How to configure Android to protect your privacy to the fullest

Android Security - How to configure Android to protect your privacy

We will explain how to configure Android to protect your privacy as much as possible. To do this, we will give you a series of tips and we will propose several changes that you can make in some applications. The goal is that you can have the maximum privacy possible when using your mobile, or at least you can decide the degree of privacy you want to have.

Of course, something you should keep in mind is that when you make some changes that involve sending less data to Android servicessome of its functions or services may stop working properly.

The advice we give you will try to explain in the best possible way, although keep in mind that depending on the manufacturer of your mobile there may be different options or different paths to find them due to their personalization layer

Configure your android mobile lock

The first step to protect your privacy is to do it from people who can have physical access to your phone. To do this, the first step is always to lock the phone with a password, pattern or PIN code. To get started, go to the Settings app, and tap Security and location to review the options inside.

Once you have entered Security and location, in the Security section of the device you will have several options. You can click on the Screen lock option to access methods to lock it with certain types of key or pattern.

If you click on the Screen lock option you will be able to see several options. Swiping is the worst lock you can do, since just by swiping you will enter your mobile. Therefore, it is best to click on the Pattern , PIN or Password options, and follow the steps to configure each of them. So at least, if someone has your cell phone they will have to guess what you put in to enter. If you choose password, remember our tips to make a strong password.

When you configure one of these methods, you can determine how much information notifications show when the mobile is locked. If you want to maximize privacy it is best not to show sensitive content or directly not to show notifications, but this already depends on your priorities.

You will also see that you’ll have the ability to lock the phone with Fingerprint or Face Unlock. This is a decision that helps your mobile to be better protected against natural persons who may have access to it. In addition, your mobile will always ask you to also enter a PIN or password in case the reader fails.

But on the other hand, you may not trust Google or the security service of the manufacturer in which this data is stored, and to make sure they do not get your face or fingerprint you prefer not to block the mobile with them. Here, the only thing I can tell you is that most companies have many methods to obtain your photos, surely you have uploaded it to a social network, so it is always safer to maximize the defense of your phone against people who They can physically access it.

When you set a lock type, you can enter the Screen lock settings option by clicking on the gear icon. In these options, for example, you can activate the automatic lock so that the mobile is locked every time you turn off the screen or when it has been off for a certain time. In some phones you can also configure automatic data deletion if you fail to enter the password or pattern certain times.

Control the permissions of your applications

Once you have protected your mobile phone from the eyes of people who may have physical access to it, the next step is to protect your privacy from the applications you have installed. To do this, you will have to review the permissions you give to each of them. But keep in mind that some applications may stop working properly if they lack certain permissions, which they will continue to ask you when you are going to perform certain actions.

In any case, enter the mobile settings and tap on Applications and notifications. Once inside, click on Advanced to show more options, and once inside click on the Application Permissions option. Keep in mind that depending on the personalization layer of your mobile, the path may be a bit different, that is, you can also use the settings search to find the Application Permissions option.

You will go to a screen where a list appears with all the types of permissions that your mobile can give. What you are going to have to do here is decide what types of data you want to keep private, and click on the permission you want to configure. If you want, you can configure one first, then go back and continue configuring others. This is the list of all the permissions you can configure, explained so that you understand them.

  • Storage: Permission to access the hard drive of your mobile to be able to see what files you have in certain folders and use them. For example, to get the photos you have.
  • Calendar: Permission to access the calendar of your mobile account, so you can see all the appointments you have and be able to add new ones to it.
  • Contacts: Permission to see the contacts you have in your calendar and to interact with your data. For example, when in a social network you give the option to search for people you already know, it will use the data of your contacts as your mobile to know if they are in it.
  • Camera: Permission to use your mobile camera, such as when you take a picture using the internal menu of a messaging application or a social network.
  • Microphone: Permission to use your mobile microphone to make recordings. For example, for the attendee to listen when you speak or can send voice messages in a messaging application.
  • Call log: Permission to enter your phone application and view the calls you have made.
  • SMS: Permission to read the SMS that reach your mobile. For example, when an application sends you a verification code, you can ask for this permission so you don’t have to write it by hand and automatically detect it.
  • Body sensors: Permission to access the biometric sensors of your mobile, such as the fingerprint scanner in the case that an application asks you to use it to verify your identity.
  • Telephone: Permission to access the telephone application and make calls for you.
  • Location: Permission to access the GPS data of your mobile. Quiet, because now we go into more detail in this permit.
  • Additional permits: Another series of permits that the manufacturer of your mobile phone may have introduced or that are subject to other less common tools, such as information about your car if you have Android in one.

