Ten Ways to Make Your Phone Secure - The Part of Tens - Samsung Galaxy S7 For Dummies (2016)

Samsung Galaxy S7 For Dummies (2016)

Part VI. The Part of Tens

Chapter 17. Ten Ways to Make Your Phone Secure


Keeping your phone in one piece

Avoiding losing your phone in the first place

Protecting yourself if you do lose your phone

Back in the “old” days, it sure was frustrating to have your regular-feature phone lost or stolen. You would lose all your contacts, call history, and texts. Even if you backed up all your contacts, you would have to reenter them in your new phone. What a hassle.

warning The good news is that your smartphone saves all your contacts on your email accounts. The bad news is that, unless you take some steps outlined in this chapter, evildoers could conceivably drain your bank account, get you fired, or even have you arrested.

Do I have your attention? Think of what would happen if someone were to get access to your PC at home or at work. He or she could wreak havoc on your life.

A malevolent prankster could send an email from your work email address under your name. It could be a rude note to the head of your company. It could give phony information about a supposedly imminent financial collapse of your company to the local newspaper. It could be a threat to the U.S. president, generating a visit from the Secret Service.

Here’s the deal: If you have done anything with your smartphone as described in this book past Chapter 3, I expect you’ll want to take steps to protect your smartphone. This is the burden of having a well-connected device. Fortunately, most of the steps are simple and straightforward.

Use a Good Case and Screen Cover

The Samsung Galaxy S7 is sleek and beautiful. The Galaxy S7 Edge has a really cool design that draws attention from people walking by. Plus, the front is made of Gorilla Glass from Corning. This stuff is super-durable and scratch-resistant.

So why am I telling you to cover this all up? It’s like buying a fancy dress for a prom or wedding and wearing a coat all night. Yup. It’s necessary for safe mobile computing.

warning Speaking from personal experience, dropping a Galaxy phone on concrete can break the glass and some of the innards. This can happen if you simply keep your phone in a pocket.

There are lots of choices for cases. The most popular are made of silicone, plastic, or leather. There are different styles that meet your needs from many manufacturers. Otterbox is a brand that makes a series of cases for multiple levels of protection. The Defender Series for the Galaxy S7, its highest level of protection, is seen in black in Figure 17-1. You can get other levels of protection with more colors if you prefer.


FIGURE 17-1: Otterbox cases for the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge.

tip I am told by the cooler members of my clan that wearing the belt clip is the modern equivalent of wearing a pocket protector.

The House of Marley offers an attractive and effective solution, as seen in Figure 17-2.


FIGURE 17-2: House of Marley cases for the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge.

You don’t just use a good case so that you can hand off a clean used phone to the next lucky owner. A case makes it a little less likely that you will lose your phone. Your Galaxy S7 in its naked form is shiny glass and metal, which are slippery. Cases tend to have a higher coefficient of friction and prevent your phone from slipping out of your pocket when you take a ride in an Uber car.

More significantly, a case protects your phone against damage. If your phone is damaged, you have to mail it or bring it to a repair shop. The problem is that many people who bring their phones in for repair don’t wipe the personal information off their devices. You really hope that the repair shop can pop off the broken piece, pop on a new one, and send you on your way. It’s rarely that easy. Typically, you need to leave your phone in the hands of strangers for some period of time. For the duration of the repair, said strangers have access to the information on your phone.

The good news is that most workers who repair phones are professional and will probably ignore any information from the phone before they start fixing it.

However, are you sure that you want to trust the professionalism of a stranger? Also, do you really want the hassle of getting a new phone? Probably not, so invest in a good case and screen cover. There are many options for different manufacturers of cases. Be sure to shop around to come up with the ideal combination of protection and style right for you.

Put It on Lock Down

The most basic effort you can take to protect your phone is to put some kind of a screen lock on your phone. If you’re connected to a corporate network, the company may have a policy that specifies what you must do to access your corporate network. Otherwise, you have six choices, listed here in increasing degrees of security:

· Unlock with a simple swipe across the screen

· Unlock with a pattern that you swipe on the screen

· Unlock with a PIN

· Unlock with a password

· Unlock with your fingerprint

· Encrypt the data on your SD card

You can select any of the first five of these options in the Lock Screen option in Settings. Encrypting everything on your phone (the sixth listed option) has some serious implications, so I describe it in more detail later in the chapter, in the “Encrypt Your SD Card” section.

If you want to choose one of the first five options, here’s what you do:

1. Tap the Settings icon.

This should be old hat by now.

