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Android Security 101: How to Protect Your Data in Case Your Phone Gets Stolen « Android :: Gadget Hacks

As smartphone users, we live in dangerous times. The value of phones continues to rise, doing them prime targets for thieves. In 2015, the FCC estimated in which one million phones are stolen each year, in addition to also with several devices starting to hit the $1,000 mark currently, these numbers are sure to rise. however what do you do if you fall victim to phone theft?

Unfortunately, there’s always chance in which you or someone you love will have their smartphone stolen. Replacing the phone, although costly, is actually easy to do — however your precious data is actually still vulnerable. If a thief is actually savvy enough, they can access the personal information on a stolen phone in addition to also potentially empty your bank account, steal your identity, or worse. Thankfully, we can protect ourselves.

Since you can never know when your phone might be stolen, you’ll need to take a proactive approach to lock down your data currently. By following these tips, you can minimize the chances of a thief accessing your data while increasing the odds of locating your stolen device. Although we live in dangerous times, we do possess strong tools to protect ourselves.

Step 1: Install an Anti-Theft App

With the rise of smartphone theft, many security-focused companies started out to expand their efforts coming from remote threats to those nearby. This kind of led to the creation of several anti-theft programs in which combine different technologies to assist users if their device is actually stolen.

Typically, these programs will include remote tracking doing sure in which you can locate your device in addition to also relay in which information to the proper authorities. Remote wiping is actually another great feature in which allows you to wipe the data in addition to also prevent unwarranted access. If you conduct regular backups, you won’t lose any data, however the thief will not have access.

Google provides these two features in addition to also the ability the ring your device to help you locate your phone in an application called Find My Device. This kind of year, Google combined This kind of program with an antivirus suite to create Play Protect, which acts as a security platform for Android smartphones.

Find My Device provides adequate anti-theft protection, however This kind of could be better.

If anything happens to your phone, you can use the Find My Device app on another phone (or coming from the desktop) to see its location on Google Maps. however there’s a problem here: Your GPS has to remain on just for This kind of feature to work. However, having your GPS always on will drain your battery faster, in addition to also This kind of’s a security risk within the sense in which someone could track you using the same technology. Also, if your phone is actually turned off, tracking doesn’t work.

For these reasons, we recommend using Cerberus to supplement Google’s default anti-theft measures. This kind of all-in-one anti-theft solution provides all the basic functionality found in Find My Device, however expands on This kind of significantly.

With Cerberus, you can remotely turn on GPS doing sure in which you can track the device. You can prevent someone coming from shutting down your device by tricking them using a fake shutdown menu. While they believe they’ve escaped detection, your phone might truly be on in addition to also continue its tracking. You can hide the app doing sure in which they won’t know Cerberus is actually installed.

Cerberus includes a web app in which allows you to track your phone remotely, in addition to also when you first sign up, you’ll receive an email with SMS commands in which you can use to remotely control your phone. You can remote wipe both the local storage in addition to also the SD card.

(1) Some of the features found in Cerberus. (2) Cerberus’ IFTTT options.

however one of the best features is actually the ability to take a picture or video of the perpetrator without their knowledge. This kind of also has SIM checker in which will inform you if the thief alterations your SIM card, in addition to also This kind of supports IFTTT to set up a series of commands in which activate another program based on previous actions. Cerberus also has many more features to assist you if you unfortunately ever have to experience This kind of situation.

Cerberus is actually $5.52 a year, however includes a seven-day free trial. We strongly recommend you use This kind of program. By itself, This kind of can be the difference between retrieving your phone or losing everything.

Step 2: Secure Your Lock Screen

One of the most effective deterrents against unwanted access to your data is actually a secure lock screen. This kind of starts with enabling one of the authentication methods to enter your device. Do not forgo the lock screen by using just a swipe up gesture or having none. By implementing any authentication, thieves will have some difficulty entering into your phone.

As the absolute minimum, we recommend using the fingerprint scanner to enter your device. Fingerprint scanners provide the best balance between security in addition to also speed, as most scanners can detect your finger within a fraction of a second. As long as the thief doesn’t force you to unlock your device, once they run away with your phone, they won’t be able to access any of your data unless they can get your fingerprint.

Fingerprint scanners provide adequate lock screen security.

