Galaxy Nexus Android 4.2.1 security hints and tips

Google_android_logoThere are still quite a few people who are yet to experience Android Jelly Bean 4.2, which I can tell those readers it is a major improvement on Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0. In fact I prefer version 4.2 to iOS 6.0.1 for speed and feel. As quickly as Android 4.2 was released to my trusty Galaxy Nexus, Google then launched a minor patch for Android 4.2 Jelly Bean last month. For my techie readers, Android 4.2.1, also known as JPO40D, is 1.1MB in size. Android 4.2 is packed full of new features, but it’s the security and privacy features that are relevant to this blog.

How to access security features on the Galaxy Nexus running Android 4.2.1

  • Access > Pull down the notification bar from the top of screen and TAP > Person icon (top right)
  • TAP > Settings and scroll down and TAP > Security

You will now be presented with the following options:

  • Screen lock – you have 6 options – None; Slide; Face Unlock (see bootnote); Pattern; PIN or Password. Consider a Password rather than PIN – 4 digits can be broken rather more quickly than a 6-8 character password
  • Automatically lock – you have 9 options – Immediately; 5/15/30 seconds; and specific range 1-30 minutes. Use the default option – 30 seconds (this is what I use and doesn’t affect battery performance)
  • Power button instantly locks – this is checked by default. Make sure this option remains checked
  • Owner info – this can be left blank or you can leave a message! 🙂
  • Encrypt phone* – you will be asked to enter either a PIN or password. This is the same that you used for Screen lock above. I have an issue in that this function should use a secondary PIN or password, not the same as used for Screen lock. A user should verify using Screen lock then set a new PIN or password for encryption. This function allows you to encrypt your accounts, settings, downloaded apps and their data, media and other files
  • Make passwords visible – when you type in passwords your Android phone will briefly display the character before hiding it
  • Device Administrators – This function disables the “Force stop” and “uninstall” features of an app. You can disable device admin (as by default you are an admin) which would then allow you to uninstall the app. Not all apps use device admin. Check out How to Disable Android app Device Admin rights
  • Unknown sources – Remember, NEVER uncheck this feature as this will leave you exposed to non-Play Store apps which might be malicious
  • Verify apps – this is Google’s answer to anti-virus protection – well not quite. This disallows or warns users before installation of potentially malicious Play Store and 3rd-party market apps. This option is checked by default. Note: Recent research from a researcher we know well suggested ‘Verify apps’ only detected 15% of known malware. Given this research, it’s even more important you also use a mobile security solution to protect your Android device

* You can encrypt your email accounts, settings, downloaded apps and their data, media and other files.

Finally, the “Lock screen widgets” function is also a new feature of Android Jelly Bean versions 4.2/4.2.1 but you can for example view emails and calendar preview widgets on the lock screen without actually unlocking the device (if we swipe left from screen lock. Worse still you can also delete widgets without actually unlocking the device! Some major privacy concerns here. If you value your privacy I suggest you don’t use these widgets right now.

Safe surfing folks!

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2 Responses to Galaxy Nexus Android 4.2.1 security hints and tips

  1. Kieren says:

    Unknown sources should be unchecked otherwise malicious apps will install automatically.

    This is what it says

    UNKNOWN SOURCES: Allow installation of apps from unknown sources.

    Now if you check this, malicious apps will install automatically and if you uncheck this it will not install malicious apps. So It’s best to leave this unchecked.

    • Julian says:

      [email protected]# Good practice. Most users don’t know where UNKNOWN SOURCES can be found, let alone what it does – which is no bad thing!

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