Android: 8 ways to better protect your privacy
A phone lock is important because it protects against unauthorized access to your device. Without a lock on your phone, anyone can access your device’s sensitive information: messages, contacts, emails, or social networks to the accounts whose passwords you have stored in your browser.
You can lock your phone with a password, PIN, gesture, fingerprint, or facial recognition if your device allows it.
Your location is a sensitive piece of information. To protect yourself from misuse of your location data, turn off location sharing completely. You can do this either in the notification bar or in your phone’s settings. You can turn it on when you use it for things like navigation.
Since Android 9, you can also easily manage which apps can access your location. You can manage permissions for your location and other parts of your phone in Settings → Privacy → Permission Manager → Location. You can deny access to apps altogether, allow access only when using an app, or allow access permanently. In addition, you can change an app’s permissions at any time.
Turn off your Google location history. In settings, go to the Google tab. Next, click on manage your Google account and go to the data and personalization tab. In the controls and activities section, you will find your location history. Here you can turn off location history altogether and manage your already saved location data.
You can also turn off location history by logging into your Google account in the browser on any other device. The procedure is the same.
Google usage restrictions
As well as turning off location history, you can also turn off Google activity storage. You can find the activity management in the same place as the location history. You can also delete activity data, set it to auto-delete, or manage your existing records.
Use an alternative search engine and browser. To limit the data Google collects about you as much as possible, start using Mozilla Firefox, Brave, DuckDuckGo, or Qwant. The latter two browsers also offer search engines of the same name that respect your privacy. Another search engine that is worth mentioning is Ecosia. The Ecosia search engine plants trees for ad money while respecting your privacy. You can use the search engines mentioned above on any device.
If you want to completely eliminate Google on your device, consider alternative Android distributions in addition to iOS devices. Since Android is an open system, you can modify it . Modified versions of Android do not include any software from Google. However, if you want to use one, you can install it. In addition, these distributions can be offered on your existing devices and are completely free. Examples of Google-free Android distributions are LineagOS or /e/.
By default, notifications are displayed on your phone’s lock screen, where anyone who has access to your device can read your text with potentially sensitive content . No password, PIN, or gesture is required. In addition to private conversations, emails, and other data, the notification also displays authentication codes for banking, for example.
You can either not show notifications on the lock screen or hide sensitive content to prevent this. This way, you only see the icon of the app you received the message from. The content becomes revealed when you unlock your device.
You can change the notifications display for Android 10 and later in Settings → Privacy → Lock Screen.
For applications, check their permissions. For older versions of Android, you can see app permissions when you install or in the app information. For Android 9 and above, you assign permissions to an app when you first launch it, and you can change them afterward. Unfortunately, there is no option to change app permissions for older versions of Android.
We recommend you review your downloaded apps and uninstall those that you no longer use or have too many permissions. For example, uninstall a flashlight app that requires location or contact access immediately and choose an alternative.
In Android 9 and above, you can view and change the permissions of apps you have already installed in Settings → Privacy → Permissions Manager (for the ninth version, in apps and notifications). Some antivirus programs also display a list of application permissions.
We recommend only downloading apps from the Google Store app or if you are sure they are safe.
Make sure your device is up to date, whether it is system or app updates. A notification will usually let you know when an update is available. But you can also search for it manually.
You can find Android updates under System → Advanced → System Updates. You can also find App updates in the Play Store by clicking the three commas in the top left corner and selecting the My Apps & Games category. Here you will see the apps for which updates are available.
Android Device Encryption
Some devices are encrypted from the first boot. You can verify and set it up in Settings → Security → Encryption & Credentials. Sometimes it can still be under the additional settings tab. Here you can see if your device is encrypted. Encrypting your device prevents misuse of the data on your device if someone steals it.
In addition to an alternative search engine and browser, a VPN comes in handy for privacy and security when browsing the internet on more than free Wi-Fi. A VPN encrypts all the data you transmit, protecting it from the eyes of hackers.
Another primary use of a VPN is to protect against surveillance across the internet. This allows you to connect to the internet through VPN servers worldwide without anyone knowing your current location. As well as avoiding tracking, it allows you to unblock content on sites destined for other countries, including streaming services. A VPN is a must for anyone serious about security and privacy.
Note: Due to the many versions of Android and manufacturer-specific add-ons, individual locations may vary in settings. If you cannot find something, we recommend using the search in the settings.