6 Tips to Secure Your Android Device Data

Securing your Android can help prevent your data from falling into the wrong hands.

James Martin/CNET

This story is part War in UkraineCNET’s coverage of events there and the wider effects on the world.

It’s been over a month since Russia invaded Ukraineand worry about cyber security continue to grow. Even before the invasion, US officials blamed Russia for cyberattacks against some Ukrainian websites, including the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense and two banks.

While the US Agency for Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security said there were no specific or credible cyber threats against the United States, the agency also said potential cyberattacks are more likely to target infrastructure. CISA recommends everyone to be prepared just in case. And securing your mobile device is a good place to start when building a line of cyber defense. Here are six steps Android users can take to protect their phone data.

Make sure your operating system is up to date

Updating your operating system can fix known security vulnerabilities and fix bugs. Failure to update to the latest version exposes you and your device to vulnerabilities that could expose personal data to malicious actors. Some people may delay updating their operating system so that they don’t have to deal with early system bugs, but waiting too long can damage your system. here is what to know about the latest Android operating system, Android 12.

Enable two-factor authentication

Two-factor authentication, or 2FA, adds a second layer of security to your Android account in case your password is stolen. With 2FA, once you enter your password, a second message is sent to another device asking to verify that you are trying to log in. It adds a bit more time to your login process, but the extra layer of security is worth it. here is how to enable 2FA.

Use a password manager

If you are having trouble remembering multiple passwords and finding unique passwords for each account, a password manager can help. These utilities can work hand-in-hand with 2FA and can securely store passwords and auto-populate login pages. They can also protect you from phishing scams that trick you into entering your password on a fraudulent website. For more information, see CNET’s reviews of password managers Bitwarden, Last pass and 1Password.

Encrypt your Android

Starting in 2015, Google required manufacturers to make Android devices encryptable out of the box. Once your device is encrypted, all data stored on the device is locked behind a PIN, fingerprint, pattern or password known to the owner. Without this key, even Google cannot unlock your device. Here you can discover how to encrypt your phone.

Delete your data from Google

Android is a Google product, so unencrypted device data may be stored on a Google server. You can check with Google what your data is and you can ask Google to delete this data. The process can take time, but it’s worth it – your data can’t be stolen if it’s not in the system to begin with. Here’s where you can find how to ask google to delete your informationbut note that Google does not guarantee that it will process the request.

When all else fails, delete your phone

If your phone is lost or stolen, you can reset your phone remotely. Our Android Settings Guide has a walkthrough in case you need to take that step. This deletes all data from your phone, so if you have something you want to keep, you should get into the habit of backing up your phone to a separate device.

For more information on securing your phone, see these eight apps to protect your phone’s privacy, what information digital security experts would like you to know and how to stop your phone from tracking you.

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