Ways to protect your privacy on your Android device

At Gate Guardian we’re releasing a bunch of guides that will offer tips and ways to protect your privacy. In this post, we look at the ways you can protect the privacy of your Android device.

Follow these easy steps to protect the personal data on your Android devices, and don’t forget that can include TVs and other dedicated devices as well as phones and tablets.

*Worth pointing out the instructions might vary depending on your Android version.

Minimise Google’s data collection

Minimise Google’s data collection (If you use Google!) On most Android devices you don’t have to sign in with your Google account, although some services may be limited. Also, make sure you review your Google activity profile at https://myactivity.google.com/myactivity.

1. Lock-down your device (Use a PIN or ideally an alphanumeric password to lock your device.)

How: Go into settings > Security > Screen lock

2. Encrypt your Android device to protect the data stored on it.

Note that a PIN or password needs to be set to do this, and the device needs to be plugged in.

How: Settings > Security > Encrypt phone/tablet

3. Keep the device’s software up-to-date.

Good advice for any device, not just Android.

How: Settings > About phone/tablet > System Update

4. Be wary of third-party app stores.

Also, don’t allow the installation of apps from “unknown sources” unless you’re very confident in the source.

How: Settings > Security > Unknown sources

5. When installing an app, check its permissions first.

Think carefully about whether to continue the installation if it’s requesting access to sensitive data. Find apps that require minimal permissions.

6. Review permissions for installed apps.

You may have missed changes during updates or perhaps changed your opinion of what’s acceptable. Remove apps you no longer use and consider replacing some with ones that request the minimum permissions.

How: Settings > Apps > [app name]

7. Consider which apps you want syncing with the cloud.

Not syncing apps will limit the data they send to the cloud.

How: Settings > Accounts section > [app name]

8. Hide private notifications.

Stop apps from showing notification content in the lock screen (newer versions of Android only).

How: Settings > Sound & notifications

9. Review default apps.

Assess your default applications, making sure you trust critical communication apps like email, SMS, and browser (newer versions of Android only).

How: Settings > Apps > ⚙ icon > Default

10. Don’t share your location with apps.

Stop individual apps accessing your location (newer versions of Android only).

How: Settings > Apps > ⚙ icon > App permissions > Location

11. Don’t share your location with Google.

Stop Google services tracking your location, and reset your location history.

How: Settings > Location > Google Location History

12. Consider using a non-Google version of Android.

One popular example is LineageOS, based on CyanogenMod, although this requires technical knowledge to install on your device.

How: Be aware of the risks and follow the install guides.

13. Install a privacy browser and set this as your default search engine.

Although you can’t add a browser built-in because Google doesn’t include any as an option there are plenty of browsers you can use. There are plenty of privacy focussed browsers out there. DuckDuckGo or Brave are both pretty popular and worth checking out.

Nice work! You’ve just taken a few steps to increase your privacy on your Android device. Check out our blog for more articles and meet our first privacy guardian Zora, who helps you use all your favourite apps without being tracked.

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