Home Android 11 Android settings that’ll strengthen your security

11 Android settings that’ll strengthen your security

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You might not know it from all the panic-inducing headlines out there, but Android is actually packed with powerful and practical security features. Some are activated by default and protecting you whether you realize it or not, while others are more out of the way but equally deserving of your attention.

So stop wasting your time worrying about the Android malware monster du jour and which security company is using it to scare you into an unnecessary subscription, and take a moment instead to look through these far more impactful Android security settings — ranging from core system-level elements to some more advanced and easily overlooked options.

Ready?

1. App permissions

A rarely spoken reality of Android security is that your own negligence — either in failing to properly secure your device in some way or in leaving open too many windows that allow third-party apps to access your info — is far more likely to be problematic than any manner of malware or scary-sounding boogeyman.

So let’s address the first part of that right off the bat, shall we? Despite what some sensational stories might lead you to believe, Android apps are never able to access your personal data or any part of your phone unless you explicitly give ’em the permission to do so. And while you can’t undo anything that’s already happened (unless you happen to own a time-traveling DeLorean — in which case, great Scott, drop me a line), you can go back and revisit all your app permissions to make sure everything’s in good shape now.

That’s advisable to do periodically, anyway, and particularly now — as the last couple Android versions included some important new app permission options. Specifically, you can now let apps access your location only when they’re actively in use, instead of all the time (as of Android 10) and approve certain permissions only on a one-time, limited-use basis (as of Android 11). But any apps that were already on your phone by the time those upgrades arrived would’ve already had full, unrestricted access to those areas of your device. And it’s up to you to revisit ’em and update their settings as needed.

So do this: Head into the Privacy section of your system settings and find the “Permission manager” line. That’ll show you a list of all available system permissions, including especially sensitive areas such as location, camera, and microphone — the same three areas, incidentally, that can be limited to one-time use only on any phone running Android 11. (And if you don’t see a “Permission manager” option on your phone, try looking in the Apps section instead. You can then pull up one app at a time there and find its permissions that way.) 

JR

Tap on a specific permission, and you’ll see a breakdown of exactly which apps are authorized to use the permission in what way.

Android Security Settings: Location permissionJR

You can then tap on any app to adjust its level of access and bring it down a notch, when applicable, or remove its access to the permission entirely.

Android Security Settings: Change permissionJR

If there’s one section of Android security settings worth spending the time to revisit, this is without a doubt it.

2. Google Play Protect

Speaking of apps on your phone, this is a fine time to talk about Google Play Protect — Android’s native security system that, among other things, continuously scans your phone for any signs of misbehaving apps and warns you if anything suspicious emerges.

(And yes, it does sometimes fail to detect shady players immediately — something that gets played up to a comedic degree in those misleading marketing campaigns — but even in those instances, the real-world threat to most folks is typically quite minimal.)

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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