Hardening your Android Device, Part-1

There are many steps that should be taken in following the general strategy of hardening one’s mobile device.  For the purposes of this article, I’ll be hardening a Samsung Galaxy S7.  This process will be divided into three parts: Preparation Work will be Part-1,  Take Control of your Google Account Part-2, and finally Part-3 will be the actual Hardening of the Android Phone.

Part-1: Prep Work
Let’s get some housekeeping chores done first, prior to attempting to harden your Android Device. We’ll begin by actually doing some updates on your PC if you have one.  If you don’t have a PC that you use any of your current phone services from, then you’re find to move on to Part-2.

Prep Step 1: Download the latest updates to your AntiVirus and AntiMalware solutions of choice on your PC.  Repeat until you get the message that all updates are already applied, or no further updates exist.  If you do not yet have an AntiVirus or AntiMalware solution installed, I recommend AVAST for AntiVirus protection, and Malwarebyte’s aptly-named AntiMalware for AntiMalware protection.   Both are free for personal use, and find more bad actors than the retail products out there (like Norton, McAfee, etc). Once these are installed or updated, I would then run a full system scan on your PC system with each.  If your system has been compromised, it becomes difficult or impossible to securely and properly Harden your phone.

Prep Step 2: Download and install the latest OS Updates to your PC. 

Prep Step 3: I would highly recommend that you adopt a Password Manager if you haven’t done so already.  This type of application is CRITICAL to maintaining your personal privacy and financial security.  You may say “I can remember my own passwords all by myself, thank you very much.”  While you may very well have perfect recall of any and all passwords you employ, a Password Manager may exist to make your life easier, but it’s primary mission is to make your system more secure. 

A case in point, in order for you to remember that banking password, you likely memorized a password that is easy to recall, which is actually counter-productive for security purposes.  The human mind most easily remembers words with significance, which makes the password you set for your bank vulnerable to hacking via Brute Dictionary Attack.  A good Password Manager will have a Random Password Generator, which entirely bypasses this type of attack, and gives you the peace of mind knowing that your Banking password is so complex that it would take 552 Quadrillion Years to crack via Brute Force.   Check the worthiness of your own password’s security for yourself!. The fact that a Password Manager could also conceivably make your life easier on top of helping you to secure your personal and financial security?  That’s just icing on the cake. 

The password manager that I use and personally recommend is LastPass, which has recently been updated to version 4.0, and provides a shiny new User Interface.  This application will make your future steps in the Hardening Process below much easier to complete, especially with it’s built-in random password generator.  Did I mention that it’s free for personal use?  You can’t beat free.  And it has an Android App in the Play Store, which is by far more useful than the Windows Phone version of the App.  And the Android App is free too!  The best part?  If you end up loving LastPass as much as I do, and you want to support the developers by buying a subscription, it’s only $12 a year.  Absolutely one of the best purchases I’ve ever made.

Prep Step 4: After you’ve completed the system scan of your system from Prep Step 1, and updated your OS from Prep Step 2, and optionally installed a Password Manager from Prep Step 3, please reboot your system to ensure a fresh start to rest of the hardening process.

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