When you click on one of the permissions, you will see a list of all the apps that can access this data. All you have to do is deactivate all the apps that you don’t want to be able to access the data of each of your permissions. Therefore, it is very important that you understand the permissions and that you know how to distinguish when an application is asking you for permissions that it does not need to function properly.

Set limits on your mobile’s GPS

One of the permissions you can control is access to your location. But in this case there are not only many applications that can access it, but Google itself can also register it. One of the ways to avoid it is to disconnect the GPS from the mobile, although if you later want to use the maps or another similar app you must activate them temporarily. To do this, enter the Settings application, and tap Security and location.

Once inside, go down to the Privacy section, and in it click on the Location option that you can see how it appears activated by default. Remember that depending on the personalization layer of your mobile, the path may be a bit different, that is, you can also use the settings search to find the Application Permissions option.

You will enter a screen where you will be informed of the latest applications that have accessed your location, and where there is also an option to access your permissions. But we have already done that before, that is, to completely deactivate your GPS you must deactivate the option Use the location you have above.

Check Google’s native services

Another option you have available on Android is to review and configure access to your data from Google services. To do this, enter the Settings application, and click on the Google option: Services and preferences that will be almost at the end of the whole.
You will enter a screen where you will see all the Google services that can be used on Android. Many of them do not need to be touched, such as Chromebook or device sharing, but there are others in which you can configure some important settings. The first option is Google Account, which we will explain a little later, but for now we will configure the rest.
To start, click on the Ads option. In it you can reset your advertising ID to reset the data that is collected about you to show you advertising that is relevant to you. And if you don’t want data to be collected for this purpose, enable the Disable Ads Customization option that you will see in this window.
Now go back to the Google menu, and click on the Connected applications option. Here you will see a list of the applications that are connected to your Google account. If you click on one of the applications you will be able to see all the data you access, on a screen where you will have a Disconnect button to unlink that third-party service.
Go back to the Google menu, and continue reviewing the other options, with special attention to those of Share on device to avoid sharing data from other Google applications, backups, or the Security option with which to manage the options To locate your device.

Searches and Google Assistant

In the menu of the previous step that you access through the Google option: Services and preferences there is another section that we have not touched, and that we wanted to deal with in depth. This is the Search, the Assistant and Voice, which when you click on it takes you to a page where you can adjust the options of voice commands and the Google assistant. Here you have everything you can change in each of the options in this menu:

  • If you click on the General option, you can deactivate several options such as saving recent pages you visit, deactivating personal results related to other third-party apps, or auto-complete with search trends, which collects the searches you usually do.
  • If you click on the Notifications option, you can deactivate all notifications that Google sends you. From proactive to sports reminders or those related to meteorology or frequent travel.
  • If you click on the Voice option, you can manage your languages, apply filters for bad words or disable the ability to record audio through Bluetooth devices. You can also deactivate the detection of the OK Google command with which to invoke the wizard, so that the mobile is not listening until you hear it said.
  • If you click on the Language and region option, you can configure the language of your searches and the region. By default Google will detect your region when you ask for things with voice commands, but you can change this to put any other.
  • If you click on the Information option, you will see the information of the conditions of service, privacy policy, legal notices and open source licenses.

You will see that we have left aside the Google Assistant option, and that is because it alone needs more extensive clarifications. Inside you can control everything related to the assistant, such as the way you want to be called or shopping lists or time units. Here, it is important that you click on Your data in the wizard.

You will enter a page where you can see the data that your assistant has been using. On this page you can also go to the information that Google collects about you and that we will talk about in a moment, but for now, click on the Assistant Activity button in the Recent Activity field.

You will go to a page where you can see that by default the information of what you do with the assistant is collected until you delete it manually, and below you have a list of activities that you can delete. However, if you click on Change this setting you can make the activity be deleted automatically after 3 or 18 months.

