General security

Android security: 7 tips and tricks to secure you and your workforce [updated 2021]

June 22, 2021 by Dan Virgillito

Concerned about Android security in your workplace? You should be. Cybercriminals target Android phones more often due to their various entry points. For instance, in December last year, security firm Check Point discovered a vulnerability in thousands of Android apps that allows hackers to steal users’ credentials and financial data. Besides, adversaries can leverage browser vulnerabilities, untrusted APKs and other rouge endpoints to access data on Android phones.

One good thing about Android is that the operating system is open-source, which means you can make your device as airtight or as secure as you deem fit. With that in mind, here are some Android phone security tips you can implement to improve your device’s defenses and enhance security throughout your company.

7 Android security tips for 2021 

1. Let Android look for threats

Did you know that Android can monitor a device for suspicious activity or harmful code? You can instruct it to monitor yours by going to Android security settings, tapping the line called “Google Play Protect,” and ensuring that the option of “Scan device for security threats” is checked. Make it a policy so that everyone in your company has this option enabled. 

2. Be wary of permission requests

Android gives you the option to separate work apps from third-party apps by setting up a work profile, but don’t take this as a license to sleep on third-party app security. Make sure they’re not accessing data that seems beyond necessary. Some red flags include permission requests for accessing your contacts, GPS and external storage. Make employees revisit their app permissions by opening up “App & Notifications” in system settings, tapping “Advanced” > “Permissions manager” or “App Permissions”’ 

3. Enable find my device

Like Apple, Google offers a find my device feature for Android handsets. Activating it can help you pinpoint the location of your gadget when it’s out of sight. Although you might not be able to get your phone back if it’s stolen, you’ll quickly learn that it’s not within company premises, after which you can remotely lock or wipe the handset from the find my phone dashboard. To activate this option, go to Android security settings, choose “Security” > “Find My Device,” and activate the toggle on top of the section. 

4. Look into Google’s advanced protection program

Google recommends this program for any Android user who’s at an elevated risk of cyberattacks. Examples include IT admins, business leaders and anyone else storing sensitive information on their handsets. Advanced protection safeguards your device by requiring security keys to sign in to access your Google data, conducting extra checks on downloads and only allowing apps from verified stores. Enrollment requires users to purchase two security keys and register them to their Google account. Although it’s unrealistic to buy these for everyone, you can consider investing in them to help protect the devices of your high-level employees. Keys are available from Google itself and YubiKey.

5. Use safe browsers

Android’s default browser, Google Chrome, can be the gateway to security threats. Since it stores a lot of sensitive information (including user passwords), it’s an attractive endpoint for hackers. The smallest of vulnerabilities in Chrome could see you part ways with precious company information. To ensure your data remains safe while you and your staff work on different tasks, consider having everyone use a safer browser like Brave or Firefox Focus. Such browsers delete all traces of history as soon as you close them. Plus, they block third-party scripts, ads and trackers to help keep your information protected. 

6. Consider a VPN

If any of your employees are working remotely, they’ll likely connect their phone to an unsecured Wi-Fi network at some point. If a hacker is present on a network, they’ll be able to intercept all the sensitive information the worker transmits over the network. Fortunately, you can use a virtual private network (VPN) to stop adversaries in their tracks. VPN technology encrypts all the outgoing and incoming data over a network so that no one can intercept it at a network level. In simpler terms, it makes you anonymous online. Various companies offer user-friendly VPN apps at affordable prices, so you can get some and share the credentials with your remote team.

7. Invest in Android Enterprise Essentials

Android Enterprise Essentials is a device management service from Google. It offers key security features like screen lock enforcement and always-on malware protection to keep devices protected. The features are already present on devices available from eligible resellers and can’t be deactivated by your employees. You can visit android.com/enterprise/essentials to see a list of available resellers. As the devices come protected, out of the box, employees don’t need to configure any settings on their end. According to Google, Enterprise Essentials is designed for companies with smaller budgets, so it can be an ideal Android security solution for SMBs.

Secure your team’s Android devices 

Because of their vulnerabilities, popularity and potential payoff, Android devices have long been a prime target for cybercriminals. Although Android has seen vast improvements over security issues in the past few releases, there’s always something a user could do to strengthen its defenses further. Hopefully, the above android security tips would help improve device security for every Android user in your company.

 

Sources:

  1. Many Android apps still use a vulnerable Google Play Core library version, SlashGear
  2. Why and how I enrolled in Google’s Advanced Protection Program, IT PRO
Posted: June 22, 2021
Articles Author
Dan Virgillito
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Dan Virgillito is a blogger and content strategist with experience in cyber security, social media and tech news. Visit his website or say hi on Twitter.

5 responses to “Android security: 7 tips and tricks to secure you and your workforce [updated 2021]”

  1. Dave532 says:

    Great article – really useful info! Unfortunately too many people will disregard any type of security for their device leaving it at risk. That means more malware in the future…

  2. Breda says:

    Hi, this is really useful but I do have some questions I was hoping you would be kind enough to answer if you can.
    If I put a lock on my screen, will I have to enter the password/ pattern to answer the phone? If so I suspect it will never get answered in time and that’s why people don’t do it.
    I can’t find the screen you show in no. 2, I’ve looked through all the ‘settings’ options.
    Every app I’ve tried to install so far has wanted all those accesses you show in no. 4 so I haven’t downloaded any yet, am I misunderstanding something? I don’t want anyone to have any info about me.
    Finally, I haven’t paid for anything yet (except through my Amazon account) because I’m nervous about putting card numbers on the phone. I’ve only tried to do it at home, on my own broadband, is that safe?

    • Simon says:

      You do not have to enter your password/passcode to answer the phone, only to use it yourself for texts/phone calls/email/etc.

      As for the privacy settings mentioned in number 2, on my phone they are accessed through the ‘internet’ app settings which is the four horizontal lines ‘button’.

      If you use a credit card to pay for anything on the internet you are protected to an extent through the credit card company, not necessarily true if you use a debit card.

      Only install apps you need and if you don’t need them anymore, uninstall them.

  3. midas says:

    you should try HiddenEye to know who is playing around with your phone

    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.midasensemble.hiddeneye

  4. Barry says:

    Good article, thank you. I looked at App Protector Pro but there are many adverse reviews especially re circumventing the app locks. So I am concerned about installing it. On the subject of geolocation, of course the issue is security v smart features. So much of the functionality of smart phones relies on knowing your geolocation. Otherwise what’s the point?

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