2. Tap the Lock Screen and Security link.

This brings up the options seen in Figure 17-3. You set some of the options mentioned in the preceding list and others when you follow the next instruction. This can be a little confusing, but bear with me while I explain your options and tell you where to go.

3. Tap the Screen Lock Type link.

This brings up the options seen in Figure 17-4. Each option prompts you through what it needs before establishing your security selection.


FIGURE 17-3: The Lock Screen and Security options.


FIGURE 17-4: The Screen Lock options.

tip For reasons that sort of make sense, your phone uses some terminology that can be confusing. To clarify, the term Screen Lock is an option you can select to prevent unauthorized users from getting into your phone. The term Lock Screen is short for the action of locking your screen or enabling the Screen Lock option.

Preparing for your Screen Lock option

Regardless of what screen lock you choose, I recommend that you have ready the following choices at hand:

· An unlock pattern


· A password

· Your fingerprint

To clarify definitions, a PIN is a series of numbers. In this case, the PIN is four digits. A password is a series of numbers, upper- and lowercase letters, and sometimes special characters, and is typically longer than four characters. A PIN is pretty secure, but a password is usually more secure. Have them both ready, but decide which one you would prefer to use.

Selecting among the Screen Lock options

The first option, unlocking your phone with a swipe, fools exactly no one and doesn’t slow anyone down. Rather than just having the Home screen appear, your phone tells you to swipe your finger on the screen to get to the Home screen. This is about as secure as waving at intruders and tossing them your phone, wallet, and keys. Let’s keep going.

I recommend drawing out a pattern as the minimum screen-lock option. This is quick and easy. Tap the Pattern option on the screen seen in Figure 17-5 to get started. The phone asks you to enter your pattern and then asks you to enter it again. It then asks you to enter a PIN in case you forget your pattern.


FIGURE 17-5: The unlock patterns: the blank screen and a sample pattern.

The unlock pattern is a design that you draw with your finger on a nine-dot screen, as shown in Figure 17-5.

The image on the right in Figure 17-5 happens to include all nine dots. You do not need to use all the dots. The minimum number of dots you must touch is four. The upper limit is nine because you can touch each dot only once. As long as you can remember your pattern, feel free to be creative.

tip Be sure to use a PIN you can remember a long time from now. You need this PIN only if you forget your pattern. That is a very rare situation for most people.

The next two options on the Screen Lock screen, PIN and Password, are more secure, but only as long as you avoid the obvious choices. If you insist upon using the PIN “0000” or “1111” or the word “password” as your password, don’t waste your time. It’s standard operating procedure within the typical den of thieves to try these sequences first. That’s because so many people use these obvious choices.

warning If, someday, you forget your pattern, your PIN, or your password, the only option is to do a complete reset of your phone back to original factory settings. In such a case, all your texts and stored files will be lost. Try to avoid this fate: Remember your pattern, PIN, or password.

Entering your fingerprint

Using your fingerprint to unlock your phone is very convenient. Once you have entered your fingerprint, you can set it up so that you simply put your finger on the Home button, and your phone will open up to your home page.

There are a few hoops you need to make this happen. You need to give your phone enough views of the finger you will use, which can be whichever finger you like, so that it is sure that it is you. It also wants to make sure that you, and only you, have stored a fingerprint. Your phone can store multiple fingers, and you do not want to have any shenanigans going on here, like someone slipping in her fingerprint on to your phone. To prevent this from happening, you need to select a security option — again a pattern, PIN, or password — to access the fingerprint screen.

If you want to access your phone using a fingerprint, here’s what you do:

1. Tap on the Fingerprints link in the Screen Lock Type page (see Figure 17-4).

This will bring up the image seen in Figure 17-6.

2. Enter your security selection for fingerprints.

This can be the same pattern, PIN, or password you used for the Home screen. Or not. The point is that this is to provide security to changing your fingerprint. When you have done this, the screen seen on the left of Figure 17-7 appears.

3. Tap the Add Fingerprint option.

The leftmost screen in Figure 17-8 appears.

4. Press and hold lightly the Home button repeatedly.

Keep tapping the Home button until you reach 100 percent. The gray circle in the middle of Figure 17-8 will eventually turn completely blue, and then you get a congratulations screen on the right letting you know that you are at 100 percent.

Enjoy this keen sense of accomplishment, because in a moment, you will be returned to a screen like the one shown in Figure 17-9. It is similar to Figure 17-6, but now has one stored fingerprint.

5. Switch the Fingerprint unlock switch to the On position.


FIGURE 17-6: The Fingerprint Security Options screen.


FIGURE 17-7: The Fingerprints screen.


FIGURE 17-8: The Fingerprints registration screens.