However, fingerprint scanners are a flawed security method since consciousness isn’t required for access. For example, if you are sleeping on the subway in addition to also someone steals your phone, they can use your fingerprint while you sleep to access your phone in addition to also turn off the security. in which is actually why for maximum protection, we recommend a password.

A strong password (with over eight characters in addition to also a combination of uppercase, lowercase, numbers, in addition to also special symbols while having no relation to you or known words) is actually the best way to impede access, as This kind of requires you to be conscious to implement in addition to also is actually hard to replicate by simple observation. A strong password can last you years without anyone gaining access — although we recommend changing all password after 90 days for the best security.

Step 3: Enable Secure Start-Up

With Android 4.4 KitKat, Google introduced full-disk encryption to the platform. What This kind of provided was a virtual safe in which locked away all the data stored locally on your device, preventing anyone coming from accessing This kind of. This kind of encryption was optional, requiring the user to enable This kind of. This kind of prevented access to your phone after This kind of was shut down (or restarted) by requiring the same passcode coming from your lock screen to decrypt the device for use.

Google changed This kind of with Android 7.0 Nougat to a file-based encryption to protect users coming from themselves. This kind of is actually because some users might forget the passcode in addition to also be locked out their device for hours, not receiving notifications because of the full-disk encryption. Nougat also removed the default requirement of a passcode each time you restart your device, however you can re-enable This kind of. in which way, if a thief turns off your phone to hide his or her location, when they turn This kind of back on, they will not be able to access This kind of without your passcode.

To enable This kind of feature, head to your phone’s main Settings menu in addition to also select the “Security” option (This kind of might be combined with another feature such as “Fingerprints & Security,” depending on the skin). Choose the “Secure start-up” option, then enable the “require X to turn on phone” setting (X representing the lock screen security you are using, whether PIN, password, or pattern). You’ll be prompted just for This kind of passcode, in addition to also then you’re done.

Step 4: Secure Your Apps

A secure lock screen with secure start-up offers great protection against thieves accessing your data. However, one of the leading principles in cybersecurity is actually layered security. By having protection at various levels, your data stands a better chance of not being accessed. For a different layer of protection, we recommend securing apps individually.

Not all apps contain precious data in which could compromise us if accessed by another individual. However, for the apps in which do, you can use an app called AppLock to provide additional protection.

With AppLock, you can secure individual apps coming from being accessed without proper authentication. AppLock allows you to use either a pattern, PIN, or fingerprint to secure individual application.

AppLock also can prevent certain actions coming from being conducted without a passcode, such as installing or uninstalling apps, receiving calls, or toggling connectivity radios. This kind of allows you to schedule protection based on the time of day or location if you choose.

Step 5: Hide Info coming from the Lock Screen

Even without requiring proper authentication, the notifications presented on your lock screen can contain valuable data. Although convenient, notifications such as text messages can be read coming from the lock screen without ever need a passcode.

To disable This kind of, head to the Settings menu in addition to also select “Notifications” (for some skins, you’ll need to search for “notification” instead). Select the “Lock screen” option in addition to also choose “Hide sensitive only.” Once enabled, the lock screen will show all completely new notification, however will block the contents of messages, preventing someone coming from reading them without unlocking the device.

Step 6: Use a Password Manager

This kind of is actually convenient to use our favorite apps without having re-login in each time. Yet, if they are unlocked for you, they might be unlocked for a thief if he or she was able to gain access to your device. Hence, always log out of all important apps, such as banking or e-commerce. This kind of way, your data is actually protected with layered security. Also, if possible, don’t autofill your user name, as This kind of can be used to retrieve your password. Hackers have used usernames to call up customer support to gain the access to accounts.

To take things a step further, use a password manager to create secure passwords for all your accounts. If you try to make up a secure password for all of your accounts, you’ll likely forget them — especially if they follow the not bad password guidelines.

Password managers, such as LastPass, assist with This kind of by only requiring you to know one strong password. LastPass can generate passwords for all your different accounts in addition to also store them in an encrypted database. The password generated can be as complex in addition to also long as necessary since you are not required to remember This kind of.

There may be more smartphones stolen each year, however the tools available currently allow you to better protect your data in addition to also minimize the damage. By using these recommendations, you can safeguard your smartphone’s data within the event This kind of ever falls into the hands of a thief. Let us know within the comments below if these tips helped you.

Cover image in addition to also screenshots by Jon Knight/Gadget Hacks

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