you to do exactly that — with subsequent to no ongoing effort concerned.

It is referred to as Visitor Mode, and it has been round since 2014, even though most folk have utterly forgotten about it. For an in depth walkthrough of what it is all about and how one can put it to make use of, see my separate Android Visitor Mode information.

Simply notice that if in case you have a Samsung cellphone, that information will not do you a lot good — as Samsung has for no obvious motive opted to take away this commonplace working system aspect from its software program (insert tangentially associated soapbox rant right here). On Google’s personal Pixel telephones and plenty of different Android gadgets, although, it’s going to take you all of 20 seconds to arrange and prepare.

Android setting No. 11: Discover My System

Whether or not you’ve got merely misplaced your cellphone round the home or workplace otherwise you’ve truly misplaced it out within the wild, at all times do not forget that Android has its personal built-in mechanism for locating, ringing, locking, and even erasing a tool from afar.

Like Play Defend, the Android Discover My System characteristic needs to be enabled by default. You can also make certain by heading into the Safety part of your Android settings and tapping the road labeled “Discover My System.” Double-check that the toggle on the high of the display screen is turned on.

Utilizing a Samsung cellphone? Samsung gives its personal superfluous, redundant service referred to as Discover My Cellular, however the native Google Android model will convey all of your gadgets — not solely these made by Samsung — collectively right into a single place. and it is also way more versatile in how and the place it is capable of work. On a Samsung system, the best approach to discover the Android Discover My System setting is to go looking your system settings for the phrase Discover My System.

As soon as you’ve got confirmed the setting is enabled, for those who ever want to trace your cellphone down, simply go to android.com/discover from any browser or do a Google seek for “discover my system.” (There’s additionally an official Discover My System Android app, if in case you have one other Android system and wish to preserve that perform standing by and prepared.)

So long as you are capable of signal into your Google account, you can pinpoint your cellphone’s final recognized location on a map and handle it remotely inside a matter of seconds.

Android setting No. 12: Emergency contact

Discover My System is a implausible useful resource to have — however in sure conditions, you would possibly get a lacking cellphone again even sooner with the assistance of a fellow human.

Give folks an opportunity to do the fitting factor by including an emergency contact that may be accessed and dialed with a number of fast faucets out of your cellphone’s lock display screen. To begin, go to both the About Cellphone part of your Android settings or the Security & Emergency part, if in case you have it, after which discover and faucet the road labeled both “Emergency data” or “Emergency contacts.”

Comply with the prompts there so as to add in an emergency contact — an in depth pal, member of the family, important different, random raccoon, or no matter is sensible for you. (Hey, I am not right here to evaluate.)

Android Settings: Emergency contacts JR

Straightforward peasy, proper? Properly, nearly: The one problem is that the emergency contact data is not precisely apparent or easy to search out on the lock display screen — go determine — so anybody who picks up your cellphone won’t even discover it.

However wait! You’ll be able to improve the percentages significantly with one additional step: Head into the Show part of your settings and faucet “Lock display screen” (which can be hidden inside an “Superior” subsection, relying in your system), then faucet the road labeled “Add textual content on lock display screen.” 

Nonetheless you get there, as soon as you end up going through a clean area for textual content enter, enter one thing alongside the traces of: “When you’ve discovered this cellphone, please swipe up after which faucet ‘Emergency name’ and ‘View emergency data’ to inform me.”

That message will then at all times present up in your lock display screen — and as an added bonus, if there’s ever an precise emergency, you may be prepared for that, too.

Utilizing a Samsung cellphone? For no obvious motive (sensing a theme right here?), Samsung has eliminated the direct emergency contact system and as an alternative provides solely the flexibility to put plain textual content in your lock display screen. You could find that, although, by making your means into the Lock Display screen part of your system settings and on the lookout for the road labeled “Contact data” — and there, you’ll be able to simply kind in your emergency contact data immediately and hope that somebody finds it after which dials it from their very own cellphone.

Another factor…

Now that you have your Android safety settings optimized and so as, take 10 minutes to carry out an Android safety checkup. It is a 16-step course of I’ve created for the state of safety on each your cellphone and your broader Google account — and it is effectively value doing no less than yearly.

One of the best a part of this checkup? It is utterly painless — and in contrast to with most preventative exams, eradicating your pants is solely optionally available.

Get much more Googley information with my Android Intelligence publication — three new issues to attempt each Friday and three customized suggestions in your favourite matter proper now.

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