FIGURE 17-9: The Fingerprints screen with one stored fingerprint.

Your fingerprint is now in memory and ready to let you get to your home page with a quick swipe. Give it a try. It is very slick!

Encrypt Your SD Card

This is the last Screen Lock option I list earlier in this section for protecting your device. It’s an exceptionally secure option: It scrambles every file on your microSD card into gibberish, which it rapidly descrambles when you need the information. This sounds great; in practice, however, there are some important considerations to think about.

First, all this scrambling and descrambling takes processing power away from other things, such as running the apps. The loss is hardly noticeable in most cases — your phone is awash in processing power — but you never know when it may come back to bite you.

warning After you encrypt your SD card, you can never switch it back to non-encrypted. With the Screen Lock options, you can use a PIN for a while, and then switch back to the pattern if you want, and live dangerously with the swipe option until you go to a password. Not so with the encryption option. You will never, ever, ever, ever get it back together.

If you encrypt your SD card and then forget your password, your SD card is toast. You won’t be able to use these files ever again. Likewise, if you ever need to reset your phone to factory default settings, it won’t remember how to talk to this SD card. Once again, toast is the word to describe the SD card and the data on it.

If you’re sure that encryption is for you, here are the steps:

1. From the Lock Screen and Security screen (refer to Figure 17-3), tap the Other Security Settings link.

2. Tap the Encrypt SD Card link.

Doing so brings up the warning screen, as shown in Figure 17-10.

As the screen says, have your battery nicely charged, say, at 80 percent or higher, and an hour set aside when you don’t need to use your phone.

3. Tap the Encrypt SD Card option.

And off it goes … .


FIGURE 17-10: The encryption warning screen.

As Secure as Fort Knox with Knox

It doesn’t matter whether you bought the phone at a retail store or your company supplied it to you. The fact of the matter is that company data that resides on your phone belongs to your employer. You probably signed a document (now sitting in your HR file) that states that you agree with this arrangement.

This policy is necessary for the company because it has a financial and legal obligation to protect company data, particularly if it pertains to individual customers. Like it or not, this obligation trumps your sense of privacy over the phone you bought and (still) pay for. If this really gets under your skin, you can always carry two smartphones: one for business and one for personal use. This solves the problem, but it’s a hassle.

However, there is a better way. Samsung has a highly skilled group that has developed a secure system called Knox. Knox logically divides your phone into two modes: one for business use and the other for your personal use. You tap an icon, and you’re in business mode. You tap another icon, and you’re in personal mode. Switching between the two is instant, and Knox keeps the information from each mode separate.

tip This is a capability that is only of interest to you if your employer offers support for the service.

While this sounds very cool, the Galaxy S7 does not have this capability at launch. The Samsung Knox website at www.samsung.com/us/business/short-form/galaxy-s7 assures us that it will be available at some point. In the meantime, download and read the brochure “Samsung KNOX For Dummies” to whet your appetite.

When it is available, Knox comes with three capabilities for the employer:

· Security for the Android OS

· Limitations on the applications that access the business side of your phone

· Remote mobile-device management

This arrangement means that your employer can remotely control the business apps and potentially wipe the data on the business side at its discretion — but it has nothing to do with your personal information. The personal side remains your responsibility.

tip You may want to suggest to your company’s IT department that it look into supporting Knox. Doing so can take a burden off your back.

Create a Private Mode

If you follow these guidelines, you are pretty safe from outside threats. Your phone, however, is not always solely in your possession. For example, parents, guardians, and grandparents may let younger kids entertain themselves with their phone. Or, you may be the envy of all the other folks at the country club with your new Galaxy S7, and they may want to take a look at it because they’re considering buying one for themselves. As the standard-bearer of mobile fashion among your peers, you are only too proud to let them examine your phone.

Let’s say, however, that they start looking at your Gallery. This may be a problem.

You may have personal images from that “special someone” in your life. You may have images from a recent bachelor/bachelorette party. You may have pictures from a different phase of your life.

It is safe to say that almost all of us have certain images or files that we want on our phone but would just as soon not have them shared. Private mode is the answer for you.

Here is how it works logically. First, you turn private mode on. You use a pattern, PIN, or password (again, it is up to you if you use the same or different pattern, PIN, or password). Then you select which images and files you want to be private.

When private mode is on, you can see these files and that they are marked private. When private mode is off, these files do not show up. It is as if they never existed in the first place.

When you turn private mode back on, which involves using your pattern, PIN, or password, it is all there, and works as good as new. The following steps walk you through this process.

1. Tap the Settings icon.

2. Tap the Lock Privacy and emergency link.

This brings up the options seen in Figure 17-11.

