Your Android device may contain vital information about your personal life as well as your business. If you’re going to be putting any confidential or sensitive data on your phone or other mobile device, it’s very important that you take some steps to protect yourself. The Android platform gives you a variety of tools that you can use to keep yourself safe, but there are also some habits that you should develop.

1. Avoid saving your passwords directly on your device.

Things can happen; your mobile device could fall directly into the wrong hands or it might get lost completely. If this does happen, and your passwords have all been saved on the platform, you may find that all of your accounts become compromised at once. Any time an alert pops up asking whether you want the password to be remembered, decline.

The moment of convenience is simply not worth potentially giving up important data. You should also avoid using the same password repetitively — a person will only need to guess your password once to gain access to all your accounts.

2. Always lock your phone.

A surprising number of individuals don’t lock their devices or phones at all. Android devices are the easiest of all types of device to lock because they offer you multiple options: you can use a password, pin, pattern or a face unlock. Regardless of which one you select, the important thing is to select one. You should also remotely lock your device if you lose it, immediately upon realizing it’s gone.

Backing up your phone often will also mean that you can wipe your phone remotely without losing any data. This is something you may want to consider if there’s sensitive information on your phone, or if you use your phone heavily for work.

3. Install a security system.

A security system, such as an antivirus scanning system, is the best way to ensure that no malicious code is run on your device. It’s important for you to always have a security system on your Android because the Android OS is more open than other similar operating systems, such as Apple’s iOS. There are a myriad of different security options available — the most important thing is that it always be running.

You should also avoid installing any applications that don’t come from reputable and known companies, and you should never click on links or applications within your device that are sent to you via email or instant messenger.

4. Only use a secured network.

Using public wi-fi can be incredibly dangerous for a variety of reasons. A public wi-fi connection is unsecured, and thus it may lead to sharing sensitive or confidential data. Before connecting to any wireless connection, ensure that it is secured — a secured connection will have a locking icon next to it and will require a password to connect to it.

When communicating with websites — and transmitting important data — you should also make sure that the website is using an SSL certificate. You can tell because the URL will contain “https” rather than just “http.”

5. Understand how to use permissions.

The Android OS is very different from other operating systems, such as the iPhone OS. It allows you to set different permissions based on what each application can actually access. As an example, you could prevent certain applications from connecting to your photos, contacts or other personal information. It’s always ideal to restrict access of your applications to only what they absolutely need. This type of granular security control is essential to protecting yourself, especially if you often install a lot of applications.

The Android OS can be just as secure as any other platform; it is simply that it takes more effort to secure. “The beauty of the Android OS is that it is so incredibly open,” according to Android expert for Armor for Android Scott Garcia. “However, the openness of the platform does mean that you have some additional concerns.” As an Android user, you must be very conscientious about the applications you install and the actions that you take.

More and more people today are using their devices to control virtually every part of their lives, from banking to business, making security a primary concern.

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About Author: James Green is a security researcher for antivirus company, Armor for Android. James has worked in the Android security field for several years and provides privacy and security advice to Android users.  James has a fondness for hockey and microbrews.

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