Tips for improving Android device security

These devices may be more vulnerable than your PC

With consumers increasingly using their mobile devices for all electronic transactions, including banking, there is growing concern about the security of mobile devices.

The National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence, part of the Commerce Department, says ensuring the security of the information that a mobile device accesses, stores, and processes is a difficult cybersecurity challenge with no easy solution.

It finds that security controls haven't kept up with the risks posed by smartphones and tablets. This can be a critical issue in business environments, when employees are using personal devices to connect to a corporate network.

Security tips

Android device users should not use unknown, free, and unsecured Wi-Fi connections without VPN technology. At the same time, keeping your phone's Wi-Fi and Bluetooth enabled all the time makes it easier for hackers to access your phone.

App downloads can also be a security risk. When you download an app, obtain it from a known, reputable source. Just like you would on a PC, avoid clicking on links unless you are completely sure of the source.

Passwords on mobile devices are just as important on mobile devices as they are on PCs. Try to use complex passwords and change them frequently.

"As Android system and mobile internet usage continues to grow, traditional antivirus apps are no longer sufficient," said Pan Qi, Vice President of Cheetah Mobile, which this week introduced a free mobile security app, CM Security Master.

Threats to government networks

A report issued in April by the Department of Homeland Security underscored the threat to the U.S. government. Despite being a minor segment in the overall marketplace, the report said mobile devices used by government employees "represent an avenue to attack the back-end systems containing data on millions of Americans," not to mention the sensitive information about governmental functions.

The report notes that in the U.S., there are no requirements requiring carriers to run encryption or provide privacy protections on their networks.

Consumers who want to improve the security of their Android devices have lots of options. Tech site Tom's Guide provides recommendations for the best mobile security apps in three categories.

Learn more in the ConsumerAffairs Cell Phone Buyers Guide.

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