Does your Android device respect your privacy? The answer may be… no. Your private data, text messages, browsing history, location and even photos are all simple targets for third parties.
The best way to protect Android? Stop using it.
Before we start to modify your Android device, you must point out that the best solution is not to use an Android device. Of course, for some people, it is easier said than done. However, it’s best to consider alternatives to Android, such as using iOS (iOS Privacy Guide), Linux-based phones (Librem 5), or using different operating systems (such as Lineage OS) on Android phones). If you want to stick to Android, we will continue… Many Android apps are exposed as dangerous security threats – malware-infected devices, stealing your bandwidth, and exposing your private information to third parties. Google regularly removes malware-infected apps from the Play Store. Many of these products are highly valued and trusted by millions of users. Many are turning to virtual private networks (VPNs) to increase security, privacy and access to blocked content. But be careful when considering the VPN application for Android devices. One group of researchers found that most Android VPN applications are insecure and dangerous (see the example in the VPN Alerts list). But don’t let it stop you – using VPN is critical to protecting, protecting and anonymizing your online activities. This is especially important in countries with large-scale surveillance and Internet service providers recording user activity (US, UK and most of Europe). In this guide we will:
- Remove intrusive Android apps that invade your privacy.
- Set up a VPN on your Android device to encrypt Internet traffic.
- Block ads on your Android.
- Protect your SMS messages with encryption.
- Adjust Android settings for more privacy and security.
Let’s get started now.
Step 1: Remove these Android apps!
Since most apps are privacy nightmares, consider removing everything that is not absolutely necessary for your life. Here are a few types of apps you might want to delete:
- Social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.)
- Game (angry bird, with friends, mean me)
- Weather (GO weather forecast and widgets)
- Traffic (Uber, Lyft and other location tracking applications)
- Messenger / Photo / Chat ( Snapchat, WhatsApp, QQ)
- Drawing/photo editing
For bad apps, you may not find that they have stolen your data or messed up your device until it is too late. There are other categories that do not list the above list, but the general rules still apply: if it is not absolutely necessary, just delete it. F-Droid – A good alternative to the Google Play Store is F-Droid. F-Droid is basically a large catalog of free and open source software (FOSS). Unlike the Google Play store, it doesn’t invade your privacy. check it out.
Step 2: Use the built-in Android VPN configuration
VPN users are becoming more and more popular. A good VPN can be said to be the best privacy tool to protect your Android device by encrypting your internet connection. (For a quick course on VPN, check out the main VPN guide.) When using VPN on Android, you have two options: Option 1 – Use the built-in VPN feature on your Android device . With this option, you simply import the VPN profile and then configure everything in the Android settings. This setup method is very stable and secure – you don’t have to rely on more applications. One drawback is that the setup is a bit more complicated. For step-by-step instructions, see this great tutorial. Built-in support for two VPN IPSec configuration is perfect for privacy and VPN.ac . Option 2 – Use a high quality, secure Android VPN app . Since many Android VPN applications are simply not secure, you should be careful with this option. On the positive side, using a good application is more convenient and easier to use. Here are three great options:
- ExpressVPN for Android – This is a reliable application that uses the highest encryption standards and the fastest VPN server. Customer service is also great, with 24/7 live chat support and a 30-day money back guarantee. (Price: $6.67 per month, this 49% discount ) More details can be found in the ExpressVPN review.
- VyprVPN for Android – this gives you a very secure, stable and fast 256-bit encrypted connection. The app also allows you to accurately configure which applications on your device pass the VPN and which do not. Check out my comments on VyprVPN for more details.
- VPN.ac for Android – This is another good choice for VPN.ac network security professionals. It also includes different security features not found in most VPN applications, such as double-hop connections, protocol selection, and obfuscation (Stealth VPN). (See the comments on VPN.ac. )
For most people, option 2 is probably the best because it’s simple. IMPORTANT : There are many free VPNs on the market that include malware, tracking and other privacy issues. This is especially true for Android devices. For a discussion of these dangers, please see the free VPN guide.
Step 3: Block ads, tracking and malware…
Recently, malware and viruses that affect Android devices have exploded. The combination of advertising and malware is called a malicious advertisement. Online advertising is a simple attack vector for the following reasons:
- Most sites host ads from third-party domains that are not trusted.
