Android occupies a whopping 70% of device market share of all smart devices on the Internet. Along with Windows (which has an even larger 89% estimated marketshare on desktop PCs), Android is easily one of the most-used operating systems on the market.
Because of this, Android is often targeted for security exploits. Due to Android’s great fragmentation, this means even devices that are on the cutting edge might not be getting updates fast enough to protect from all the malicious parties threatening your privacy and security.
Widespread news stories of government-sponsored surveillance, state-sponsored international espionage and huge corporate security breaches color the conversation around privacy and security. Android phones can contain bank information, credit and debit card information, passwords to web services, and other personal information.
If you’re worried about your privacy, the first step should be to secure your most-used device. For many people that equals their Android smartphone. Let’s get your device secured.
Secure Your Mobile Browsing
For those of you familiar with Tor, seeing the above image likely has you already sighing in exasperation. Don’t worry, I’m not just going to say “use Tor” and be done with it. Orbot is an effective mobile Tor solution, but what about people who don’t want to use Tor’s network for their day-to-day browsing?
They can use FireFox, of course. Mobile FireFox allows the installation of two key extensions: uBlock and HTTPS Everywhere. Using Mobile FireFox with these extensions will make your mobile browsing experience significantly more secure, and faster too, thanks to the adblocker!
Secure Your Phone’s Storage
Using a newer version of Android, like Android Marshmallow or Android N? Just head over to your phone’s options and enable encryption!
Of course, not everyone is that lucky. If you aren’t using a newer version of Android, you’re going to need to use a third-party application to encrypt files on your Android device. Check out Mahesh’s article for a tutorial on encrypting your device files with Andrognito 2!
Secure Your Communications
Android, fortunately, has no shortage of encrypted messaging services. The downside of using security-oriented messengers is that the other party has to use them, too, which hurts the adoption of many of these programs. Regardless, if you’re truly concerned about securing your communications, you should get an encrypted messenger.
Derrik Diener wrote a great article on Telegram and two other excellent encrypted messaging options for Android. I recommend heading over there if that’s what you’re interested in.
As for more mainstream solutions, Google’s Allo and Facebook Messenger will both soon be offering opt-in end-to-end encryption. It’s not just users like you who are worried about privacy – the biggest tech companies are, too.
Avoiding Malicious Applications
Malware has a big effect on your privacy. Malware is frequently designed with the intention of stealing your personal data for profit, so of course you want to make sure nothing like that is getting onto your Android device.
A simple step forward in that direction is simply heading into your device options and disabling “App installation from unknown sources.” This is enabled by default, but it’s safe to double-check in case you’ve ever installed non-Market apps and forgotten about it.
Of course, anti-virus apps also exist on Android. Check those out if you want a software solution to this issue.
Android’s arguably one of the biggest, most-fragmented operating systems on the market. But just like any system, the right steps can secure both your device and your privacy. I hope this article helped you do that!
If you have any questions, concern or advice, add your input to the comments. We’d love to hear from you.
Image Credit: Orbot
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