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Your no-fuss, fail-safe guide to protecting Android devices

Anndrew Vacca | April 15, 2014
Today, thanks to the tools baked into Android itself and available from Google Play app store, you can easily protect both your personal and work-related data from common threats.

Remote wipe. One of Android's newest security features is also one of its most useful: Remote wipe was introduced in 2013 and is now available on any device running Android version 2.2 or later. The feature lets you locate your device remotely. It also lets you remotely lock or even wipe the device's contents if it has been stolen, lost, or breached in any way.

Go to the Settings app's Android Device Manager option and check the boxes for "Remotely locate this device" and "Allow remote lock and erase." Then, from a browser on any computer or device, go to www.google.com/android/devicemanage and enter your Google account credentials. You'll be shown the location of your device in Google Maps, and you'll have the option to ring your device (in case it slipped under a cushion or seat), lock it (so a password is needed to use it), or wipe it (so its apps and data are removed). Having these three options means you don't have to immediately resort to a device wipe if you think the device is lost or stolen, but can use less intrusive remedies instead based on your level of concern.

Disabling side-loading. Google Play isn't the only place your device can contract malware. Files and apps downloaded from your Web browser and from email attachments -- aka side-loading -- can subject your Android devices malware, spyware, and other dangerous apps.

To protect yourself from side-loaded apps and files, you'll want to let Google scan these downloads for security risks. To have Google do so, go to the Settings app's Device Administration section (part of the Security settings) and check the Verify Apps option.

If you'd rather remove the ability to download these files altogether, go to the Settings app's Device Administration section and ensure that Unknown Sources is unchecked. Doing so prevents your Android device from downloading anything that hasn't been checked and approved by Google. However, be aware that this essentially disables your ability to download email attachments, which may be a major inconvenience for business users.

Add a second layer of protection

Google isn't the only provider paying attention to Android's security risks. There are hundreds of apps available through Google Play that can add a second layer of security to your device. These additional fail-safes can be quite useful for business users.

Password vaults. Setting up a password and encrypting your device is an excellent first layer of protection, but should that initial firewall fail, there are additional tools to keep the account information within your device safe by adding yet another layer of password protection for the apps and data on your device.

One such tool is AppLock, which lets you lock down individual apps with a separate password. It's free, albeit with ads.

 

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