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Secure Your Android" Phone Now!

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Whether you just received your Android phone or have used it for months, there are some security basics that will keep performance sharp, battery lasting longer, and data less likely to leak from your phone to some hacker. John Traenkenschuh reviews eight simple tools and techniques you can try to secure your service, your information, and more.

Remember those high-profile phone hacks in 2004 that gave us all pictures of the stars, their phone numbers, and small windows into their lives? As phone functions have grown, phone security has never been more important, yet unimplemented.

This article will show you how you can do all you can to secure your service, your information, your battery lifetime, and yes, increasingly large parts of your life and financial future. You’ll be happy to know that Android has some nice features—when you choose to use them. Much of your security plan, though, must come from a change in security habits, “soft” security factors that I cover in a companion series of blogs here on InformIT.com. For now, let’s review eight simple tools and techniques you can try.

Security Tool 1: Improve Physical Security

We in the information security field know that physical access to a computer only helps the attacker. The first security tool you must enable is a login Personal Identification Number (PIN) or, in some cases, the connect-the-dots login pattern. See Figure 1. Consider this: Many phones do not feature an account lock-up, a login “time out” to penalize for wrong guesses, or an automatic wipe feature that deletes the system back to baseline state.

A four-digit PIN is easy to evade, especially when set to the last four numbers of your phone number, a still too common practice with phone companies. Either use more numbers or significantly reduce the confidentiality of the information you store! As you may have read in my earlier article on password security, each increase in the number of digits increases the number of potential permutations in a PIN. Make the person who finds your phone guess and guess a lot before dialing internationally!

The connect-the-dots screen in many phones operates on similar principles. Using three dots is easier to guess than using 10. Using the corner dot as a starting point means there are only three options for the next dot, as easy to guess as a PIN that uses only numbers 1, 2, and 3.

Figure 1 Play connect-the-dots with your phone

Choose a pattern that is as random as you can make it—a pattern that uses at least six connected dots. And here’s a tip: Realize that repeated logins can leave a trail for others to follow on the touchscreen, if your fingers have anything on them, like fried chicken crumbs. (Yes, amazing things your daughters point out when they ask to use your phone at a restaurant.) Keep the screen clean!

Android is a trademark of Google Inc. Use of this trademark is subject to Google Permissions.

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