12 Android Settings That’ll Strengthen Your Safety

SOME OF THE MOST IMPORTANT ANDROID SETTINGS ARE ALSO THE MOST BURIED — AND THEY’RE ABSOLUTELY WORTH YOUR WHILE TO UNCOVER AND PUT INTO ACTION.

You won’t comprehend it from all of the panic-inducing headlines on the market, however Android is definitely full of sensible and highly effective safety choices. Some are activated by default and defending you whether or not you notice it or not, whereas others are extra out of the way in which however equally deserving of your consideration.

So cease losing your time worrying concerning the Android malware monster du jour and which safety firm is utilizing it to scare you into an pointless subscription, and take a second as an alternative to look by way of these much more impactful Android settings — starting from core system-level parts to some extra superior and simply neglected choices.

Prepared? Prepared. Let’s do that:

ANDROID SETTING NO. 1: APP PERMISSIONS

A hardly ever spoken actuality of Android safety is that your personal negligence — both in failing to correctly safe your system in a roundabout way or in leaving open too many home windows that enable third-party apps entry to your data — is way extra prone to be problematic than any method of malware or scary-sounding boogeyman.

So let’s tackle the primary a part of that proper off the bat, we could? Regardless of what some sensational tales may lead you to imagine, Android apps are by no means capable of entry your private information or any a part of your cellphone until you explicitly give ’em the go-ahead to take action. And when you can’t undo something that’s already occurred (until you occur to personal a time-travelling DeLorean — wherein case, nice Scott, drop me a line), you can return and revisit all of your app permissions to ensure every little thing’s in tip-top form for the long run.

That’s advisable to do periodically, anyway, and significantly now — as the previous few Android variations have included some necessary new app permission choices.

Particularly, now you can let apps entry your location solely once they’re actively in use, as an alternative of on a regular basis (as of Android 10); you possibly can approve sure permissions solely on a one-time, limited-use foundation (as of Android 11); and you’ll decide how detailed of a view any given app will get of your location whenever you grant it that entry (as of Android 12). However any apps that have been already in your cellphone by the point these upgrades arrived would’ve already had full, unrestricted entry to these areas of your system. And it’s as much as you to revisit ’em and replace their settings as wanted.

So do that: Head into the Privateness part of your Android settings and discover the “Permission supervisor” line. That’ll present you a listing of all obtainable system permissions, together with particularly delicate areas similar to location, digital camera, and microphone — the identical three areas, by the way, that may be restricted to one-time use solely on any cellphone operating at the least Android 11. (And should you don’t see a “Permission supervisor” possibility in your cellphone, strive trying within the Apps part as an alternative. You’ll be able to then pull up one app at a time there and discover its permissions that approach.) 

Faucet on a selected permission, and also you’ll see a breakdown of precisely which apps are licensed to make use of it in what approach.

Android Settings: Location permission

You’ll be able to then faucet on any app to regulate its stage of entry and convey it down a notch, when relevant, or take away its entry to the permission totally — and, should you’ve bought Android 12 or greater, additionally choose whether or not the app ought to get entry to your exact location or solely a far much less particular approximate view of the place you might be.

Android Settings: Location permission options

If there’s one part of your Android settings price spending the time to revisit, that is unquestionably it.

ANDROID SETTING NO. 2: PLAY PROTECT

Talking of apps in your cellphone, it is a advantageous time to speak about Google Play Shield — Android’s native safety system that, amongst different issues, repeatedly scans your cellphone for any indicators of misbehaving apps and warns you if something suspicious emerges.

(And sure, it does generally fail to detect shady gamers instantly — one thing that will get performed as much as a comedic diploma in these deceptive advertising campaigns — however even in these situations, the real-world risk to most folk is sometimes fairly minimal.)

Except you (or another person) inadvertently disabled it in some unspecified time in the future, Play Shield ought to be up and operating in your cellphone already — nevertheless it definitely can’t damage to double-check and ensure.

To take action, simply open up the Safety part of your Android settings. Faucet the road labeled both “Google Play Shield” or “App safety,” then faucet the gear icon within the upper-right nook and ensure the toggles there are activated.

Again on the primary Play Shield display screen, you’ll see a standing replace displaying you that the system is lively and operating. It really works totally by itself, mechanically, however you possibly can all the time set off a handbook scan of your apps on that very same web page, should you’re ever so inclined (or possibly simply bored).

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Android Settings: Google Play Protect

ANDROID SETTING NO. 3: SAFE BROWSING

Chrome is usually the default Android browser — and so long as you’re utilizing it, you possibly can relaxation a little bit simpler realizing it’ll warn you anytime you attempt to open a shady web site or obtain one thing harmful.

