Your smartphone isn’t really a phone. It’s an expensive pocket computer that has as much (and probably more) personal information on it. And it is the #1 target of malware as well as a top target of thieves. Let’s look at the steps you need to take to keep it safe.

Let’s start by opening Settings and then scrolling down to Lock screen and Security.

lock-screen-security

Your version of Android may not look exactly like this, but you should have similar options.

Up first, there’s screen lock type.

lock-screen-type.jpg

If I select Swipe, I can choose between just swiping open the lock, adding a pattern that you trace on the screen, a numeric PIN, or a password.

lock-screen-type-select.jpg

If you choose, pattern, you’ll trace a pattern on the screen. To open your phone, you’ll need to be able to repeat it exactly. This is actually my least favorite form of security, because I don’t think I could do a pattern the same way twice to save my life.

pattern-lock.jpg

Depending on your phone, you may also have biometric options like facial recognition, fingerprints, or even an iris scan.

swipe.jpg

You’ll need to set these up, but if you have problems remembering passwords or PINS, this can be a great, secure option for your phone.

You can also go to the Google Play Store to download security apps for your device.

Let’s take a look at what’s available. Type security in the search box.

security-search

You’ll see the same names that you find when searching for PC protection. Names like AVG, AVAST and McAfee…

security-options.jpg

Or Kapersky and Norton.

kaspersky.jpg

Some apps like AVG and AVAST are free.

mobile-security-avg

Others like Norton are free to download, but have a fee if you want to unlock all of the features. For example, Norton will run you $29.99 a year for the premium version. But, if you already have a Norton subscription, your tablet may be included under that.

norton-mobile.jpg

These programs will scan your apps and memory cards for malicious content and also automatically scan newly installed apps for issues. They will also screen text message for your phone and many of these programs offer anti-theft measures that help you locate your device if it is stolen. AVG features a camera trap that will automatically take a picture of anyone who incorrectly enters a password into your phone three times.

anti-theft.jpg

Rather that recommend a particular program, I will tell you to read the reviews and see what other users have to say. Each Android device is a little different and an app that works best for one, may not be the very best for another Android device.

If you are happy with your PC security software and that company also makes an Android app, I’d suggest giving it a try unless you see a whole lot of poor user reviews.

But the good news is that most of the well-know apps have great ratings from users. Kapersky, Norton, AVG & AVAST all have 4.5 out of 5 star ratings and McAfee has 4 stars. I’ll also do a little crowdsourcing here and ask readers to comment about which Android security software they’ve had the best experience with and any troubles they’ve encountered as well.