8 Important Security Tips For Android Users

Follow these steps to keep your Android device safe

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Android security is often in the news. If you use an Android device, you're probably concerned about the various threats that have surfaced. It essential that you keep your smartphone safe, but it need not be an expensive or complicated process. Here are a few simple steps you can take to protect your device without spending a lot (or even any) money.

The directions below should apply no matter who made your Android phone: Samsung, Google, Huawei, Xiaomi, etc.

1. Only Install Trusted Apps

Google Play Store on Android

Google offers four security tips on its Safety First blog, one of which is to use Google Play to download apps. That's a smart tip though there are other secure alternatives, such as Amazon Underground, and Samsung and other hardware manufacturer app stores. If you find an app you like in another third-party store, be sure to do your due diligence: vet the app maker and check reviews before downloading.

2. Install A Security App

Avira Free Antivirus on Android

Speaking of apps, consider downloading a security app to protect your smartphone or tablet from malware. Avira Antivirus Security is a good place to start. The free version contains antivirus capabilities and a few other useful features. Then, there are paid features and additional free apps, which act like modules for other features. The list of security apps also includes paid apps, such as Bitdefender ($15 per year), Kaspersky ($14.95 per year), and AVG ($11.99).

3. Root Your Device

Android root with Magisk

This one is somewhat of a double-edged sword. Rooting, of course, lets you take control of your device, including installing robust security software and gaining early access to Android software updates, which often include security patches. Keeping your software up to date is a great way to avoid Android vulnerabilities. On the flip side, you now have apps with the ability to escalate their permissions. If you aren't careful, things can go seriously wrong. Rooting is a great option, provided you understand the risks.

4. Lock Your Screen

Android lock screen settings

Lock up your screen using a password, PIN, pattern, or fingerprint. While it can be annoying to keep unlocking your phone, it's a good practice to block would-be snoopers. You can also customize your lock screen to surface notifications and other information.

5. Set Up Find My Device

Google Find My Device on Android

Set up Google Find My Device. The tool lets you lock your phone remotely, track its location, and wipe away all data if you lose the device. It's easy and fast, and you won't regret it the next time you misplace your device. Note that the location tracking requires that you have location settings enabled, which will drain your battery faster.

6. Check Your App Permissions

Android app permissions

Check your app permissions. With Android Marshmallow and later, you can customize what your apps have access to, and view and adjust those permissions in your settings. While you're at it, do some clean up: delete apps you never use, and free up valuable space on your device.

7. Encrypt The Device

Android encryption settings

Another Google tip is to encrypt your device's data (files, images, apps, etc.). You can check this in your settings, under security. Google encrypts Pixel devices by default, but you'll have to turn it on with most other devices. Note that this process may take over an hour, and you'll need to plug in your device, so it's best to start this process before turning in for the night. Encrypting your phone requires that you use a password or your fingerprint to unlock your device.

8. Don't Talk to Strangers

Android sketchy text message

Be skeptical: don't click on links sent to you from unknown numbers or email addresses. Instead, delete the content immediately. While some of these links are harmless; most are not. 

These tips will go a long way towards keeping your Android smartphone or tablet safe. In the meantime, stay up to date on security flaws and threats so that you can take the necessary security precautions.