Whereas Chrome’s Protected Looking mode is enabled by default, although, the app has a more recent and simpler model of the identical system known as Enhanced Protected Looking. And it’s as much as you to decide in to it.

Right here’s how:

  • Open up Chrome in your cellphone.
  • Faucet the three-dot menu icon within the app’s upper-right nook and choose “Settings” from the menu that comes up.
  • Faucet “Privateness and safety,” then choose “Protected Looking.”
  • Faucet the dot subsequent to “Enhanced safety” on the following display screen you see.

When you’re there, again your self out to the primary Chrome settings menu and choose “Security test.” That’ll reveal a useful one-tap device for scanning your numerous browser settings and saved passwords and letting you recognize of something that wants consideration.

ANDROID SETTING NO. 4: LOCK SCREEN INFO

If another person ever will get their sweaty paws in your cellphone, you don’t need ’em to have the ability to entry any of your private and/or firm info — proper?

Effectively, take observe: Android sometimes reveals notifications in your lock display screen by default — which suggests the contents of emails or different messages you obtain is likely to be seen to anybody who appears at your system, even when they’ll’t unlock it.

If you happen to are likely to get delicate messages or simply need to step up your safety and privateness sport, you possibly can limit how a lot notification data is proven in your lock display screen by going to the Privateness part of your Android settings, tapping the road labeled “Notifications on lock display screen,” after which altering its setting from “Present all notification content material” to both “Present delicate content material solely when unlocked” (which is able to filter your notifications and put solely these deemed as “not delicate” onto the lock display screen) or “Don’t present notifications in any respect” (which, as you’d count on, is not going to present any notifications in your lock display screen in anyway).

If you happen to’re utilizing a Samsung cellphone, you’ll discover those self same choices inside the devoted Lock Display screen part of the system settings — although, sadly, with much less nuance concerned (as Samsung has for no obvious purpose eliminated the “delicate” notification differentiation from the settings on its model of Android).

And talking of the lock display screen…

ANDROID SETTING NO. 5: LOCK SCREEN CONTROLS

By default, Android makes all the shortcuts in your cellphone’s Fast Settings space — y’know, that panel of one-tap tiles that reveals up whenever you swipe down from the highest of the display screen — obtainable even when the system is locked.

Something that takes you to a different space of the working system will nonetheless require authentication, after all, however the easy on-off tiles will be tapped and toggled by anybody who’s holding the cellphone.

As a rule, that’s an added comfort. Say you need to flip in your cellphone’s Bluetooth for a quick connection, as an illustration, or flash in your flashlight to seek out that stray tacky poof that slipped out of your sticky grabbers and fell onto the ground. Having the ability to do these issues with a pair fast faucets and with out having to unlock your cellphone can definitely be useful.

On the identical time, although, it might additionally enable somebody else to do one thing like change your cellphone’s sound settings, disable its Wi-Fi connection, and even put it into airplane mode. And should you’re actually aiming for the tightest safety obtainable, you most likely don’t need that kind of stuff to be doable.

Right here’s the excellent news: If you happen to’ve bought a tool with a latest Android model, you possibly can take management and switch these controls off within the lock display screen atmosphere. With Android 12 and up, march into the Show part of your Android settings and faucet “Lock display screen.” Flip the toggle subsequent to the “Present system controls” possibility into the off place, then make a celebratory squawking sound and get your self a soda.

With Samsung telephones, you’ll as an alternative want to go into the Lock Display screen part of your settings and faucet the road labeled “Safe lock settings.” There, you’ll discover an choice to “Lock community and safety,” which prevents any network-related toggles from being utilized in that context. (Samsung stripped out the power to lock down all Fast Settings tiles, sadly, however the network-connected are most likely a very powerful by way of safety, anyway.)

ANDROID SETTING NO. 6: SMART LOCK

Safety is barely helpful should you truly use it — and given the additional stage of inconvenience it typically provides into our lives, it’s all too straightforward to let our guards down and get lazy after some time.

Android’s Sensible Lock function is designed to counteract that tendency by making safety a teensy bit much less annoying. It might allow you to mechanically hold your cellphone unlocked everytime you’re in a trusted place — like your house, your workplace, or that weird-smelling restaurant the place you eat barbeque sandwiches nearly disgustingly typically — and even whenever you’re related to a trusted Bluetooth system, like a smartwatch, some earbuds, or your automotive’s audio system.

Android Settings: Smart Lock

Relying in your system, you’ll need to search for the “Display screen Lock” possibility within the Safety part of your Android settings (with older Android variations), look beneath “Superior settings” inside the Safety part (with Android 12), or look within the Lock Display screen part of your settings (on a Samsung cellphone) to discover the probabilities.

And should you ever discover the Trusted Locations a part of Sensible Lock isn’t working reliably, by the way in which, right here’s the 60-second repair.

