As you’ll no doubt be aware by now – if you want something free, you’re usually going to be giving up some of your privacy instead. Most apps that are free, especially on Android, will be wanting some additional permissions on your phone. They might want to read your messages, view your contacts or more. It’s difficult to put into words just how important your privacy is, but we’re seemingly willing to give up some of this privacy in order to get free stuff.
Traditionally, people would only worry about their privacy if they actually lost their phone. You’d have to go through all the right procedures and systems in order to get things up and running again, plus you’d be worrying about who else has your data. Those lost photos, those private images and data. It’s a massive concern.
People don’t need to steal your phone in order to steal your data and information. Anything from simple identity theft to stealing vital company patents and industry secrets is possible. Worst of all, you don’t have to fall prey to a professional hacker either. There’s some surprisingly easy ways to lose your data and information (and easy ways you can stay safe).
Be mindful of notifications and sensitive data
So, first things first – be mindful of your data, your notifications, and where you store and put things. Namely, the simple “look over his shoulder in a crowded café” trick is simple, but it’s not nearly as high tech as actually being hacked electronically. It is, though, pretty effective still. Just like putting your PIN into a cash machine, you should also keep an eye on your surroundings when you’re banking on your phone or via PayPal etc.
For example, it’s perhaps worth heading into your Android settings option and ensuring that you turn off lock screen notifications. This means you won’t get these apps showing up on your display for the entire world to see. WhatsApp preview messages with private updates isn’t what you want displayed on your locked phone if you’ve left your phone on the table.
You can go another stage further – hiding apps so that others can’t see them. Usually you can do this by going into “Applications” in your settings and clicking the app you want to hide. It’ll then stop nosy friends that don’t understand the meaning of privacy. For this, we suggest you hide your photos and data, download some encryption apps, or get some other things under virtual lock and key.
Backups and Ad Tracking
There’s many who rely on the “cloud” to backup their data. A lot more rely on the free Google or Dropbox accounts that are given away with many phones. However, you should also consider getting yourself a NAS box in order to keep your backups truly private.
If you have a NAS and you backup regularly, you can disable the “cloud” backups by going into settings, to Google, then to Backup, and simply turn it all off. Check if any of this data is backed up by special phone features (like Samsung’s Cloud), and turn this off as well.
Furthermore, you can also look to disable Ad Tracking. If you are getting annoyed or creeped out by content targeted ads that are imposing upon your privacy, turn off the ad tracking. Simply go to your Settings, find the ads options (most likely within the Google tab), and turn off ad personalization with the appropriate toggle or switch.
Get a VPN
One of the things you should keep in mind is getting a VPN. Now, a VPN (virtual protection network) is there to protect your data and your phone’s identity when you go online. Any and all data that is sent by you to the internet will be hidden by a “tunnel” created by the VPN.
You can protect your privacy with a free VPN, as well as accessing some data that you couldn’t before. This is because a VPN will hide your geographic location. This is important if you don’t want to be tracked by ad companies and other nefarious organizations, or if you want to avoid annoying geoblocking of your favorite content providers.
Keep an eye on app permissions
You should remember that many apps ask for permissions from your phone. Most often, these permissions are useful, and are needed for the app to run. However, as you’ll have no doubt already seen, these apps can push the amount of permissions too far. In addition they can use and collect your data, which they later sell. We suggest you minimize app permissions, and keep in mind that any app that seems a bit iffy should be avoided.
So, go to your Apps tab in your settings, find the app permissions tab (most likely in the upper left corner), and turn them off.
Be smart about your locks
Finally, practice some common sense, and lock your phone up. Use a PIN, a good password, stick to a regular lock combination, and try to keep an eye on your phone at all times. If you can, we suggest you get double protection – a code and a pattern lock.
Of course, fingerprint scanners are great, since they almost guarantee that nobody will get into your phone.
And there you have it folks, a couple of ways you can secure your privacy when using your Android smartphone. First, try to practice some common sense, properly lock your phone, keep your passwords smart, and keep your phone safe. Then, you want to turn off app notifications, minimize any type of backup, and remove and disable ad tracking options. A VPN can help you with this, as well as simply practicing due diligence and keeping an eye on app permissions.