Thursday, 5 June 2014

Three Android Security Essentials

I recommend the following three tools for improving your security when using Android phones.

These will allow you to:

  1. Locate or disable a lost or stolen phone
  2. Prevent surveillance of your WiFi and mobile data use
  3. Further improve the security of your internet accounts
Additionally protection from malware is provided by the second tool but, for Android, I don't believe that such threats are currently significant for users who avoid unofficial application stores.

Two tools are free. I've included one that is not because I believe that the free alternatives are not sufficient.

Google Android Device Manager
Why: Ring, lock or erase your phone remotely
Cost: Free
Where: Already installed or Google Play Store


Install the application if necessary and visit the management console using another computer (phone, tablet or PC), logging in with a Google account that is present on your phone.

If you lose your phone nearby you can locate it using its ringer. If you lose it further afield you can locate it using GPS. If it's really lost or stolen you can wipe it.

More information, including a video on what the wiping process looks like.

F-Secure Freedome
Why: Use public WiFi networks safely
Cost: £20.99/year (or £2.99/month)
Where: Google Play Store


Prevent others from monitoring your internet use, passwords and other sensitive data by clicking the Protection button.

When it says 'On' your connection to the internet is encrypted, even if the websites you use do not use encryption.

Additionally this product claims to protect against web-based threats including harmful applications, websites and sites that track your online activity.

If you are considering a free VPN bear in mind that you don't necessarily know who is running it and what information they are taking from you to fund it.

Google Authenticator
Why: Increased security for your internet accounts
Cost: Free
Where: Google Play Store


Not only available for Android, this security tool makes your internet accounts much harder to crack.

Compatible services include Google Apps and Mail; Dropbox; LastPass; and WordPress. That is just a short list of those using Authenticator.