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ANDROID SETTING NO. 7: TWO-FACTOR AUTHENTICATION

This subsequent one’s technically a Google account possibility and never particular to Android, nevertheless it’s very a lot related to Android and your total smartphone expertise.

 what two-factor authentication is by now, proper? And also you’re utilizing it in every single place you possibly can — particularly in your Google account, which might be related to all types of delicate information? RIGHT?!

If you happen to aren’t, by golly, now’s the time to begin. Hustle over to the Google part of your Android settings, faucet “Handle your Google Account,” after which scroll throughout that high row to pick the “Safety” tab. Discover and faucet “2-Step Verification” and observe the steps to set issues up.

For most individuals, I’d suggest utilizing your cellphone’s personal “Safety Key” possibility because the default technique, if it’s obtainable, adopted by “Google prompts” and an authenticator app as secondary strategies. For that final half, you’ll have to obtain and arrange an app like Google’s personal Authenticator or the extra versatile Authy to generate your sign-in codes.

If you happen to actually need to take your Google account safety to the max, you too can go a step additional and buy a particular standalone {hardware} key that’ll management the method and be required for any profitable sign-in to happen.

It’ll add an additional step into your sign-in course of, however that is one space the place the minor inconvenience may be very a lot definitely worth the tradeoff for enhanced safety.

ANDROID SETTING NO. 8: LOCKDOWN MODE

Supplied you’re utilizing a cellphone with Android 9 or greater (and should you aren’t, switching over to a present cellphone that really will get lively software program updates ought to be your high safety precedence!), an Android setting known as lockdown mode is effectively price your whereas to analyze. As soon as enabled, it provides you a simple strategy to briefly lock down your cellphone from all biometric and Sensible Lock safety choices — which means solely a sample, PIN, or password can get an individual previous your lock display screen and into your system.

The concept is that should you have been ever in a scenario the place you thought you is likely to be compelled to unlock your cellphone along with your fingerprint or face — be it by some kind of legislation enforcement agent or simply by a daily ol’ hooligan — you possibly can activate the lockdown mode and know your information couldn’t be accessed with out your express permission. No notifications will ever present up in your lock display screen whereas the mode is lively, and that heightened stage of safety will stay in place till you manually unlock your cellphone (even when the system is restarted).

The trick, although, is that on sure telephones — significantly those who shipped with earlier Android variations and have been upgraded to Android 9 in some unspecified time in the future — you need to allow the choice forward of time to ensure that it to be obtainable. To substantiate that it’s activated in your system, open up your Android settings, seek for the phrase lockdown, and ensure the toggle alongside “Present lockdown possibility” is about to the on place.

If you happen to’re utilizing a present cellphone and don’t see any outcomes for that search, the choice might be simply mechanically enabled — and also you shouldn’t need to do something to make it obtainable.

Both approach, as soon as the system’s up and operating, you need to see a command labeled both “Lockdown” or “Lockdown mode” anytime you press and maintain your cellphone’s energy button. Optimistically, you’ll by no means want it. But it surely’s added layer of safety to have obtainable, simply in case — and now you know the way to seek out it.

ANDROID SETTING NO. 9: APP PINNING

One among Android’s most sensible settings can be one in every of its most hidden. I’m talkin’ about app pinning — one thing launched approach again in 2014’s Lollipop period and infrequently talked about since.

App pinning makes it doable so that you can lock a single app or course of to your cellphone after which require a password or fingerprint authentication earlier than anything will be accessed. It may be invaluable whenever you go your cellphone off to a good friend or colleague and need to make certain they don’t by accident (or possibly not so by accident) get into one thing they shouldn’t.

To make use of app pinning, you’ll first have to activate it by opening that trusty ol’ Safety part in your Android settings after which discovering the road labeled “App pinning,” “Display screen pinning,” or presumably “Pin home windows.” (You’ll most likely need to faucet a line labeled “Superior settings” or “Different safety settings” to disclose it.) Faucet these phrases, no matter they’re in your particular system, then flip the function on and likewise ensure the toggle to “Ask for unlock sample earlier than unpinning” is activated.

Then, the following time you’re about to put your cellphone in another person’s grubby fingers, first open up your system Overview interface — both by swiping up from the underside of your display screen and holding your finger down, should you’re utilizing Android’s gesture system, or by urgent the square-shaped button, should you’re nonetheless hanging onto the old-school three-button nav setup.

On any cellphone operating moderately latest software program, you’ll then faucet the icon of the app you need to pin, instantly above its card in that Overview space. And there, you need to see the Pin possibility.

Android Settings: App pinning

When you’ve tapped that, you gained’t be capable of swap apps, return to your house display screen, have a look at notifications, or do anything till you exit the pinning and unlock the system. To try this, with gestures, you’ll swipe up from the underside of your display screen and maintain your finger down — and with the outdated three-button nav setup, you’ll press the Again and Overview buttons on the identical time.

