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8 Privacy Tips For Android Users by Ethical Hackers Club

From the beginning, personal computers have presented us with privacy challenges. But today’s smartphones takes it all to a new level. They store our conversations, track our locations, save our contacts, log our browsing habits, manage our social networks, and much more.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission recommends 10 steps to secure your smartphone. These cover basic points such as setting a PIN, backing up your data, and installing updates. Some suggestions, such as not rooting your phone and only installing apps from trusted sources, are great for common users but not required. 
For example, flashing a custom ROM and installing software from alternative markets is the only way to break out of Google’s ecosystem.

Must read: Is Online Privacy Important ?

I would consider their suggestions a starting point on a way to protect your smartphones from malicious software, thieves who want to sell your phone, and people looking to steal your passwords over unsecured Wi-Fi networks. But they won’t retain the privacy of your smartphone activity. They won’t guard you against unwanted monitoring from hackers, companies, and governments. To do that, you’re going to need more attendance over concerns for your privacy . Here are some more steps to consider.

1. Text Using an Encrypted Messaging App

SMS messages are great because they work on any phone. It doesn’t matter what operating system you use, which carrier you’re on, or whether your phone is even smart.
One downside is that all of the information contained within these messages is unencrypted. Carriers and governments can see when you've sent a message, to whom, and what you said.

To guard your personal conversations against prying eyes, you should download an encrypted messaging app. There are two strategies here. Apps such as Signal and Telegram which only work over a data connection, but they offer the maximum privacy.

If you want the flexibility that comes from using SMS, try downloading Silence. The app can’t encrypt the metadata, which shows when you sent a message and who you were talking to, but it does protect what you've said.

Must Read: Facebook Records Your Payment Details - Find out How.

2. Make Private Calls With a Temporary Number

There’s nothing private about your phone number. Those ten digits are directly connected to your identity. For that reason, you have to be careful who you provide your number to.

There are lots of reasons to use a temporary number that have nothing to do with corporate or government inspection. Maybe you’re going out on dates with people you’ve met online. Possibly your phone usage is being observed by an offensive parent or partner. Avoiding your real number can be a matter of security.

What do you do? Install an app! Burner is an option with a name that’s as frank as they come.

Burner presents a real phone number (not VoIP) with a local area code. The downside — it only works in the U.S. and Canada. Fortunately, there are other apps to pick from.

  1. Hushed
  2. CoverMe
  3. Line2
  4. Sideline

3. Use an Offline Navigation App

Google Maps is free, and it’s reliable enough for most people, to be the navigation app. I imagine the story isn’t that different for you, especially if you live in the India.

The service doesn’t require money to use, but there’s a cost. Google wants information, and Maps is a treasure. It knows where we live, how far it is to our friends’ houses, and the places we’ve been.

Google Maps isn’t alone here. Waze (owned by Google), HERE WeGo, MapQuest, and other online navigation aids all log trip information, even if that data isn’t always identifiable.

If you don’t want anyone to know where you ride, download an app that relies on offline maps. I rely on OsmAnd, an open source solution. Sygic is one of the most popular commercial options. HERE WeGo defaults to online use, but it lets you save locations to access offline.

2. Download — Sygic for Android (Free)

4. Use DuckDuckGo Instead of Google

Google holds the record for every term you type into the search box. Don’t believe me? Take a look at your account settings and Google will show you. 

Other search engines do this too. Bing and Yahoo want this data, even if they aren’t as adept at personalizing the results as well as the Big G.

Your searches tell a lot about you. Someone with this information can get a fair idea of your concerns and what you think about daily. They can determine your political choices, your income, where you live, and other information that you would probably prefer someone to ask you for directly.

Fortunately, an alternative engine has popped up, and it promises to value your privacy. DuckDuckGo may not have the name recognition or the resources of the race, but there are reasons to prefer it over Google.

5. Safeguard Your Passwords

Passwords work as the watchmen to our online homes. Good practice prescribes that you use a freakish password for every account. Which can be challenging, that is why we’ve included various techniques for creating strong passwords.
No matter how you use it, a virtual keyboard isn’t the best way to input a long series of characters. Luckily, there are apps that bypass this issue; they’re called password managers. Some store your passwords on your phone while others hold them online.

Or you can download one of the numerous password generators that don’t leave a record of your credentials that someone could possibly get their hands on.

6. Be Cautious With Your Wallpaper

Have you ever noticed someone using a picture of their significant other or kids as their phone wallpaper?

Of course, you have! You’re apparently doing it right now. I’m not concluding you, but you should be cognizant of what you’re doing. Anyone who gets hold of your phone has clearly obtained insight into your personal life, even if they never bypass your lock screen. A picture of your spouse alone isn’t completely revealing. That could be a picture of a friend or a selfie. But a family portrait showing the two of you with your kids is pretty self-explanatory.

7. Disable Location on Social Networks

Were you amazed when your last status update on Facebook or Twitter revealed your location to the world? These apps request your permission to broadcast your location, but they don’t always make it clear. You could be transmitting your regular location without even recognizing it.

Social networks make this easy to disable, so make sure that you do. While you’re using it, make sure you aren’t making any of these mistakes either.

8. Avoid App Stores

Google Play is the simplest way to get software onto most Android phones, which isn't pretty secure. Someone is creating a record of every app you’ve ever installed. If you buy music, books, or movies — there’s a record of that too.
You may not bother Google having that information today. Or you may currently trust it in the hands of Amazon, which offers a competing marketplace. But that may change in the future if either decides to utilize that data. Either way, the existence of that record is information that could be accessed by hackers in the case of a breach, and there are plenty of other companies or individuals that would pay to get access to that data some day.

There's No Guarantee for your Privacy.

Smartphones are naturally insecure. The act of connecting to cell towers gives away your location to someone. Unless you’re willing to commit to only using burner phones, don’t hold any expectations of being a ghost.
That being said, I’d say it’s still worth decreasing how much information you draw out over the web. You don’t know how that data will be used or who might gain access someday. In the new marketplace, many firms are more anxious to accept payment from you in the form of information rather than cash.

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