So you just bought your latest shiny brand spanking new smartphone, or perhaps you just bought 100 new Android phones for your business to run a vital part of your business process or maybe even you just rolled out an app strategy across all of your sales staff Android phones that could even tally up to 1000’s of users. But now you’re scared! Scared because you keep hearing all these stories about data being stolen and sent to advertising authorities or worse still China!
The best case is that your personal data gets lifted and used so that more adverts can be thrown into your face as you try to live your life, however the worst case lies in using Android phones for your business where you could see a tonne of sensitive and even business critical data being sent all over the place without your knowledge.
So just how the heck do you stop your data being shared like this. We give you a few of our top tips below:
Everyone is doing it!
The first point to make here is that in the consumer phone market, everyone is doing this. You buy an Android, Apple or Microsoft phone and they’re tracking you, baby! Go look at the terms for yourself and you’ll see that as soon as you sign up, that little shiny phone is sending everything from your location to your web and app browsing habits right back to these 3 giants of the tech industry. Add to this that the vendors of the phone are also doing the same thing, so think you’re safer because you have a Samsung, Sony or LG phone…then think again. All of these companies have been caught listening in to us in some way, whether it’s via their TV sets or other means so you can pretty much assume they’re doing the same with your phone!
Better the devil you know
Android it turns out is the best OS to overcome this. It’s the only phone you can use unconnected, in this case to the Google Play store and you can also manually turn off tracking history too as it’s built into the OS itself. Apple tracks you all the time whether you like it or not and I doubt any vendors have differing habits.
Don’t buy cheap!
Cheap Android phones might seem like a bargain these days but weren’t you told as a child that if it’s too good to be true then it probably is? How the heck do you think anyone makes money out of a £150 Android phone? Do you really think they can fabricate a complex piece of electronics, packed with technology for under this sort of price? No, your data my friend is what they’re after.
It has now been proven that many cheaper Chinese brands have been working with the Chinese government themselves by installing all kinds of hidden apps into their OS’s. You can’t see these apps, you can’t feel them, but they’re there and they have got all the permissions they need to steal data and send it elsewhere!
Beware of Apps
When you download an app, always check out the permissions it needs and ask yourself if these permissions are really needed? Now, a communications or chat app that needs access top your contacts is probably legit, it might also be legit to need camera or file permissions if it can share files and photos for you, but why does it need to know your location? Why perhaps does it need access to your SD card or email?
Just be careful of what permissions they ask for. In Android, you can now set your phone up so you can revoke all or just 1 permission that’s being granted. Try it and run the app and see what it says.
Stay in the Play or App stores
Android is open source and so the beauty of that is that you can create the “apk” installable app files manually and distribute them without the need for the Google Play store. This is a boon for businesses who don’t want to put their in-house built, free apps on the play store but it also means that it’s tempting to go to one of the many open, free APK websites to download other apps too. A lot of data fraud happens this way with apps that you think are the original or trusted app, actually having been tweaked so that they can spy on you.
Ask the right questions
If a business then ask the right questions. You know it’s really time to wake up guys out of the slumber where we’re all dreaming of a world where everyone is so nice and trustworthy! The truth is many of them are not. Ask what their policies are on privacy, ask them flatly what data gets sent back from their phones and also ask what steps they have taken to remove a rogue app or OS misdemeanours!
Many Android phones especially these days are resold and rebranded and they’res nothing wrong with that. But some are just buying and selling on with no technical intervention and some are doing their best to protect you and your business. See the comment on cheap above!
So these are a few of our tips. If you want to know more then check out the rest of this blog or pop on over to our knowledge articles on our website to learn a little more.