BEST Practices for a Secure Android Phone

What does smartphone security even mean? It could mean that deleted data remains unrecoverable. If that is your definition of security, the Blackberry 10 phones might be a good choice. But perhaps security refers to the fact that no unauthorized person can get into your phone and access your data. For that, the NSA and FBI might recommend the iPhone.

Whatever your definition of smartphone security, it probably doesn’t include Android being atop the list of the most secure. To hear it told by the media, writing your Social Security number, password, and credit card information on the outside of your phone will make it only slightly easier for the bad guys.

Security is easily the most misunderstood aspect of the modern smartphone. There is a large number of people on every platform who think they are completely secure when they really aren’t. There are an equal number of people fretting over being insecure when they really are perfectly safe.

The truth is that security is a marketplace that only thrives when fear is successfully peddled. Unfortunately, that fear can be easily peddled due to the fact that there are so many credible threats. But the greater truth is that you are a low-value target, and practically no body wants your stuff. Being one in 7 billion greatly decreases your chances of being targeted.

But obscurity is not the only defense you have. There are other things besides not becoming popular, that you can do to make sure that, as an Android user, you are just as secure as anyone else. Here are a few BEST practices:

Use Antivirus

Sorry to break it to you, but smartphones are really just pocket computers. Computers are targets for viruses and Malware. Because Android is the biggest computing platform in the world, it is also the biggest target.

The inconvenient truth is that almost 100% of mobile malware is written for Android. It is common place enough that it is not even interesting to read about a new Android virus, malware, or trojan. You need antivirus software. Sorry.

The good news is that there are some excellent products on the market that do more than monitor for viruses. TrendMicro makes an antivirus package that also:

  • Secures your device and protects your data
  • Blocks malicious apps from Google Play before they are installed – COMING SOON
  • Guards against identity theft and viruses
  • Blocks dangerous and fraudulent websites
  • Protects your privacy on Facebook
  • Protects kids online

There are more threats than viruses. And you need to make sure you have software that can handle them. The bad guys are computer experts, and have software that can run on your phone. You are not an expert. Running a good security program can swing the balance of power in your favor.

Use Google Play

It’s great to have choice. That is one of the biggest selling points of the Android platform. But choice has a dark side. The more choice you have, the more expertise you need. More choice also means more vectors of attack for the bad guys.

The best thing you can do to restrict your chances of getting viruses and such, is to restrict your app shopping to the Google Play store. Google scans all apps for malware, and actively removes apps found to have malware after the fact. The vast majority of malicious apps come from other apps stores outside of Google Play.

Don’t Take Candy from Strangers

Two years ago, AndroidCentral reported on a situation where Android malware was being distributed through Facebook. They gave the following advice which still holds true today:

  • Don’t interact with random people on Facebook
  • Don’t click random URLs from random people
  • Don’t install random apps that you didn’t download

It mostly involves common sense precautions that can be summed up as, “Don’t take candy from strangers”. Many of the bad things happen when greed gets the better of us, and we try to get something for nothing. That usually ends badly on any platform.

Following these BEST practices will almost certainly guarantee you will stay perfectly secure. But there is a small gap between “almost” and “certainly”. Fortunately, that gap can be easily filled with just a little vigilance.

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