5 tips to help keep your Android device more secure

Taylor Martin
 from Concord, NC
Published: January 19, 2011

Over the last few years, we have transitioned from using our computers for simple daily tasks to cell phones. As a result, our phones have become our personalized lifelines. Never leaving our sides, we use them for everything from keeping in touch with friends, family, and work to checking our Fantasy Football team's progress. As smartphones and tablets become more prevalent in the world, something that will increasingly be a problem is security.

While these security concerns haven't fully migrated to the mobile realm, it is a growing issue. We all store very personal information on our phones like contacts, passwords, etc. - information that people will go to great lengths to get their hands on. So how do we protect ourselves from it being taken right out from under our noses? Here are five easy tips that will help keep your information safe.

 

Read the permissions before installing

The beauty of Android is that before installing an application, you must allow any permissions that an application will need. Be wary of anything suspicious when installing an application. If a fart app is asking for permissions to your contact list or phone call logs, you may want to consider avoiding that specific application.

 

Download from trusted sources

One way to avoid these risks is to only download applications from trusted sources (i.e.: Android Market). With it being open source, this doesn't eliminate the risk of a malware application being available in the Market, but like I said above, you are in charge of all permissions that each application has access to. Be sure to read those before installing an application you're unsure of. Also, do a little research on the developer (check their website or other applications) if you are skeptical of their application.

 

Store information in the cloud

The most obvious way to keep critical information safe is to keep it off of the device itself. Store it in the cloud, or on your personal computer. Carrying around extremely important information on a phone is a ticking time bomb. You risk either losing your phone and that info finding its way to the wrong hands or installing the wrong application that targets such info.

 

Mobile Security applications

I'm far from a prophet for security applications, but Lookout is one of the few that I have tried out, just to see what they have to offer. It has never turned up any spyware or malware apps, and I assume it might be some time before it ever does. However, it has revealed some applications that have some suspicious permissions, like a soundboard reading my location information. It isn't likely that it's anything to worry about, but it is alarming nonetheless. Downloading either Lookout, SmrtGuard, or any other reputable mobile security applications is a good idea. Many of them are free and offer wireless backup options, GPS locators for stolen or lost phones, remote wiping, and security checks. You can never be too safe or prepared.

 

Keep up-to-date on mobile security concerns

If there is a high-priority risk, it typically hits the mobile news headlines, but not always. For instance, just over a week ago, Lookout informed users of a Trojan Virus, codenamed Gemini, affecting Android users in China. Adding their blog or any other mobile security blog to your RSS reader will keep you updated on important security information.

There are other ways to protect your information, but for now these should cover the basics. Security isn't exactly a major problem in the mobile world yet, but eventually it will be. More and more users are migrating to mobile computing everyday, it's only a matter of time before malicious software moves accordingly. Being prepared and knowing the risks is your safest bet. What are some precautions you take to avoid such security risks?

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