- Third-party ad domains may be hijacked or compromised to inject malware and ransomware into ads
- No need to click – just load the website to infect your device
This growing problem has even affected major websites such as the New York Times and the BBC. However, be careful when choosing an ad blocker. Many free ad blockers can make money from your data and work directly with advertising agencies to make a profit. Again, when it is free, you are the product. A good solution is to use an ad and tracking interceptor called TrackStop built into Perfect Privacy VPN. This gives you a powerful ad blocker that works with your VPN without having to install any additional software. You can get the details of TrackStop here; it will effectively block:
- Over 30,000 tracking and advertising domains
- More than 45,000 known malware domains
- More than 20,000 phishing domain names
The only free Android ad blocker that might be worth considering is uBlock Origin, which is an add-on to the Firefox browser on Android.
Step 4: Secure Messaging
Governments, businesses and hackers have been monitoring text messages and listening to calls for years. The biggest messaging app (WhatsApp) is owned by Facebook, which has been helping the government illegally monitor citizens since 2009. Despite claiming “security,” WhatsApp does not use end-to-end encryption and has been plagued by known security issues. Solution (Secure Messaging Application) : You can use secure and encrypted (end-to-end encryption) messaging applications such as Signal or Threema . Despite being a third-party application, these two options seem to work well: Signal is an excellent free secure messaging application with 256-bit AES end-to-end encryption. When you install Signal, it integrates well with your Android device and protects your data with perfect forward security. The code is also open source, which is an extra bonus. (The Android signal download here.) Threema is another secure messaging option that utilizes end-to-end encryption. It is located in Switzerland and is a low-cost ($2.99) replacement for those looking for a more secure messaging option. You can download the Android version here and get started. Wire is also a good choice, it’s more than just a messaging app. See other secure messaging apps on the Privacy Tools page.
Step 5: Protect your Android settings
To protect your privacy and security, it’s a good idea to modify your Android settings. Modifying these settings will greatly enhance the security of your device while protecting your privacy. This is what you can do:
- Prevent unauthorized application installations. Android devices can easily install third-party apps on devices outside the Play Store. This is of course a serious security threat because many applications contain malware. Go to Settings > Security > Unknown sources (closed).
- Set a strong password (not a fingerprint). You can do this from Settings > Security > Screen Lock .
- Enable auto-lock for your device. Go to Settings > Security > Autolock (immediately).
- Disable built-in Google services. These “services” will collect your data, target advertising, and threaten your privacy and security. The best option is to not sign in to Gmail, and/or manually change these services in Google Settings .
- Encrypt your device (although this may slow down older Android devices). To do this, go to Settings > Security > Encrypt Device (as prompted).
- Disable cloud backup storage. For many years, Google has been a close partner of law enforcement (and NSA) to provide private customer data. Of course, this information can also be hacked and published online. So go to Settings > Backup & Reset > Back Up My Data(Disabled).
- Reject ad tracking. This is another way Google and its advertising partners can track your behavior and then hit you through personalized advertising. Go to Google Settings > Ads > Opt out of interest-based ads .
- Disable location tracking and clear location history. Again, this information is used to customize the ad, so it’s a good idea to turn it off. Go to Settings > Location (use the top switch to turn off), then go to Google Location History (scroll to the bottom and close) and finally delete the location history .
Just making the above changes will greatly enhance your privacy and security.
Enjoy safe and unlimited Android devices!
You have it. If you follow this 5-step solution guide, you will have a secure and protected Android device that gives you unlimited access to the entire Internet (thanks to your VPN service). This secure Android setting gives you the following advantages:
- Encrypt, protect and anonymize all Internet traffic through a VPN configuration.
- You won’t have unnecessary/hazardous applications to collect your data (because all unnecessary applications are deleted).
- Ads, malware, and tracking domains are now blocked.
- If you need to use messaging or VOIP, all communications/messages will be protected with end-to-end 256-bit encryption.
- Your Android settings will provide you with further privacy and security, as well as the proposed changes above.
Protecting your Android device is just one step in restoring privacy. You may also want to consider using a secure browser, ad blocker and best VPN to meet your unique needs.