How to improve privacy and security on Android

Your smartphone contains a huge amount of information: photos, contacts, access to online accounts and much more. Although Android is a fairly secure platform, some information about the configuration and use of your phone is sent to Google servers. If you want to limit the collection of data and make your phone more secure, here are some tips you can try.

Make sure the Android Device Manager is activated

You probably already know the Android Device Manager, which allows users to easily track a missing Android device. You can even locate phones and tablets by typing "search my device" on Google Search or by asking your Google Home. If your device is stolen and you want to make sure that none of your data is at risk, you can even activate a remote wipe.

Depending on the age of your phone or tablet and how you configured it, Android Device Manager may not be enabled by default (or may not have the appropriate permissions). Here's how to verify:

  1. Open the Settings application
  2. Press the menu option & # 39; Google & # 39;
  3. Scroll down to & # 39; Security & # 39 ;, then touch & # 39; Search my device & # 39;
  4. Make sure that the switch at the top is set to & # 39; Enabled & # 39 ;.

Run a Security Control

Google has an excellent Security Control tool that can guide you to make your Google account more secure. This includes enabling two factor authentication, removing old Android devices that you no longer use, and so on.

If you have multiple Google accounts, it's a good idea to run Security Control on each of them. Simply tap the user icon in the upper right corner and select another account (or tap & # 39; Add account & # 39; if the one you want is not visible).

Disable Google Drive backups

When you set up an Android device, there is an option to automatically back up your device settings, applications, call history and more in the cloud. In this way, you can restore those settings to a new device later. But if you do not want your Wi-Fi passwords and call history to back up in Google Drive, you can turn off the feature:

  1. Open the Settings app
  2. Tap the menu & # 39; Google & # 39;
  3. Select & # 39; Backup & # 39;
  4. Deactivate & # 39; Backup in Google Drive & # 39;

This disables future backups, but does not delete existing backups. You have to do that from Google Drive.

Delete backup copies of the Google Drive app:

  1. Open the Google Drive app
  2. Tap the menu button in the upper left corner
  3. Select & # 39; Copies of security & # 39;
  4. Press the menu button next to the backup you want to delete and select & # 39; Delete backup & # 39;

Remove backup copies of the Google Drive web application:

  1. Go to drive in your web browser
  2. Click & # 39; Backup & # 39; ; on the left side panel
  3. Click on a backup and then on the trash can icon in the upper right corner

Set a lock screen password

This is probably obvious, but it's worth mentioning anyway. Biometric authentication methods, such as fingerprints and retinas, are designed for continence and not for security. If you want to keep the information on your phone as secure as possible, you must establish a lock that only you know.

For Android 8.0 Oreo and newer:

  1. Open the configuration application [19659006] Select & # 39; Security & location & # 39 ;, then select & # 39; Screen lock & # 39;
  2. Choose a PIN, pattern or password lock

For Android 7.1 Nougat and earlier:

  1. Open the Settings application
  2. Select the menu option & # 39; Security & # 39 ;
  3. Press & # 39; Screen lock & # 39;

From the security screen, you can also choose to hide notifications (or just the content of notifications) from the lock screen.

Disable activity tracking

By default, Google stores a large amount of data about you: what applications you open, the sites you visit in Chrome, the YouTube videos you watch, etc. None of this information is sent to third parties, but if you do not want it collected in the first place, you can easily deactivate the activity data.

Just go to this page and disable all categories. Keep in mind that doing so will limit certain functions; for example, disabling Voice and Audio Activity will disable the Google Assistant.

Change browsers or search engines

Almost all Android devices come with Google Chrome as the default browser. Although Chrome is very secure, Google collects data on the use of your browser to improve the advertising of the application and the goal. This publication already covered how to disable tracking data, but if you want Google to ignore your use of the web, you can easily change your browser.

Some popular alternative browsers for Android include Microsoft Edge, Samsung Internet, and Opera Mobile. If privacy is your main concern, Firefox and Firefox Focus are the best options. You can set any of these as the default browser on Android, so links in other applications will open in the chosen application and not in Chrome.

DuckDuckGo as search engine in Chrome for Android

If you do not want to change browsers, changing your search engine is another option to improve privacy. DuckDuckGo is an engine that does not track users. Most Android browsers allow you to change your default search engine, here are instructions for Chrome and Firefox.

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