How to secure your new Android phone

We'll give you ten useful tips on how to easily protect your device and the data stored on it from unauthorized access.

Björn GreifEditor

You got a new Android phone? Then you should set it up in such a way that unauthorized persons cannot access your data. We’ll show you how to secure your device and protect your data in 10 easy steps. [You got an iPhone? Click here for the proper guide.]

Screen LockProtect your device with a PIN, fingerprint, pattern or password against unauthorized access. Tips for creating strong passwords that you can easily remember can be found here. You can usually set up the Screen lock under Settings > Security. There you should also specify that your device locks itself automatically after a few seconds of inactivity. Additionally, make sure that your SIM card is protected with a PIN. The SIM lock can also be configured under Settings > Security.

To prevent someone from reading excerpts of incoming chat messages or emails on your lock screen, you should select the option Hide content under Settings > Security > Notifications. For example, an email will no longer show the sender and subject on the lock screen.

App permissions FacebookIn general, you should already pay attention to the permissions of an app when installing it. If there is no obvious reason for an app to access the microphone, for example, deny it permission. Fortunately, you can revoke previously granted permissions at any time: Go to Settings > Apps, select an app and deactivate the respective permission under “Permissions“.

Alternatively, all apps can be sorted by permissions. Open the three dots menu in the upper right corner of Settings > Apps and select “App permissions“. For example, under “Microphone” you can then see all apps that require access to the microphone. In the same way, you can restrict the access of apps to the camera, location, contacts, calendar, etc.

Google Play ProtectAs basic protection, you can install an up-to-date security software. Check out the Play Store for many free antivirus apps from reputable vendors. Starting with Android 8.x, there is also Google Play Protect, a built-in security feature that regularly checks your apps and device for harmful behavior. You can enable the feature under Settings > Security > Google Play Protect.

Cliqz Anti-Tracking AndroidToday, almost every website contains trackers that collect the personal data of users and log their browsing behavior in order to profile and target them with advertising. To prevent this, you can use a privacy browser like Cliqz. It not only protects against data collectors, annoying ads and phishing, but also offers an anonymous search engine and other useful features such as a video downloader.

You can easily set Cliqz as your default browser: Go to Settings > Apps > Default Apps, tap Browser App and select Cliqz Browser from the list.

Although social networking is primarily about sharing content, you should review your privacy settings to minimize the amount of personal information you share. Our guides for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram explain what options you should change.

To easily restore your personal data or the entire system in case of an error, you should regularly create a backup copy. To do this, go to Settings > Backup and restore and turn on “Back up my data” under the Google Account section. The backup includes device settings (including Wi-Fi passwords), call history, SMS messages and app data (including contacts, photos and videos, if applicable).

Find My DeviceMake sure that the remote access feature is enabled on your Android smartphone: Go to Preferences > Google > Security and check under “Find My Device” whether the switch is set to “On“. This allows you to remotely locate, lock, or delete your phone. However, this only works if you have activated location tracking under Settings > Google > Location.

Also write down your phone’s 15-digit device number (IMEI) – which you can retrieve using the key code *#06# – serial number and SIM card number. This information will come in handy if your phone gets lost or stolen.

Play Store Auto-update AppsMake sure that the firmware of your Android device and all installed apps are up to date. This minimizes the risk of attackers exploiting known vulnerabilities. Once an Android update is available, you will receive a message and should install it promptly. For apps, it is recommended to allow automatic updates (over Wi-Fi only) in the Play Store settings.

Do you want to keep your old phone as a replacement, give it to family or friends or sell it? To prevent the new owner from accessing your data such as private photos and videos or confidential documents, you should always delete it – so that it cannot be easily recovered. On Android, a factory reset alone does not ensure that all personal data is really deleted. Our guide explains how to do it right.

By following our tips, your device and data are well protected. You can then use your new Android phone with complete confidence that it is safe and secure.


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