In spite of mobile phone makers constantly upgrading security features, hackers are becoming more sophisticated, creating a “cat and mouse” scenario. Phone makers make great strides in protecting customer information, only for hackers to devise new methods of gaining access. This in turn prompts more innovative technology for Android security.
While some hackers choose to wreak havoc for the fun of it or as some kind of personal challenge, for most there is monetary gain. An unfortunate misconception about Android phones is that unlike personal computers, there is no or little risk of a breach. In truth, phones can be hacked just as computers can. With so many people believing Androids are completely safe, an incredible amount of vital information is stored, creating opportunities for hackers.
Protecting an Android
The good news is that consumers have multiple options for improving Android security. The following are recommendations offered by top experts in the field.
- Update Checks – One of the most critical things an Android user can do is run a manual check for any updates. Although the Android system will initiate updates, to ensure the upmost security, manual updates are vital. Security vulnerabilities and bugs are going to occur, but the most recent software version dramatically reduces risk.
- Security Controls – Android phones are designed with a number of excellent security features that should be used:
- PIN Code/Passcode – By enabling this feature, only someone with the information can use the device.
- App Verification – With this enabled, any applications installed by the user are scanned for malware.
- SIM Card Lock – Abuse to the cellular service is prevented when this feature is enabled.
- Phone/Device Encryption – With encryption, private data cannot be accessed in the event the phone is lost or stolen
Tips for Preventing an Attack
Another aspect of Android security is learning viable methods of reducing the risk of an attack. This starts by conducting an analysis on any unneeded items and then disabling, turning off, or completely removing them from the device.
- Unknown Sources – Only applications from Google Play should ever be installed on an Android phone. Installing attachments from emails, websites, or other sources creates a tremendous risk for malware.
- Device Administrators – Another method for boosting Android security entails disabling unnecessary device administrators. These applications have special privileges needed to manage security. Sometimes, Androids come from the factory with device administrators preinstalled, as well as applications with the ability to request device administrator access. However, a known malware practice is to request administrator access that puts the device at risk of being compromised.
- Bluetooth – Millions of people use Bluetooth, which is fine, but whenever not being used, it should be turned off. When Bluetooth is on but not in use, a hacker could potentially interact with the device wirelessly.
- NFC – Like Bluetooth, NFC capability should be off when not being used, as it creates the opportunity for a hacker to interact with the Android device.
- Wi-Fi – Although there are some areas where Wi-Fi is needed to make calls in areas with poor coverage, whenever possible this too should be turned off. As a result, a hacker would have less chance of interacting with or attacking the device wirelessly. In addition, any old or unused Wi-Fi profiles should be removed.
Additional things that an individual can do to greatly enhance Android security include:
- Turn off Portable Hotspot
- Disable ADB
- Disable unnecessary root certificates and roots of trust
- Remove unnecessary keyboard applications
- Remove unnecessary user-installed certificates
- Disable printing
- Disable screen mirroring
- Disable media file sharing/DLNA
- Install a trusted Android security application supported by Google and available through Google Play