5 Ways To Make Your Mobile Device More Secure

how-to-make-your-mobile-device-more-secure

​​How Do You Make a Mobile Device More Secure?

Here are five steps you can take to make your mobile devices more secure. No technical skills required.

1 ​Never use the Chrome Browser

Google built its empire by developing tools that everyone wants to use. Google provides these tools for free because the more people who use the tools the better from Google’s perspective. That’s because Google earns its money from advertising and the more it knows about its users the better it understands them. Deep insights about your future purchasing decisions and behaviour are valuable commodities. 

There is no upper limit to what Google potentially wants to know about you and no effective regulator to constrain the effort it makes to spy on your every waking moment.

google-privacy

In a default state, Chrome enables Google to know about:

  • Every search you make.
  • Every website you visit.
  • Every purchase you make.
  • Your location in the world.
  • How much time you spend on different websites.
  • Google also scans your emails and Google documents.
  • Records keystrokes on your mobile device (if you use the Google keyboard).
  • And much more besides.

If you don’t want this to be the default consequence of using your mobile device, the first step is to change your browser.
I use Brave — which is faster at search because Brave blocks all advertising trackers. If you want to be even more private, you can open a Brave private window which uses the Onion (Tor) network.

You don't have to use Brave. ​There are other privacy-orientated browsers including for example Waterfox — a fork of the popular Firefox browser.

My advice however, is to never use Chrome. Ever.

2 ​Change Your Search Engine

The second step is to change your search engine. If you don’t want Google to monitor your every movement on line, disempower Google by not using Google search.

The two best ways to do this are using DuckDuckGo or StartPage search engines. DuckDuckGo is an independent (and excellent) search engine that doesn’t track your searches at all. StartPage serves you Google search results — but without the tracking. StartPage pays Google for this service — which touches on a meta-principle for privacy and security online.

If you’re not paying for a service with your money, youre paying with your data.

Either way, stop Google’s surveillance dead by avoiding the direct use of its many services.

Why not go one step further and buy a private email address from Posteo, Proton or Fastmail? You can go further and stop using Google Docs — but how to take this step is a topic for another post.

3 Install a VPN

A VPN is an app which hides your real IP address. People use VPNs to get round content restrictions for streaming services like Netflix or to use services difficult to access in some locations. With a VPN you can choose where in the world you want your IP address to appear.

VPNs are also excellent security and privacy tools. By obscuring your real IP address you make it harder for hackers to get into your network. A VPN also means you hide your true location.

Two good VPN options are ExpressVPN and Nord. I’ve used both with no problems.

You need to be careful however if you choose a less well-known VPN — and there are hundreds around.  Facebook had its own VPN called Onavo which instead of protecting the privacy of its users was a tool that enabled  Facebook to all the data sent through the VPN. You could not make this up!

4 ​Change Lock Screen Settings

This one’s super simple — change the default lock screen options on your mobile device. Doing so will stop a thief being able to read your in-coming texts, messages or other sensitive information.

Altering the default setting also stops anyone from hacking into your device by using a Siri command. There are four changes I recommend.

1. Stop control centre from being swiped up from the lock screen (advisable).

To do this on an iPhone follow these steps.

  • Open Settings -> Touch ID & Passcode -> 
  • Enter your passcode ->
  • Tap the switch next to Control Center under Allow Access When Locked (scroll down).

2. Prevent access to the Today view on your lock screen:

  • Open Settings -> Touch ID & Passcode -> 
  • Enter your Passcode ->
  • Scroll to the bottom and switch Today View to Off.

​3. Prevent access to Siri from your lock screen:

  • Open Settings -> 
  • Tap on Siri & Search ->
  • Tap Suggestions on Lock Screen to Off.

​4. Turn off notifications 

​Change the setting for apps you might not want a thief to see. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to do it globally.Here’s how:

  • Open Settings -> Tap on Notifications -> 
  • Tap on the notification you want to disable from the Lock screen ->
  • Switch Show on Lock Screen to Off.

With these steps completed your mobile device is much more secure.

5 ​Buy an iPhone if You Haven’t Already Got One 😉

OK, this final step could be expensive. Android is Google’s mobile system and there are significant differences in intention between the Apple and Google​ privacy policies as Gizmodo notes:

“It’s officially called Differential Privacy, where the data that Apple collects on its users gets scrambled so it can’t identify people personally. That means we see general patterns, rather than specifics that could be traced back to you” in Apple’s own words.
“Google, in contrast, likes to suck up as much personal information as it can on you to create much more personal services, and very much sees specifics about you—you can read its privacy policy here (and don’t forget the policy of Samsung or LG or whichever company makes your phone)”.

​With an iPhone you can choose how far you're willing to let Google intrude on your privacy. ​You must work harder to achieve the same result with an Android mobile.

​5 Ways to Make Your Mobile Device More Secure

These are my top five recommendations to make your mobile device more secure. What are yours?