Your Android phone could be lacking the security it needs to keep you safe. This guide shows how to check the settings and configure them to increase your security and privacy. Do it now!
Android phones and tablets have many security features that prevent data leaks, hackers, scammers and others from accessing your information, but many people have never checked them or even realised that there are settings that can help.
Many people just accept the default settings and that’s it. The defaults might not be correct and they might not suit everyone. You should go through the settings carefully and set them according to what is best for you.
The app that we’ll look at in this article is the Google Settings app that is part of Android. Find it in the apps on your phone and run it.
See who has accessed your account
Tap Sign in & security and then tap Device access & notifications. Read the recent security events list, which shows what has been done recently. It should show only the things that you have done and anything unfamiliar could indicate that someone else has access to your device or even to your Google account.
The Recently used devices list shows which computers, phones and tablets have recently accessed your Google account. They should all be familiar to them and anything that is not could indicate that someone else has access to your account.
You are being tracked!
Return to the Google Settings home screen by pressing the back button and press Personal info & privacy followed by Activity controls. This reveals whether your activities are being tracked and who can see that activity. It should say that only you can see it at the top of the screen.
Even though your activity is private, you might still prefer that it was not recorded. For each of the items in the list, tap them and one or more tick boxes enable you to choose whether the history is stored. The choice is yours. I personally do not have a problem with this information being stored provided only I can access it.
Return to the Google Settings home screen and press Google Fit. It lists the apps that have access to information stored in Google Fit, which could be runs, walks and other activities you have engaged in, your weight, what you eat and so on.
If you don’t use Google Fit then there will not be any apps there, but if there are, are you OK with them having access to the information?
Is someone nearby listening?
On the Google Settings home screen, press Nearby and there is an On/Off switch. When this is on, the phone is tablet is able to use the sensors, such as the microphone, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and so on, to see if there are other devices it can connect to and exchange information.
This could be useful in the home if you have two or more Android devices, such as two phones, a phone and tablet, perhaps even a Chromecast. However, it might not be a good idea to have it enabled when you are out in public.
No doubt it has safeguards to prevent it from revealing your personal information to everyone around you, but even so, when it is on, it is another possible entry point for hackers. Keep it off in public and only turn it on at home if you find you need it. You probably don’t.
Check the security settings
Press Security on the Google Settings home screen. If the options to Remotely locate this device and Allow remote lock and erase are not turned on, turn them on.
Down near the bottom of this screen under Verify apps, turn on the options Scan device for security threats and Improve harmful app detection.
This helps to increase the security of the device by checking apps for problems and sending suspicious ones to Google. It probably isn’t as good as a security program from an antivirus company, but it is well worth turning on.
Press Smart Lock for Passwords on the home screen and there is an option to save passwords to your Google account. It is better if passwords are not stored anywhere, but really it is impossible to remember them, so you have to turn on this option.
Auto sign-in is different though. Turning this off prevents apps and websites from automatically signing you in to your account and accessing information. Try turning this off and see what happens. So far it doesn’t appear to have had any negative effect on the apps I use. However, it probably depends on the apps on the phone and your apps may be different to mine.
- Written by Roland Waddilove
- Created: 18 February 2016