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ANDROID SETTING NO. 10: GUEST MODE

If you wish to go a step additional and let another person use all components of your cellphone with out ever encountering your private info or having the ability to mess something up, Android has an unimaginable system that’ll allow you to just do that — with subsequent to no ongoing effort concerned.

It’s known as Visitor Mode, and it’s been round since 2014, although most folk have utterly forgotten about it. For an in depth walkthrough of what it’s all about and how one can put it to make use of, see my separate Android Visitor Mode information.

Simply observe that in case you have a Samsung cellphone, that information gained’t do you a lot good — as Samsung has for no obvious purpose opted to take away this customary working system factor from its software program (insert tangentially associated soapbox rant right here). On Google’s personal Pixel telephones and lots of different Android gadgets, although, it’ll take you all of 20 seconds to arrange and prepare.

ANDROID SETTING NO. 11: FIND MY DEVICE

Whether or not you’ve merely misplaced your cellphone round the home or workplace otherwise you’ve truly misplaced it out within the wild, all the time do not forget that Android has its personal built-in mechanism for locating, ringing, locking, and even erasing a tool from afar.

Like Play Shield, the Android Discover My System function ought to be enabled by default. You can also make positive by heading into the Safety part of your Android settings and tapping the road labeled “Discover My System.” Double-check that the toggle on the high of the display screen is turned on.

Utilizing a Samsung cellphone? Samsung offers its personal superfluous, redundant service known as Discover My Cellular, however the native Google Android model will carry all of your gadgets — not solely these made by Samsung — collectively right into a single place. and it’s additionally far more versatile in how and the place it’s capable of work. On a Samsung system, the best strategy to discover the Android Discover My System setting is to go looking your system settings for the phrase Discover My System.

When you’ve confirmed the setting is enabled, should you ever want to trace your cellphone down, simply go to android.com/discover from any browser or do a Google seek for “discover my system.” (There’s additionally an official Discover My System Android app, in case you have one other Android system and need to hold that operate standing by and prepared.)

So long as you’re capable of signal into your Google account, you’ll be capable of pinpoint your cellphone’s final recognized location on a map and handle it remotely inside a matter of seconds.

ANDROID SETTING NO. 12: EMERGENCY CONTACT

Discover My System is a unbelievable useful resource to have — however in sure conditions, you may get a lacking cellphone again even sooner with the assistance of a fellow human.

Give individuals an opportunity to do the correct factor by including an emergency contact that may be accessed and dialed with a couple of fast faucets out of your cellphone’s lock display screen. To start out, go to both the About Cellphone part of your Android settings or the Security & Emergency part, in case you have it, after which discover and faucet the road labeled both “Emergency info” or “Emergency contacts.”

Comply with the prompts there so as to add in an emergency contact — a detailed good friend, member of the family, important different, random raccoon, or no matter is sensible for you. (Hey, I’m not right here to evaluate.)

Android Settings: Emergency contacts

Simple peasy, proper? Effectively, nearly: The one problem is that the emergency contact data isn’t precisely apparent or easy to seek out on the lock display screen — go determine — so anybody who picks up your cellphone won’t even discover it.

However wait! You’ll be able to improve the chances significantly with one further step: Head into the Show part of your settings and faucet “Lock display screen” (which can be hidden inside an “Superior” subsection, relying in your system), then faucet the road labeled “Add textual content on lock display screen.” 

Nevertheless you get there, as soon as you end up dealing with a clean area for textual content enter, enter one thing alongside the traces of: “If you happen to’ve discovered this cellphone, please swipe up after which faucet ‘Emergency name’ and ‘View emergency info’ to inform me.”

That message will then all the time present up in your lock display screen — and as an added bonus, if there’s ever an precise emergency, you’ll be prepared for that, too.

Utilizing a Samsung cellphone? For no obvious purpose (sensing a theme right here?), Samsung has eliminated the direct emergency contact system and as an alternative provides solely the power to put plain textual content in your lock display screen. Yow will discover that, although, by making your approach into the Lock Display screen part of your system settings and on the lookout for the road labeled “Contact info” — and there, you possibly can simply kind in your emergency contact data instantly and hope that somebody finds it after which dials it from their very own cellphone.

ONE MORE THING…

Now that you just’ve bought your Android safety settings optimized and so as, take 10 minutes to carry out an Android safety checkup. It’s a 16-step course of I’ve created for the state of safety on each your cellphone and your broader Google account — and it’s effectively price doing at the least yearly.

One of the best a part of this checkup? It’s utterly painless — and in contrast to with most preventative exams, eradicating your pants is totally non-obligatory.

Supply hyperlink.