Before the smartphone era, there wasn’t too much information a thief could gain from stealing your phone. Most people only stored phone numbers on their devices. While you wouldn’t want the wrong person to get their hands on this information, it wasn’t the end of the world either.
Fast forward ten years, and so much has changed. Phones are way more than a device for calling or texting your friends. Not only they contain contact information but also most personal data. They store private photos and videos, logins to email and social media accounts, and much more.
That’s why you need to keep your data away from a nosy friend or parent and safeguard it from cybercriminals. And here’s what you can do to protect yourself.
First Things First
A surprisingly large number of people still don’t lock their phones. A few years ago, only 36 percent of people put a pin on their phones. While that number has gone up, it doesn’t mean we’re that much safer. Thieves can unlock 26% of all smartphones today with one of twenty easy and common passwords like “1234” and “9999.”
If you don’t have a password on your phone, set one now. Likewise, make it something a little more difficult to guess and aim for six digits instead of four. Finally, use biometrics like your fingerprint or facial scan to lock your phone and connected accounts.
IMPORTANT: With any of these apps, you also need to lock your settings. You can find this under the advanced section of Privacy in Settings. Otherwise, somebody can delete the app hider and access your data as usual.
Solution 1: App Hider
App Hider is a free app that allows you to conceal apps from view. It’s easy to use, and it also disguises itself as a calculator making it even more discrete.
How to use the App Hider?
Step 1: Open the app and tap the “+” icon to add any app you want to hide.
Step 2: Set a pin code. You will need to enter it into the calculator to access the apps you hide.
Other similar apps are Privacy Master and Calculator Vault.
Solution 2: Guest Accounts
Instead of a third-party app, you can use the Android OS to create a separate guest account. It is helpful if you share your phone with somebody. It’s not the most secure, but an excellent option for child-proofing your device.
Setup varies based on which Android OS you run and phone manufacturer.
You can determine the privileges of the account in settings. You can enable or disable SMS, access to apps, or everything else, depending on your needs.
Solution 3: App Lock from Keep Safe
App Lock is the closest way to lock apps on your smartphone directly. You set up a pin, pattern, or fingerprint to lock individual apps. It’s easy to set up, and in settings, you select which apps you want to use with it.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work super well in real-world settings. It does block somebody from sending messages with a PIN, pattern, or passcode. But it is possible to view the app for a brief period of time before App Lock shuts you out.
Somebody who is determined could even take screenshots. It’s better than nothing but best used in combination with other approaches.
Other Precautions You Should Take
Taking the steps above protects your data from real-world threats, like thieves. But let’s not forget that cyber criminals are as dangerous.
You wouldn’t leave your phone unattended and unlocked in a public setting, would you? Then you also need these privacy and security tools on your phone:
- The first step is enabling a VPN at all times. A VPN or virtual private network encrypts your phone’s internet activity to prevent people from snooping on you. It is especially important when you connect to public WiFi in places like cafes, restaurants, and even your workplace. To use, download an Android VPN app and set it to run anytime you connect to the internet.
- Next, secure your accounts with two-factor authentication (2FA). With 2FA, the platform sends you a confirmation code via SMS or email to double-check if it’s you logging in. Make sure to do this for all accounts, especially social media and email.
- Finally, invest in a reliable antimalware app for Android. There are plenty of both free and inexpensive options available. It is the only way to ensure hackers don’t implant malware like keyloggers on your devices. Keyloggers record your keystrokes, which hackers use to gain access to your login credentials.
It’s never too late to start protecting your phone. Use these apps and follow these tips to ensure your data always remains confidential.
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