Can happen to you at any moment, or maybe it has already happened: you’re on the bus playing on your smartphone, or by browsing social networks when someone steals your device, running out of the doors of the vehicle and fleeing in the middle of the crowd. Or you simply forget the device somewhere. Worse, a thief takes your phone from you with a gun.
This happens and there is not much you can do. The phone is gone, and while you always can buy another handset, all your personal information now lives in the hands of a criminal.
Brazilian police comes reporting a considerable increase in the number of robberies of smartphones and tablets in recent years. The number could be even greater, as the police only have data of crimes that were reported. The fate of your phone after it is stolen can be anything. A thief may keep it for himself, he can sell it to a friend or a buyer unsuspecting online, or it may have been stolen only for the parts of the instrument. Other phones may even be smuggled out of the country where they can fetch a premium price in developing markets.
Because of this, you should enable some security features in your Android device to ensure that even if you lose your device, your data is safe and you have even a small chance of finding your device again.
Lock Code Screen
You can protect your handset with any numeric PIN of four to 17 digits, mixing uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and characters (but without spaces), or use a pattern for the lock screen. If you use the latter, however, remember that a thief may be able to see your unlock pattern by following the spots of the finger on your screen. This is another reason why it is a good idea to clean the screen of your device with frequency. Android phones that run Jelly Bean and above also have the feature of unlocking by facial recognition. This feature may not be as good, but it is definitely the safer option. Beyond a lock code, some devices even has a fingerprint reader.
Features of the lock screen
Android devices will let you access some features from the lock screen. Are available, usually, only the missed calls and a preview of any texts not read, but you must disable access by going in the Security page of the Settings menu.
Also, do not forget to link your device to your Google account to have even more a way of recovering your password.
Track and “erase” Your Phone Remotely the the Manager Android Devices
The Manager Android Devices (Android Device Manager) allows you to control the access to your phone if it is stolen or lost. Turn on the feature by going to the Google Settings and choosing the option to Manager Android Devices. Then, check the boxes to remotely locate, lock and reset your phone.
To locate a lost device, you will first need to register on the site manager Android devices using your ID and password of the Google or by the app on your device. In both you will see a list of all the devices connected to your account. By clicking on each device will show you your location on a Google map. Of course, your device must be connected to a cellular network or public Wi-Fi network, or you will not be able to find it.
The next set of options in this application includes the ability to lock your phone with a new lock code, put it to play for 5 minutes at maximum volume (even if it is set to silent mode and erase your device completely. Although the Android Device Manager does not guarantee the return of your device, you can use these preventive measures to protect yourself and you can still improve your security and to lock your device using some third-party apps available on the Google Play.
Important: you can’t wipe microSD cards remotely, only the phone’s internal memory. So, be careful with what you store on a memory card.
Enable Authentication in Two Steps
Users who only access their Google accounts from Android devices can use a short step-by-step to configure the Google Authenticator application on their phones. With Google Authenticator, you can generate verification codes on your phone even if the phone is not connected to a network.
Sign in to your Account settings page for Google by clicking on your name or photo in the upper right corner of the screen and then clicking Account. At the top, click Security. Android users (4.0 or older) will see a screen providing an option to install the Google Authenticator app (which can also be installed from the Google Play store).
If you prefer to receive the codes via SMS instead of using the Google Authenticator app, click on the link at the bottom of the screen that says “You can receive codes by text message (SMS) or voice” and follow the instructions to complete the setup.
If you would like to use the Google Authenticator, click “Send me the app” to install the app on your phone and follow the on-screen instructions to complete the setup process. Check if time on your Android device is correct, since the codes are linked to the times and ready! The next time that you log in to your Gmail account, you will be prompted to enter a code that you will get from the application Authenticator, including in the case of changing any password or configuration on your device.
Encrypt Your Phone
Before you enable encryption, you know that there are some disadvantages:
- Slower: Encryption always adds some overhead, making your device a little slower. The decrease of the actual speed depends on the hardware of the phone.
- Only works in one direction: After the encryption of the storage on your device, you can only disable encryption by resetting your phone to the factory default settings. This will also erase all the data stored on your phone, so you’ll have to configure it from scratch.
Not everyone should enable encryption, as it will do more harm than good for many people. Mainly professionals who keep business information should consider seriously the possibility of encryption, making it clear that it is also important to make a backup of all your data prior to any modification to the instrument.
How to enable encryption on the Android?
The encryption may take an hour or even more, depending on the amount of data that you have on your device. Connect your phone on a charger before continuing. If you have to interrupt the encryption process, you will lose some (or all!) the data on your phone.
Before you continue, make sure you have a lock screen PIN or password configured. The Android will not allow you to encrypt your device until you create a PIN or password. To configure it, if you have not already done so, open the Settings screen of your device, tap Security, screen Lock -> PIN or password, and set a new PIN or password.
Now you can encrypt the storage on your Android phone. Open the screen to its settings, tap Security, and tap Encrypt. Read the warning information and tap the Encrypt button to continue. You will see a message telling you to connect your phone on a charger if it is not connected yet.
You will have to provide the PIN or password to continue with the encryption process. Agree with the warning, and then leave your phone alone for a while, it may take an hour or more. Do not interrupt the phone while it’s encrypting its storage.
You will see a progress indicator appearing. After that is done, the storage of your device will be encrypted. You will have to enter the PIN or password each time you start the phone or its storage will be unreadable, so do not forget the password! If you do this, you can only remove the encryption after you return your device to factory state, erasing all data. If you used a PIN instead of a password, you will receive a password in any way. Simply enter the PIN number using the numeric keypad.
Add Information About the Owner of the Device
Not everyone who “finds” your phone has bad intentions. If you lose your phone, with a bit of luck can be found by someone that can try to return it. Help them out by adding owner information to the lock screen.
You can add your name, contact information or emergency contact to lock screen in Settings -> Security -> Owner Information. Even with a lock screen enabled, anyone with your phone can see this information. Make sure that information is the one by which those who pick up your device can reach you (or your emergency contact), even if you lose your phone.
Nothing can protect you fully when you lose or have your device stolen. So, the best thing still is the caution: be careful when using the device in public places, put them in a place that is easy to achieve and feel that is with you still and keep extra careful. After all, smartphone is not cheap for you out losing or having stolen all the time.
If you have more security tips for Android, share in the comments below. Your help is very welcome!