7 Essential Tools for Android That Will Boost Your Personal Security

Author: Vladimir Ghilien

Last updated: June 19, 2017

Most articles and blog posts written on the topic of Android security concentrate on malware-scanning solutions, usch as Norton, AVG, and Lookout. However, with the protection layers already embedded into the platform, those kinds of applications are mostly unnecessary and frequently inefficient, or even unnecessarily expensive.

For majority of Android users, the seven tools described in this post should provide all the necessary information about all the significant bases of gadget and data security. However, they all will protect the personal data in understandable ways, while not compromising on device performance. Moreover, all of them, except just one, are free.

In case you are an enterprise-level user, your firm can demand additional protection layers in order to secure shared data and part personal info from corporate data, but this is a totally different story.

Long story short, to get through the list you should tighten your Google account security settings up and take deep, calm breaths, as security isn’t necessarily a scary thing.


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Tool #1. Android’s Native System of Screen Pinning

This tool is most often overlooked, even though it is one of the most useful tools. Screen pinning debuted with the release of Google’s Android 5.0 back in 2014. However, most of Android-gadget owners have either completely forgotten about it or never even thought the tool existed at all.

Now, let’s right this wrong. Screen pinning is meant for those times, when you intend to give your device to someone to take a look at a picture, check something out on a website, or even to make a quick phone call, but you don’t want them to poke around, getting into your private stuff.

Take a moment and make certain the feature is activated right now, so it will be at hand, when you need it. For this, you have to go to the Security section in your system settings and find the “Screen pinning” option. You need to tap this line, and then see if the toggles next to both “Ask for unlock pattern before pinning” and “On” are activated.

Now, the next time you have to give your gadget to someone, open the app you want them to access, at first. After this, tap the “Recent Apps” key (typically an icon in the shape of a square right next to the “Home” key). Your application should be the first in the list of the most

The next time you need to pass your phone to someone, first open the app you want them to be able to use. Then tap the Recent Apps key (the typically square-shaped icon next to the Home key). Your app should be in front as the most recently opened app; just scroll upwards until you see a circular pushpin icon.

So, you just tap this pushpin and it’s all done! Your gadget is now locked to that app alone, and nothing else. In other words, if you want to do anything else on the gadget, you’ll have to tap and hold the Back and the Overview key at once and then enter your password, pattern, or PIN in order to continue.

Tool #2. A Password Management Application

Probably the greatest private security risk of all is the use of frequently repeated or weak passwords. An average user has about a million of passwords to their name nowadays, and it’s almost impossible to make sure that each and every one of them is strong enough… at least, without some help.

Welcome the hero that your device deserves: LastPass. It is a password management app that makes it generating and storing strong passwords for each website you sign into plain and simple. The app will even fill the passwords in for you throughout all the apps on your gadget, whether laptop, desktop computer, tablet or phone. The program utilizes advanced encryption techniques to keep your personal data safe. All you must do is remember the one secure password that you’ll use to unlock your vault at each session’s beginning.

You’ll have to pay $12 a year for the full premium version of LastPass. There are also other somewhat popular password managers, like Dashlane and 1Password, although the former costs $40 a year for the full feature package and the latter is less user-friendly and polished, comparing to LastPass.

Tool #3. A Utility for Two-Factor Authentication

It doesn’t really matter how secure your passwords could be, they won’t ever be bulletproof. A second protection layer is the finest way of keeping unwanted visitors out. If you didn’t know, it’s not that hard to get into your phone.

Two-factor authentication is what they call the dual-layer protection process. Essentially, it means that you’ll require both your regular passcode and a second temporary code that is generated by a gadget that only you alone would own in order to get in your most significant accounts, such as Dropbox, Google, various financial institutions, and even apps like LastPass. The combination of those two keys makes the odds of another person picking your virtual lock really, really low.

A free application known as Authy is a great thing to start with, since it has an intuitive design and is capable of running on your tablet, phone, laptop or even desktop system. Google as well has an Authentication app for Android of its own, but it is much less flexible and not as pleasant to use, comparing to Authy.

Tool #4. Android’s Smart Lock Feature

Securing your tablet or phone with a PIN, password, or pattern is essential. However, putting that code each single time you want to use your gadget can get really, really annoying. Thus, it is no surprise that a lot of users want to skip the obstacle and simply leave their devices without protection.

Android’s Smart Lock feat provides the best of both worlds – it cuts down on the annoyance factor, while permitting the user to keep their phone protected, when it is really necessary. It is up to you to leave your gadget without protection, whenever you are in a safe location, such as your home, or anytime you are connected to a safe Bluetooth device, such as smartwatch, which is on your arm at all times, or a stereo in your car. Moreover, you can leave the gadget unlocked, if you always kept it in your pocket since the last time you introduced the passcode.

In short, your gadget is automatically locked and demands your code at any time you are not in a secure situation, which is the end goal essentially.

You can find Smart Lock in your system settings’ Security section, if you have Android 5.0 or higher.

Tool #5. Feature for Advanced App-Scanning on Android

You might not learn it from all the third-party enterprises selling anti-virus soft for smartphones, but there actually was a native malware-scanning feature on Android ever since 2012. Along with checking applications for potentially dangerous code, when they are installed, the operating system is able to persistently scan your gadget once in a while to make certain nothing harmful pops up.

You simply need to go to your system settings’ Google section (or, if you have an older gadget, in a separate application called Google Settings), tap “Security” and activate the option called “Scan device for security threats.” It also could already be activated. So, your gadget and its own software will easily handle the rest of the job.

It also should be noted though that this system is effective in combination with a system on the server that checks all the applications uploaded to Google Play before you even get a glance at them. All Android gadgets as well automatically take notice of SMS abuse, while Chrome browser for Android keeps an eye on dangerous websites.

Tool #6. Android Device Manager

This is another significant native Android tool that is able to find, ring, and even remotely lock or erase your gadget from another mobile gadget or a computer.

It is already built into your smartphone and awaits for you to use it. You can check, if it’s enabled by simply accessing your system settings’ Google section and then tapping “Security.” In there, you will have to activate both options under “Android Device Manager.”

Therefore, if you ever lose your gadget, just go to the Android Device Manager app or website from another tablet or phone to track it and protect it.

Tool #7. Android VPN Client

This last thing is not something everyone would need, but if you surf the web through open Wi-Fi nets a lot of time, maybe you should consider it. A VPN (standing for virtual private network) encrypts all the user data and keeps unwanted visitors from poking around your private info.

With it at hand, you can disguise your actual location and IP address, as well, and therefore access services and websites that could be normally blocked in your particular area. Some users may find this quite beneficial.

Android has a wide range of VPN clients, but the one you should really check out is SurfEasy. One of the main things to take into account with VPN clients is trustworthiness, and SurfEasy is owned and controlled by the company that brought us the Opera browser, which is a quite known and reputed enterprise. But above this, the application is absolutely user-friendly and has a reasonable price, with the smallest plan costing $3 a month for unlimited use on one gadget.

The Bottom Line

Now, with all the apps, features, and services listed in this post, we come to $1-$4 a month for personal Android security. Do you want to keep your personal data protected and avoid such misfortune, as identity theft? Well, it’s not such a big price to pay for peace of mind.

However, mobile app developers should also start thinking of ways to make secure products that would be hard to hack. Onegini is one of these ways – it provides an app development platform with a wide range of security features that will keep app users protected from even the most advanced hackers. Not a bad thing to start with, right?

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