Best Android apps to defend your privacy and security

Ruth C. | November 18, 2020

Smartphones deserve our gratitude for yielding dramatic benefits to the digital society. Androids specifically are the market leaders, supplying incredible yet affordable mobility. Nonetheless, popularity comes at a cost. Android users seem stuck in a limbo of reading on yet another threat. The issue escalates when we acknowledge the alarming degree of tracking and unsecured online environments. Android devices need your assistance in making them worthy assistants to mundane tasks. Dozens of security apps are here to lend a hand, but not all are strong candidates. We shall observe the top choices for any user craving more protection and privacy.

Android stability and potential threat review

Android is a fragile ecosystem. Recurring vulnerabilities and human error are the main factors, requiring vigilance from both users and developers. According to statistics, over 40% of Androids run on outdated OS versions, leaving glaring gaps in their security. In addition to lax attitudes towards patches, people frequently fall into hackers’ traps. Be it a malicious application or a deceitful email: all can severely contribute to Android becoming compromised.

While Google Play Store attempts to prevail on their security standards, sneaky submissions continue to override this goal. One recent incident reported malware masquerading as games on the store. The story emphasizes that six suspects remain on Google’s official app source. Hence, the question remains: how many malicious apps continue to hide in plain sight?

Users need to be careful when selecting new applications. Having a listing in Google Play Store does not necessarily reflect legitimacy. Do not be afraid to take a detective’s role and examine apps’ owners or prominent reviews online. Lastly, inspect permissions that programs require and be critical of their relevance to the actual app.

Account protection and passwords

There are some things that you need to keep private. Accounts and apps containing confidential data should be at the top of your list.

  • LastPass. This handy password vault is a freemium service. However, the free version performs splendidly and matches some of the paid competitors’ offers. For instance, it crafts an encrypted password box, completes auto-filling, and generates combinations on demand. If these features satisfy your password desires, give it a try. Whenever you want, you can upgrade to premium to expand LastPass’ capabilities or stick to the free version.

  • Authy. It is a universal app, providing two-factor authentication for a range of accounts. Authy is definitely an honorable mention, as its service is free yet of impeccable quality. Secure all your accounts with limited tokens, prevent account lockout, and sync the app across all platforms.

  • Smart AppLock. Some of your Android applications require more attention. Smart AppLock lets you password-protect programs and prevents people from opening them. It is especially useful if someone gets physical access to your smartphone and decides to snoop. Without the correct combination, the intrusive party will meet a barrier every time one attempts to open applications.

App security checks and tricks

Elevating your Android security and managing permissions can be a hassle, especially since people operate with dozens of apps. These tools simplify this process, liberating you from inspecting applications manually.

  • Bouncer. An alarming number of applications disregard permission boundaries and require too much power. In many cases, even legitimate apps can take advantage of circumstances and exploit granted privileges. Bouncer deals with questionable permissions and lets you automatically revoke them. Users have the option to provide temporary permissions that expire after a specific period. The only downside is that Bounce is a paid service, but its price is very minimal.

  • GlassWire. It is a freemium option that analyzes the way other apps behave. It informs users when applications overuse data. GlassWire also performs other tasks, such as reviewing connections to your Wi-Fi and showing discreet alerts. Perhaps its biggest strength is the mix of firewall, network monitoring, and visualization opportunities.

  • Sophos. This list would not be complete without an antivirus program. Sophos scans installed apps for potential malware. Additionally, it offers various other perks, such as link checker, web filtering, and security recommendations. It is also completely free and does not overuse your battery.

Messaging protection

You might prefer Facebook Messenger for all your communications. However, the market supplies more privacy-oriented options, and it would be wasteful not to explore them.

  • WhatsApp. It is one of the best end-to-end encrypted ecosystems for communication. Despite speculations about its relation to Facebook, WhatsApp maintains its strong position in the market. However, frequently-detected vulnerabilities might make you feel uncomfortable. Luckily, there are other options to explore.

  • Signal. This messaging tool is one of the most private and secure apps around. Many reputable role models also support this verdict, with the Twitter founder recognizing Signal’s unique nature. From a security standpoint, Signal is open-source, meaning anyone can test its limits and resistance. One downside is that Signal only encrypts communications between its users. Hence, you might need to convince your inner-circle to make the change as well.

  • Telegram. While not as proudly renowned as a privacy-first app, Telegram stands out as well. The main issue is that the tool does turn on end-to-end encryption by default. Luckily, you can make the switch without much effort. Furthermore, Telegram supports disappearing messages and chat backups to make the experience even more secure.

Overall security and privacy boosts

The digital landscape and pioneers in privacy-first technology never give up the fight. From reducing digital footprints to escaping repetitive ad loops, you have the right to make a change. And with these apps, the change comes easy.

  • Brave. It is an open-source Chromium browser, a breath of fresh air in the industry. Brave is highly private and offers the Chromium compatibility that long-term Chrome users crave. If you are no longer comfortable with the amount of information Google has on you, Brave is a reliable option. You won’t lose access to your preferred browser extensions and might even tweak performance.

  • Firefox Focus. This browser starts sessions without logging history, saving cookies or passwords. Additionally, it blocks trackers and ads by default. When you finish visiting a website, you can click on the trash can icon to leave no apparent digital traces.

  • DuckDuckGo. It is one of the pioneers specializing in private browsing. This browser, accompanied by its original search engine, is the ultimate shift from traditional programs. If you want to escape the search engine monopoly, DuckDuckGo should become your partner. It won’t create user profiles according to behavioral patterns, which is a huge advantage.

  • Solid Explorer File Manager. This Android app gives you a chance to encrypt documents and files. You can protect data in local storage and cloud storage services alike. Users follow a simple routine: they find files within the app and choose “Encrypt” from the menu. It is a great little invention for securing confidential information on your smartphone.

  • Atlas VPN. When in doubt, you should always secure your internet connection. Atlas VPN is incredibly beginner-friendly, with an intuitive interface that never fails to impress. Your Android needs a backup when you bounce between different domains and Wi-Fi networks. So, encrypt all your traffic and never look back: your browsing will transform into an anonymous and private affair.

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