Reading Time: 4 minutes

With every new Android update, security and privacy feature always get plenty of attention from privacy-conscious users and the whole Android community.

You may not believe us, but Android is actually equipped with various powerful and practical security and privacy features.

While some are activated by default, others require your attention.

So let’s take a moment to look through these features — ranging from core system-level elements to some more advanced and easily overlooked options.


1. Scoped Storage

Applications will only have access to their own silos of data. They will not have access to any other application’s silos of data. This should keep your sensitive information more secure.

It may look not so special from an end-user perspective, but it is essential in the grand scheme of things concerning the security and privacy of Android 11.

This change can be seen as an inconvenience by the developers. They have to jump through more hoops and follow Android’s rules to make it possible for your photo editing app to get access to your gallery application.

Ultimately, your device will become safer with scoped storage as your applications now have greater restrictions on them.


2. Guest Mode

A forgotten feature lets someone else use your Android phone entirely without ever gaining access to your personal information. Guest mode will allow you to hide your device apps, messages, images, videos and phone history.

This feature was first introduced in 2014 and required almost zero effort for initiation

To enable this feature on your Android device. Perform the steps below:

  1. Go to Android phone settings.
  2. Click on “System settings.”
  3. Tap on “Advanced.”
  4. Select “Multiple Users.”
  5. Press “Users and accounts.”
  6. Tap on “Users.”
  7. Select “Guest Profile.”

3. Application Permissions

In most Android security and privacy compromisation cases, our own negligence also plays an important role.

Despite what some exaggerated stories might lead you to believe, Android apps can never access your personal information, contacts, photos, or any part of your phone unless you explicitly permit them to do so.

While you can not undo any given application permission, but you can go back and revisit all your app permissions to ensure that everything is in good shape.

Due to some recent Android app permission updates, you can now let the apps access your location service only when the app is being used. Also, you can approve some permissions on just a one-time basis.

To change the permissions privileges, go to the Privacy section of your system settings and find the “Permission manager” line.

It will display you the list of available system permissions. You can limit the permission to one-time use and also set the option “only when the application is actively being used.


4. Google Play Protect

Android offers a native security system that continuously monitors and scans your phone for any application that starts to misbehave. It also reports the user directly in case anything suspicious emerges.

This feature should be kept active at all times. You should develop a habit to double-check and make sure of it as this feature can be accidentally disabled at any point.

Go to “Android system settings,” tap on “Google Play Protect,” then tap on the grey gear icon on the upper-right corner, and make sure that all the options are enabled.

Although this feature works automatically, you can initiate a manual scan of your apps at any time.

google-play-protect


5. Safe Browsing

Chrome browser will notify you whenever you try to access any suspicious websites or download anything malicious for your device.

While Chrome’s safe browsing mode is enabled by default, the application has the latest or more efficient version called Enhanced Safe Browsing.

With that being said, there are other ways too to ensure safe browsing. In combination with using the Enhanced Safe Browsing option, it is a smart idea to use VPNs. We would recommend only using the trusted VPNs for Android that experts recommend.


6. Lock Screen Limitation

Android typically displays notifications on your lock screen by default. Meaning, the contents of emails or text messages can be easily visible to anyone who has access to it at that particular moment.

Luckily, you can restrict how much notification information is shown on your lock screen by going to the privacy section of your Android system settings and tapping on “Notifications on the lock screen.”

From there onwards, you can change the setting to either “Show sensitive content only when unlocked” or “Don’t show notifications at all.”


7. Smart Lock

Security is only beneficial if you actually use it. Android’s Smart Lock feature lets you automatically keep your phone unlocked whenever you’re in a trusted place like your home, office, or gym.

You can set up screen lock directly in the security section of your Android system settings. Samsung users can explore the smart lock possibilities in the Lock Screen section.

android-smart-lock


8. Two Factor Authentication

Two-factor authentication is technically a Google account feature and specifically to Android and overall smartphone security.

This feature allows you to add an extra security layer to your accounts by registering a device that provides a unique code every time someone tries to log into it.

From your Android phone settings, tap on “Manage your Google Account,” and then scroll across that top row to select the “Security” tab. Find and tap “2-Step Verification” and follow the steps to set things up.

For that last part, you’ll need to download and set up an app like Google’s Authenticator to create your log-in keys.


9. Lockdown Mode

The lockdown mode allows you to temporarily lock down your phone from all biometric and smart local security options. Ony with a pattern, PIN, or password, a person can get access to the device.

This is an ideal feature for situations where you are forced to unlock your phone with your fingerprint or face. Activating lockdown mode will ensure that your phone couldn’t be accessed without your explicit consent.

To enable this feature, search the word lockdown in your phone settings and make sure the toggle across it is set into the on position.


10. Screen Pinning

Screen Pinning allows you to lock a single application to your phone. It will then require a password or fingerprint authentication to access anything else on the device.

It is a valuable feature when you pass your phone to someone else and make sure they don’t accidentally access anything they shouldn’t.

Once enabled, this feature won’t allow you to switch apps, access the home screen, view notifications, or do anything else until you exit the pinning and unlock the device.

To do that, with gestures, you’ll swipe up from the bottom of your screen and hold your finger down — and with the old three-button nav setup, you’ll press the Back and Overview buttons at the same time.

screen-pinning


Conclusion

Privacy is a human right. Android services are constantly aware of your actual location, websites you visit. They also record your audio calls and even read all of your emails.

Only by adopting the above-mentioned security and privacy tips can it reduce the amount of data you are letting Android services collect from you.

With that being said, in a general sense, it is also advisable to use network-level security tools such as firewalls and virtual private networks to prevent network-level intrusions while using your Android phone on the go. Because we all know, public Wi-Fi connections aren’t safe.