It can happen to you anytime, or maybe it has already happened: you’re on the bus playing on your smartphone or surfing the social networks when someone steals your device, running out of the doors of the vehicle and running away in the crowd. Or you just forget the device somewhere. Worse, a thief takes the phone from you with a gun.
This happens and there is not much to do. The phone is gone, and while you can always buy another device, all your personal information now lives in the hands of a criminal.
Brazilian police have been reporting a considerable increase in theft of smartphones and tablets in recent years. The number could be even higher, as the police only have data on crimes that have been reported. The fate of your phone after it is stolen can be anything. A thief can keep it to himself, he can sell it to a friend or an unsuspecting buyer online, or he may have been stolen just for the parts of the handset. Other phones may even be smuggled out of the country where they can fetch a premium price in developing markets.
That’s why you should turn on some security features on your Android device to ensure that even if you lose your device, your data is safe, and you even have a small chance of finding your device again.
Screen lock code
You can protect your device with any number PIN of four to 17 digits by blending uppercase, lowercase letters, numbers, and characters(but no spaces), or use a pattern for locking the screen. If you use the latter, however, remember that a thief may be able to see your unlock pattern by following the finger stains on your screen. That’s another reason why it’s a good idea to clean your device frequently. Android phones running Jelly Bean and above also have the face recognition unlock feature. This feature may not be as good, but it is definitely the safest option. In addition to a lock code, some devices even have a fingerprint reader.
Lock Screen Features
Android devices will let you access some features from the lock screen. Only missed calls and a preview of any unread text are usually available, but you should disable access by going to the Security page of the Settings menu.
Also, be sure to link your device to your Google account to get one more way to recover your password.
Track and”delete” your phone remotely o Android Device Manager
Android Device Manager(Android Device Manager) allows you to control access to your phone if it is stolen or lost. Turn on the feature by going to the Google Settings menu and choosing the Android Device Manager option. Then check the boxes to remotely locate, lock, and reset your phone.
To find a lost device , you first need to sign up for the Android device manager site using your Google ID and password or the application on your device. In both you’ll see a list of all the devices connected to your account. Clicking on each device will show you your location on a Google Map. Of course, the device must be connected to a cellular network or public Wi-Fi network or you will not be able to locate it.
The next set of options in this application includes the ability to lock your phone with a new lock code, put it to ring for 5 minutes at maximum volume(even if it is set to silent mode), and completely erase your device. Although Android Device Manager does not guarantee the return of your device, you can use these preventative measures to protect yourself and can even improve your security and even lock your device using some third-party applications available on Google Play.
Important: You can not wipe microSD cards remotely, only the internal memory of the phone. So, beware of what you store on a memory card.
Enable 2-step authentication
Users who only access their Google accounts from Android devices can take a short step by step to set up the Google Authenticator application on their phones. With Google Authenticator, you can generate verification codes on your phone, even if your phone is not connected to a network.
Log in to your Google Account settings page by clicking on your name or photo in the upper right corner of the screen and then clicking Account. At the top, click Security. Android users(4.0 or older) will see a screen providing an option to install the Google Authenticator app(which can also be installed by the Google Play store).
If you prefer to receive codes via SMS instead of using the Google Authenticator application, click the link at the bottom of the screen that says”You can receive codes by text message(SMS) or voice” and follow the instructions to complete the configuration.
If you would like to use Google Authenticator, click on”Send me the app” to install the application on your phone and follow the on-screen instructions to complete the setup process. Make sure the time on your Android device is correct because the codes are linked to the times and you’re done! The next time you sign in to your Gmail account , you will be prompted to enter a code that you will get from the Authenticator application, even if you change a password or setting on your device.
Encrypt your phone
Before enabling encryption, be aware that there are some disadvantages:
- Slower: Encryption always adds some overhead, making your device a bit slower. The actual speed decrease depends on the phone hardware.
- It only works in one direction: After encrypting the storage of your device, you can only disable encryption by resetting your phone to the factory default settings. This will also erase all the data stored on your phone, so you will have to set it from scratch.
Not everyone should turn on encryption, since it will do more harm than good to many people. Mostly professionals who keep business information should seriously consider this possibility of encryption, making it clear that it is also important to make a backup of all your data before any modification in the device.
How to enable encryption on Android?
Encryption may take an hour or more, depending on how much data you have on your device. Plug your phone into a charger before proceeding. If you have to stop the encryption process, you will lose some(or all!) Data on your phone.
Before proceeding, make sure you have a PIN lock screen or the password set. Android will not allow you to encrypt the device until you create a PIN or password. To set it up, if you have not done so, open the Settings on your device screen, touch Security, Screen lock-> PIN or password, and set a new PIN or password.
You can now encrypt the storage of your Android phone. Open your settings screen, touch Security, and tap on Criteria. Read the warning information and tap the Encrypt button to continue. You will see a message telling you to connect your phone to a charger if it is not connected yet.
You will need to provide the PIN or the password to continue the encryption process. Agree to the notice and then leave your phone alone for a while as it may take an hour or more. Do not interrupt the phone while it is encrypting your storage.
You will see a progress indicator popping up. Once it is done, the storage of your device will be encrypted. You will have to enter your PIN or password every time you start the phone or your storage will be unreadable, so do not forget the password! If you do this, you can only remove the encryption after returning your device to the factory state, erasing all data. If you used a PIN instead of a password, you will receive a password anyway. Simply enter the PIN number using the numeric keypad.
Add device owner information
Not everyone who”finds” your phone has bad intentions. If you lose your phone, with a little luck it can be found by someone who may try to return it. Help them by adding owner information to the lock screen.
You can add your name, contact information, or emergency contacts to the lock screen in Settings-> Security-> Owner Information. Even with a lock screen enabled, anyone with your phone can see this information. Make sure it is information by which who pick up your handset can reach you(or your emergency contact), even if you lose your phone.
Nothing can totally protect you when you lose or have your device stolen. So the best thing is still the precaution: be careful when using the device in public places, place it in a place that is easy to reach and feel that you are still with you and take extra care. After all, smartphone is not cheap for you to get lost or having stolen all the time.
If you have more security tips for Android, share in the comments below. Your help is very welcome!