Disable the find device option

But before continuing, let’s stop with another of the options we mentioned two points ago, to find your device. You can also access it in Security and location, by clicking on the Find my device option. By default it is usually pre-activated, and what it does is send Google periodically information about where you are so that if you lose your phone, you can know where it is currently.

When you enter Find my device you can see the information on how to access it from the web or with Google searches. Here, if you do not want to constantly send Google the position of your mobile you can deactivate the option, but keep in mind that if your mobile is lost or stolen you will no longer know where it is to recover it.

Control the data that Google collects about you

Next we are going to tell you how to manage the data that Google has collected about you, something that you can do both from your Android phone and from your browser. To manage it, you have to enter the My Activity website on Google by entering from the browser to the address myactivity.google.com, or from the Google menu of the previous steps.

The first thing you can do on the home page is to review your activity on Google and manually delete all the entries you want. Above all you also have a search engine to find specific activities, or to delete them depending on the parameters you set.

But although deleting the activity is a short-term solution, you will also have the option to manage the data that Google is collecting about what you do. To do this, press the menu button at the top left, which comes out with a three-stripe icon, and when the menu is displayed, click on the option Controls your account activity.

You will go to a screen where you can see all the types of data that Google is collecting about you, and where you can deactivate the types of data that you do not want to be collected with the buttons in each box. You can deactivate your web history and what you do in applications, your location history, information about your device, your voice and audio activity, or YouTube search and playback histories.

Keep in mind that each of these types of data Google uses them to offer you improved experiences for your services, that is, when you delete them, some may stop working or are not as reliable as they were when presenting results. In any case, if you want maximum privacy, these are options that you should consider deactivating.

Disable sending of samples in Google Play Protect

The Android application store has its own security system, to which you periodically send samples of all the applications you have to search for threats. If you do not want to send this data to Google you can deactivate the option, although in exchange your mobile will be a little more insecure. If you want to proceed, open the Google Play app store, and in its side menu click on the Play Protect option.

You will go to the security system screen of the application store, where you are told if everything is correct and you are warned that you periodically analyze your mobile to look for any anomalous behavior. To deactivate this, click on the configuration button at the top right, the one with the gear icon.

You will go to a screen with two options. First disable the option Search security threats on device to stop allowing the application to analyze your mobile. And then, if you want you can also deactivate the sending of unknown applications so that Google does not know what you install beyond its official store. I repeat, in return you will lose a layer of security.

Meditate using a VPN or a DNS

If you want to maximize your privacy when connecting to the Internet from your mobile, there are two aspects that can help you on Android: set up a VPN and block by DNS. VPN networks help hide your real IP address when you connect to the Internet, and can even pretend you’re connected from another site.

Meanwhile, using a different DNS than your operator helps maximize privacy, increase security against attacks or avoid your operator’s crashes may interest you.

To use any of these two options, you have to enter the Network and Internet option of your Android settings. Once inside, click on Advanced, and there you can click on the VPN or private DNS options. When you click on one of the two, just follow the steps you are taking to configure them.

For specific moments when you do not want to know anything about yourself or your mobile to send any signal, you also have the option to activate the airplane mode. This mode will cause you to not have Internet, but it can help you in specific moments. You will have it on the quick action screen of Android, or in the advanced Network and Internet next to the VPN and DNS.

Mobile encryption and manufacturer-specific settings

Two more options that you should consider. The first is the encryption of your mobile, which by default is usually pre-activated but it never hurts to check. In Android settings, click Security and location, and Advanced Give encryption and credentials. Here, make sure the mobile is always encrypted.

And depending on the manufacturer of your mobile, there may be specific privacy settings with the data that is taken from the mobile. In these settings you can disable the sending of usage statistics to the manufacturer, as well as sending data of what you do with those that then improve the assistance of the device.

Beyond Android, things to keep in mind

With all these steps and tips we have given you, you can have Android collect and disseminate the minimum information about you. But this will not prevent other services or applications from collecting and disseminating this data or many others. For example, when you browse the Internet or when using a specific application.

Another aspect to consider is the search engines you use on the Internet. Google sends your search data to Google, Bing sends it to Microsoft, and so most of the principals can compromise your privacy.

In addition, it is also important to be careful with the applications you install. But there are always some applications that you cannot do without, and in those cases it is best to review the individual privacy settings of each app.