3. Tap the Private mode link.

This brings up the options seen in Figure 17-12. Each option prompts you through what it needs before establishing your security selection.

4. Tap the toggle to on

5. Enter your pattern, PIN, or password selection.

Again, old hat. You are now in private mode. You can now go find the image or file you want to make private.

6. Open the Gallery and find that “special” image you want to keep for you, but not for prying eyes.

This could also be any document you access with the My files app. For the purposes here, I have taken one of those notorious “silly kid” pictures that parents have used to generate copious amounts of embarrassment among their children since soon after Joseph Nicéphore Niépce invented photography in the 19th century.

7. While in Private mode, tap on the image to select it and again on the image to bring up the More link.

This brings up the image and a pop-up as seen in Figure 17-13.

8. Tap the Move to Private in the pop-up menu.

Figure 17-14 shows the Gallery in two modes. The first is with privacy mode on. The image in question has a privacy marker.

The second one is with privacy mode off.


FIGURE 17-11: The Privacy and emergency options.


FIGURE 17-12: The Private mode options.


FIGURE 17-13: The “special” picture with a pop-up menu.


FIGURE 17-14: The Gallery with Private mode On and Off.

tip To reduce the likelihood that you get caught by forgetting to turn privacy mode off, I suggest you use the Auto off option seen in Figure 17-12. Selecting this option will automatically turn privacy mode to off when you turn off your phone. You need to go to the trouble of turning privacy mode on, but it reduces the chances that you will forget.

Be Careful with Bluetooth

In Chapter 3, I looked at syncing your phone with Bluetooth devices. I did not mention the potential for security risk at that point. I do it now.

Some people are concerned that people with a radio scanner can listen in on their voice calls. This was possible, but not easy, in the early days of mobile phone use. Your Galaxy S7 can use only digital systems, so picking your conversation out of the air is practically impossible.

Some people are concerned that a radio scanner and a computer can pick up your data connection. It’s not that simple. Maybe the NSA could get some of your data that way using complicated supercomputing algorithms, but it’s much easier for thieves and pranksters to use wired communications to access the accounts of the folks who use “0000” as their PIN and “password” or “password1” as their password.

Perhaps the greatest vulnerability your phone faces is called bluejacking, which involves using some simple tricks to gain access to your phone via Bluetooth.

Do a test: The next time you’re in a public place, such as a coffee shop, a restaurant, or a train station, turn on Bluetooth. Tap the button that makes you visible to all Bluetooth devices and then tap Scan. While your Bluetooth device is visible, you’ll see all the other Bluetooth devices in your vicinity. You’ll probably find lots of them. If not, try this at an airport. Wow!

If you were trying to pair with another Bluetooth device, you’d be prompted to see whether you’re willing to accept connection to that device. In this case, you are not.

However, a hacker will see that you are open for pairing and take this opportunity to use the PIN 0000 to make a connection. When you’re actively pairing, your Bluetooth device won’t accept an unknown device’s offer to pair. But if your device is both unpaired and visible, hackers can fool your Bluetooth device and force a connection.

After a connection is established, all your information is available to the hackers to use as they will. Here are the steps to protect yourself:

· Don’t pair your phone to another Bluetooth device in a public place. Believe it or not, crooks go to public places to look for phones in pairing mode. When they pair with a phone, they look for interesting data to steal. It would be nice if these people had more productive hobbies, like Parkour or searching for Bigfoot. However, as long as these folks are out there, it is safer to pair your Bluetooth device in a not-so-public place.

· Make sure that you know the name of the device with which you want to pair. You should pair only with that device. Decline if you are not sure or if other Bluetooth devices offer to connect.

· Shorten the default time-out setting. The default is that you will be visible for two minutes. However, you can go into the menu settings and change the option for Visible Time-out to whatever you want. Make this time shorter than two minutes. Don’t set it to Never Time Out. This is like leaving the windows open and the keys in the ignition on your Cadillac Escalade. A shorter time of visibility means that you have to be vigilant for less time.

· From time to time, check the names of the devices that are paired to your device. If you don’t recognize the name of a device, click the Settings icon to the right of the unfamiliar name and unpair it. Some damage may have been done by the intruder, but with any luck, you’ve nipped it in the bud.

Here’s an important point: When handled properly, Bluetooth is as secure as can be. However, a few mistakes can open you up to human vermin with more technical knowledge than decency. Don’t make those mistakes, and you can safely enjoy this capability, knowing that all the data on your phone is safe.

