Android Phone Security – Risks and Vulnerabilities

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Android Phone Security

Technology is heading forward with innovations that enhance speed and performance. The same has happened with mobile computing solutions. If we dial back a decade, we would be only talking about the iPhone, and there would be no comparison between iOS and Android.

Now, in a span of 10 years, Android OS is powering 2 billion smartphones. It is not just competing with the iPhone but has pushed it back to become the world’s most widely used mobile operating system. That is why we should never underestimate the technological capabilities of an application or platform.

With Android having billions of active users and increasing, it has kept upgrading itself to meet industry standards and achieve customer satisfaction.

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Android resonates with the saying of “With great power comes great responsibility.” Android has made significant and notable advancements in the past several years due to which it has generated an enormous selling power. It’s not over though.

Still, the mobile operating system has to take good care of the user base and protect them from cyber threats and malware. The problem that usually arises with high-level tech advancements is security.

The balance between technological power and safety is not going to be the same. This shift in balance and power is because of users and not of Android as an operating system.

Android users are given complete freedom to access all types of applications from different online platforms, and they can choose not to follow the recommended safety regulations.

If the safety settings are all turned off, it gives more room for malicious sites and malware containing apps to infiltrate the smartphone device. A lot is going on behind the scenes, and it can be very harmful to any Android device.

Risks and Vulnerabilities of Android OS

  1. Fake ID is one of the most vulnerable areas for Android. It allows people to create fake identities and impersonate without the user having any knowledge about it.
    By making such copied applications, it puts the user at great risk because he/she doesn’t know whether to trust the platform or not. The main problem here is that the installed Android package cannot distinguish between a fake application and a trusted one.
    The “Verify Apps” program is integrated to remove applications containing malware and immediately inform the user that it is from a third-party platform. Google has failed in this regard because they are unable to count malware it can’t see.
  2. The Master Key vulnerability was recently discovered at SophosLabs, and they have proved that Android will install applications that have never received legal approval.
    Cybercriminals use this loophole to steal personal data and information, and they do it by creating two files with the same name. When it comes to installation, the Android installer package checks only the first file but uses the second one.
  3. Sideloading applications is easy on Android devices. Android’s defenses can collapse with a few taps by the user. As the system is in complete control of the user, he/she can customize it in any way possible.
    Most users pay zero attention to permissions and unauthorized sources so that they will bypass 5 of 7 security layers directly.
  4. Version fragmentation is a big safety concern for Android, and it only increases the level of uncertainty in the Android ecosystem.
    The OS is present across many devices, and it is possible that they may not run on the same version. While Google keeps releasing new safety fixes on the latest version, it leaves old customers vulnerable to security threats.

Even if Google creates the next-level operating system with better security features, it still depends on the users because they are the weak link in the entire security chain. This applies to every platform, mobile device, and application.

Therefore, it is paramount for users to follow certain steps to minimize risks and keep their mobile devices secure.

10 Ways to Protect your Android Phone

We can complain all we want about Android OS, but we must consider the consequences we have to face if something goes south with our Android mobile devices.

The weak link will always be the user, so when we have complete control over the system, we need to use the features to their best ability. In this article, we have provided 10 advanced and overlooked options to deal with key vulnerabilities of Android.

1. Take a look at App Store Reviews

Reviews from an app store don’t show the complete picture, but they help understand the overall sentiment. There will be many false reviews giving either too high or low stars, so it is important to identify such discrepancies from one application to another.

Applications ask for permission before proceeding with the installation, and if a user simply clicks on all green buttons, the app can do whatever it wants.

To check its reliability, users must assess the given features and measure whether it is reasonable to allow these permissions or not. This helps in filtering spam applications and directs users to the right platform.

2. Install a Mobile Security Tool

Nowadays, every smartphone comes with some pre-installed security tool, but the user usually disables it. Installing a mobile security tool on your Android device is a must. There are so many options available in the Play Store, and one can use any top-rated application.

Security tools can perform different tasks to protect your mobile from malware, such as active scanning, find my device, and block pre-existing viruses. Also, it would be better to switch on the BS sensors. It can help you to locate more dodgy permissions from third-party sources.

3. Use Google Play Protect

Google has launched a malware scanner on the app store, and it is made to run daily safety checks. It is dubbed Google Play Protect. The best part about the scanner is that it reports the virus before even downloading the application.

Users can use the scanner if their smartphone is performing poorly after downloading a particular application. The app’s protection settings are easy to customize, and users can set the timings for running the malware scanner.

4. Basic Layers of Protection

The 2 most important security features provided by Android are password and two-step verification. Even though every modern smartphone has biometric verification, it is still better to have a pattern or four-digit password.

Many people suggest using a 6-digit password comprising letters and digits. The two-step verification is an added layer of protection for your Android device, as it prevents hackers from getting access to a user account.

Google has made it possible for users to safeguard their personal information through this two-step verification. So it is best to double-check the data associated with a particular Gmail account or phone number.

5. Turn off Location History

Google is always on the move to figure out every user’s exact locations, and they do it to send personalized maps and recommendations. In some cases, they even use the location history to create targeted ads.

This can be a bugger for many Android users because allowing the device to keep a record of all the locations puts you in the wrong position. To be out of the radar, you just have to shut down Google Location history. This is available in the privacy settings, and you have to ensure that the location option is paused.

6. Safe Online Activity

To make your online browsing safe, you have to choose a better Google Chrome version. Android receives regular updates to enhance the browsing experience.

Enhanced safe browsing is a new system developed for Android users to maintain privacy and secure the data.

7. Smart Lock & Lockdown Mode

Android has incorporated many security features into its devices, but users have to make sure they activate and use them from time to time. A smart lock is designed to make security features a little less complicated.

This feature lets the device be unlocked wherever the user feels it’s a trusted place. Another advanced security feature is lockdown mode, and it is usually used when someone other than the user tries to access the Android phone.

While in lockdown mode, the device does not use fingerprint or face unlock because they can easily be extracted from a user. They only allow smart lock security options – pattern or pin – to get past the lock screen.

8. Screen Pinning

Screen pinning is an unknown-to-most security feature that helps users lock a particular application and provide a password to gain access. This way, anyone other than the owner has to know the password to know the contents of that specific application.

The password is mostly going to be a fingerprint, so it is impossible to gain access without the user knowing about it. This feature is available in your main system settings under the name “Advanced” or “Other security settings.” It is also recommended to enable unlock pattern before the screen pinning feature is activated.

9. Install Find My Device

Go for a mobile manufacturer that provides a find my device service. Even Google has launched several applications to gain location access on the mobile. This can also be done using Play Protect. Head over to the security section and hit Find My Device.

After you have enabled this option, you can easily track the location of your device from any web browser. As long as you can log in to your Google account, you will pinpoint your Android device within a matter of seconds.

10. Add Permission Manager

With the help of a permission manager, users can disable the sync option for any application. Whenever your data syncs to the cloud server, it puts you at significant risk, and you will be the primary target for hackers.

So it is suggested to minimize cloud syncing, especially for the messaging apps. There are many applications available in the app store, so make sure to read reviews and observe the ratings to avoid malware containing permission managers.

Conclusion

Every platform has some or other security loophole(s), so it is in our hands to use good security features and follow safety protocols. Android is a robust operating system. It does everything to protect user data and privacy, so we should understand the type of app we are dealing with before granting any permissions.

In future versions of Android, we will witness better integration for both privacy and security tools. So we need to stay updated and enhance the safety level of our Android mobile devices.

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