Our favorite password manager is LastPass, but there are plenty of great options out there. If you haven’t already, start by enabling two-factor authentication (2FA) on your Google account. With a little work, your Galaxy, Pixel, or OnePlus phone can be a veritable fortress, virtually impenetrable to hacks, attacks, and bad apps. (If you don’t, you can enable it in the Lock screen settings.) After downloading, you can sign in using your Google account and allow it to access your your device’s location. PCWorld helps you navigate the PC ecosystem to find the products you want and the advice you need to get the job done. Google has built a malware scanner right into the Play Store called Play Protect. We think a much better solution would be to require biometric authentication every time a password is entered (which Apple does on the iPhone), so until that happens, you should switch it off if you’re paranoid. You can make sure it’s turned on (and it should be), as well as enable app scanning for side-loaded applications. This is an always-on, always-scanning cloud-based security system that keeps an eye on apps in the Play Store and on your device. Check out PCWorld's guide to the best password managers for everything you need to know. If you don’t want to turn the whole thing off, you can also select sites that ignore auto sign-in. If you’re turning off Smart Lock, the only way to keep your passwords safe and organized is to lock them up inside a password manager. But even if you choose a string of letter and numbers, you should set a reminder to change once every six months or so. It’s a good habit to visit this setting every once in while to make sure there aren’t any malicious apps that are allowed to install software behind the scenes. On pre-Oreo (8.0) versions of Android, you can do this easily in Settings > Security > Unknown Sources. If you ever lose your phone or it gets stolen, you can fire up the closest web browser and search Google for “Find My Phone” and remotely locate your lost device. Use a Secure Lock Screen. Smart Lock for Passwords might be convenient, but if you want to lock down your phone, you’re going to need to handle your passwords on your own. If all else fails, Google has added a new Lockdown option to Android 9 that lets you completely secure your phone at a tap. And it’ll stay that way until the next time you re-lock your phone. And it’s all protected by a password or a fingerprint, whichever you choose. You can find Google’s 2FA settings in My Account > 2-Step Verification (and you’ll have to sign in, of course). The $50 Titan Security KeyRemove non-product link bundle (which includes USB and Bluetoothsecurity keys) is a great option from Google, but there are also less-expensive options from YubicoRemove non-product link. Even if someone manages to steal it, it’s protected. If you came here to learn how to turn your Android phone into a vault, here’s what you need to do. Set or schedule an update to be installed as soon as your phone lets you know it’s available. Simply jump into your app drawer and simply uninstall apps that you haven’t used in a while. Michael Simon covers all things mobile for PCWorld and Macworld. It’s called Find My Phone, and it should be enabled by default on all modern Android phones. How to Make Android as Secure as Possible, the least secure of all 2FA methods, but still better than nothing, here are a few tips to make it as accurate as possible, a closer look at everything you can do with Find My Phone, always-on, always-scanning cloud-based security system, How to Change the Theme and Accent Color of Instagram DMs, How to Record Shows and Movies on YouTube TV, How to Get Cycling Navigation Directions in Apple Maps. And make sure it’s not the same as the one that protects your primary Google account. If you use a VPN service, your information is encrypted before it hits the airwaves, so your data is fully protected from everybody except the VPN provider and whatever website you're visiting. Since we launched in 2006, our articles have been read more than 1 billion times. To improve security, you should disable this feature. Ever since Android 5 Lollipop, Android has offered full-device encryption by default, as long as you set some kind of an locking method on your phone (pattern, pin, or password). In the earliest days of Android, encryption wasn’t even an option. In Android Oreo and later, permission is granted on a per-app basis, so you can allow Chrome or Slack to install apps while blocking others. When you download an app from the Play Store and launch it for the first time, Android asks you if it can have access to things like the microphone, camera, phone, etc. If you’re not using a secure lock screen, it’s time to change that. It’s also a good idea to check in on your app permissions every now and again. Staff Writer, There are numerous VPNs in the Play Store, so make sure you check out the rankings and user reviews before making your pick. If you find any that are, tap the name and turn the toggle off. It’ll free up storage and it’ll make sure they don’t turn into potential risks. But if you want to take it one step further, you can use an authenticator app to generate unique codes right on your phone rather than sending them over SMS text messages, which can be riskier. And don’t forget to add your fingerprint if your phone has a scanner, too—here are a few tips to make it as accurate as possible. Similarly, if you’ve ever enabled Developer Mode for any reason but don’t actively rely on any features, go ahead and disable it. We’ve already discussed how important 2-step verification is for your Google account, but you should also be using it for any service that offers it: Twitter, Facebook, Dropbox, etc. You can enable Password Protection on your device, so no one except you will be open the device and will be not able to harm your device without your permission. Depending on your phone, the mechanism is a little different. This is your absolute first line of defense when it comes to keeping your phone safe. Because the information you send can be stolen and spied on with little effort, especially if you’re using a public Wi-Fi hotspot. Read our, Learn more about PCWorld's Digital Editions. What Does “ITT” Mean, and How Do You Use It? Join 350,000 subscribers and get a daily digest of news, comics, trivia, reviews, and more. While the process varies slightly between Android manufacturers and their various flavors of Android, the general gist is Settings > Security > Screen Lock. Starting with Android 8.0 (Oreo), Google baked in a feature named Play Protect. Also, while you’re poking around in your Google account settings, it’s probably a good idea to go ahead and run a security check. Find it and head over to your security settings to register one or more fingerprints. Google releases monthly security updates for Android that most newer phones distribute in a relatively timely manner. Stronger and more secure than the Smart Lock password sync Google offers, a password manager encourages unique, complex passwords, lets you organize and manage multiple logins, and stores sensitive notes, credit card information, and anything else you want to keep in a digital locker. If you’ve tinkered with your phone in the past, you might have enabled something called “Unknown Sources” (or “Install Unknown Apps” on newer versions of Android). You’ll need to pay an annual fee, but it’s worth it. Why? We also have a step-by-step guide on enabling the feature if you hit any snags. Roughly the size of a flash driven (so you can attach it to a keychain) and completely phishing-proof, a security key dispenses with codes and stores all of your authentication on a physical device. While newer Android phones offer numerous biometric methods for unlocking, every phone still requires one of three traditional locking methods: pattern, PIN, or password. As I said, the details might vary slightly here, but that will get you in the ballpark. Here’s how it works. When you install an app from outside Google’s store, you’re losing out on Play Protect and opening your phone up to possible malware. Numerous phones also offer face unlocking, but unless you have a Huawei Mate 20, you should skip these. You’ll see two toggles: Offer to save passwords and Auto sign-in. 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