Protect Against Malware

One of the main reasons application developers write apps for Android is that Google doesn’t have an onerous preapproval process for a new app to be placed in the Play Store. This is unlike the Apple App Store or Microsoft Windows Phone Store, where each derivation of an app must be validated.

Many developers prefer to avoid bureaucracy. At least in theory, this attracts more developers to do more stuff for Android phones.

However, this approach does expose users like you and me to the potential for malware that can, inadvertently or intentionally, do things that are not advertised. Some of these “things” may be minor annoyances, or they could really mess up your phone (for openers).

Market forces, in the form of negative feedback, are present to kill apps that are badly written or are meant to steal your private data. However, this informal safeguard works only after some poor soul has experienced problems — such as theft of personal information — and reported it.

Rather than simply avoiding new apps, you can download apps designed to protect the information on your phone. These are available from many of the firms that make antivirus software for your PC. Importantly, many of these antivirus applications are free. If you want a nicer interface and some enhanced features, you can pay a few dollars, but it isn’t necessary.

Examples include NG Mobile Security and Antivirus, Lookout Security and Antivirus, Kaspersky Mobile Security, and Norton Security Antivirus. If you have inadvertently downloaded an app that includes malicious software, these apps will stop that app.

Don't Download Apps from Just Anywhere

Another way to avoid malware is to download mobile software only from trustworthy websites. This book has focused exclusively on the Google Play Store. You can download Android apps for your phone from a number of other reputable sites, including Amazon Appstore and GetJar.

Keep in mind that these stores are always on the lookout to withdraw applications that include malicious software. Google uses an internally developed solution it calls Bouncer to check for malicious software and remove it from the Play Store. Other mobile software distribution companies have their own approaches to addressing this problem. The problem is that policing malicious software is a hit-or-miss proposition.

As a rule, you should hesitate to download an Android application unless you know where it has been. You are safest if you restrict your app shopping to reputable companies. Be very skeptical of any other source of an Android application.

Rescue Your Phone When It Gets Lost

Other options allow you to be more proactive than waiting for a Good Samaritan to reach out to your home phone or email if you lose your phone.

There are apps that help you find your phone. Here are a few several “lost it” scenarios and some possible solutions for your quandary:

· You know that you lost your phone somewhere in your house. You would try calling your own number, but you had your phone set to Vibrate Only mode.

· Remote Ring: By sending a text to your phone with the “right” code that you preprogrammed when you set up this service, your phone will ring on its loudest setting, even if you have the ringer set to Vibrate Only.

· tip If you know that your phone is in your house, the accuracy of GPS isn’t savvy enough to tell you whether it’s lost between the seat cushions of your couch or in the pocket of your raincoat. That’s where the Remote Ring feature comes in handy.

· You lost your phone while traveling and have no idea whether you left it in a taxi or at airport security.

· Map Current Location: This feature allows you to track, within the accuracy of the GPS signal, the location of your phone. You need access to the website of the company with which you arranged to provide this service, and it will show you (on a map) the rough location of your phone.

Here is where having an account with Samsung comes in handy. Hopefully, you signed up for a Samsung Account when you first got your phone. If you did, you are signed up for the Find My Mobile at http://findmymobile.samsung.com. Figure 17-15 shows the Find My Mobile PC screen.


FIGURE 17-15: The Samsung Find My Mobile PC screen.

All you need to do is get to a PC and sign in to your Samsung account. You can tell your phone to ring by clicking on Ring my device. You can have the PC bring up a map by clicking Locate my device.

I suggest trying these out before you lose your phone the first time.

Wipe Your Device Clean

As a last-ditch option, you can use Find My Mobile (see preceding section) to remotely disable your device or wipe it clean. Here are some of the possible scenarios:

· You were robbed, and a thief has your phone.

· Remote Lock: After your phone has been taken, this app allows you to create a four-digit PIN that, when sent to your phone from another mobile phone or a web page, locks down your phone. This capability is above and beyond the protection you get from your Screen Lock and prevents further access to applications, phone, and data.

· warning If you know that your phone was stolen — that is, not just lost — do not try to track down the thief yourself. Get the police involved and let them know that you have this service on your phone — and that you know where your phone is.

· You are a very important executive or international spy. You stored important plans on your phone, and you have reason to believe that the “other side” has stolen your phone to acquire your secrets.

· Remote Erase: Also known as Remote Wipe, this option resets the phone to its factory settings, wiping out all the information and settings on your phone.

· tip You can’t add Remote Erase after you’ve lost your phone. You must sign up for your Samsung service beforehand. It’s not possible to remotely enable this capability to your phone. You need to have your phone in hand when you download and install either a lock app or a wipe app.