So stop wasting your time worrying about the Android malware monster du jour and which security company is using it to scare you into an unnecessary subscription, and take a moment instead to look through these far more impactful Android settings — ranging from core system-level elements to some more advanced and easily overlooked options.
Some of the most critical Android settings are also the most difficult to find — but they’re well worth your time to find and use. Please share on Facebook. Tweet about it Please share this on LinkedIn. Submit to Reddit Email this resource to a friend. Android is actually packed with useful and robust security measures, despite all the panic-inducing headlines out there. Some are turned on by default, and they safeguard you whether you realise it or not, while others are more hidden but equally important.
[RELATED: A 20-second tweak for smarter, simpler Android security]
So let’s address the first part of that right off the bat, shall we? Despite what some sensational stories might lead you to believe, Android apps are never able to access your personal data or any part of your phone unless you explicitly give ’em the go-ahead to do so. And while you can’t undo anything that’s already happened (unless you happen to own a time-traveling DeLorean — in which case, great Scott, drop me a line), you can go back and revisit all your app permissions to make sure everything’s in tip-top shape for the future.
Make your way through these 12 specific Android settings, then make your way over to my Android Intelligence newsletter to get three exclusive bonus tips on your favorite subject this second. A rarely spoken reality of Android security is that your own negligence — either in failing to properly secure your device in some way or in leaving open too many windows that allow third-party apps access to your info — is far more likely to be problematic than any manner of malware or scary-sounding boogeyman.
So do this: Head into the Privacy section of your Android settings and find the “Permission manager” line. That’ll show you a list of all available system permissions, including especially sensitive areas such as location, camera, and microphone — the same three areas, incidentally, that can be limited to one-time use only on any phone running at least Android 11. (And if you don’t see a “Permission manager” option on your phone, try looking in the Apps section instead. You can then pull up one app at a time there and find its permissions that way.)
Specifically, you can now let apps access your location only when they’re actively in use, instead of all the time (as of Android 10); you can approve certain permissions only on a one-time, limited-use basis (as of Android 11); and you can determine how detailed of a view any given app gets of your location when you grant it that access (as of Android 12). But any apps that were already on your phone by the time those upgrades arrived would’ve already had full, unrestricted access to those areas of your device. And it’s up to you to revisit ’em and update their settings as needed.