Securing your Android Phone can be accomplished in many different ways, and by catering to many different tastes, so no single way is correct, or best for everyone. I do recommend at least the following as a minimum spread on your device. There are three main areas for security on your device, those settings which left in default mode can be a serious security risk, those apps and programs which help secure your device like AntiVirus and AntiMalware, and AntiTheft apps which can lock-down and secure your information should your device be lost or stolen.
Part-2: Take Control of your Google Account
We’ve all heard the old axiom that building a good house requires a good foundation. I prefer the Engineer’s version of that saying: “To build a stable house requires a square, true, and level foundation. Well, ensuring your sole control over your account is the equivalent first step in our endeavor. Actually, you can have any kind of account as your primary account for your Android phone, but we’re presuming for the purposes of this article that you have a Google Account. If you have a Microsoft or Yahoo account, you’ll need to do some of your own research to find these kind of equivalent settings.
And while it might sound counter-intuitive to securing your device, we actually need to take control of your Google account before we can harden your device. This is to ensure that you are the only person with access to your Google Account. Even if you are certain that you never shared your account password with a good friend, or significant other, your account could still have been compromised. This is the perfect opportunity to confirm that your account is still entirely yours.
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.
If you’ve ever seen a .menc file before, you probably saw it on an external memory card that you pulled out of your Windows Phone device.Â Â
Essentially, .menc (Mobile Encryption) files areÂ just your personal data (the PIM.VOL file that contains all of your Contacts for example) that are encrypted.Â The extension of .menc lets the Operating System (OS) know which files are encrypted, andÂ whether or notÂ they can be openedÂ by the user.Â Â To do so, theÂ previously recorded key (user password) must match the key provided by the user when unlocking the device.Â But you won’t see those .menc files, because they are typically hidden by the OS so as not to be visible to the end-userÂ during casual browsing.Â Â If youÂ ever chose toÂ encryptÂ the files you store on yourÂ external storage (external memory card, etc), then they may be visible if you took that card to another computer or device for viewing.
If you’re trying to recover those files, then you have to meet some rather special requirements in order to proceed.Â Unfortunately, if you have Hard Reset the device, or have a different device than the one that the files were originally created on, then the encryption/decryption keys are now lost or noÂ longer the same, then sadly your files are totally inaccessible.Â
However,Â if you have access to the same device that the .menc files were originally created on, and youÂ have NOT performed a Hard Reset on the device, then you can still salvage the files:
- Turn the storage card encryption off: Go to Start >Â Settings > System >Â Encryption (varies by your Operating System version) and uncheck the â€œEncrypt files when placed on a storage cardâ€ box.Â From this point forward,Â all NEW files created on that card will be unencrypted, but existing files will still be encrypted.
- Next, bring-up your favorite File Explorer, then browseÂ to your Storage Card. Make a new folder on the storage card, and call it â€œOLDDataâ€.Â This folder will, of course, be unencrypted.
- Now, find whatever files you want to decrypt and copy them into this folder.Â Those files will be decypted as they copy intoÂ the new folder.Â You can now read these files on any other computer or phone.
Congratulations, you’ve just saved some data.Â Â Hopefully it will turn out to be highly important data, which will make your victory taste just a little bit sweeter…