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Tips for keeping your Android device safe

To keep your device as safe and secure as possible, use our suggested Android security features. Get tips to be prepared if your phone goes missing and learn how to stay safe online and when installing apps.

Note: In this guide, you'll see links to Nexus resources and additional information. Not all Android devices have settings in the same place. If you don’t see the exact wording as the instructions, look for something similar or follow the links to your manufacturer's support site to learn about your device's settings.

Protect your device and data

Set a screen lock

Secure your device by setting a screen lock with a PIN, password, or pattern. Each time you turn on your device or wake up the screen, you’ll be asked to unlock your device. Go to Settings > Security > Screen lock.

If your device is running Android 5.0 or higher, you can also choose to have your device automatically unlock when you have it with you using Smart Lock for Android.

Make sure Android Device Manager is on

Be prepared if you ever lose your phone by confirming Android Device Manager is set up on your device. Make sure to sign in with your Google Account and turn on "Remotely locate this device" and "Allow remote lock and erase."

You can also try out the "find my phone" feature so you know how it works in case you need it in the future.

Add your contact info to your lock screen

You can put your contact information (like an email address or phone number you don’t mind sharing) on the lock screen so you can get a missing device back if someone finds it and wants to contact you. Set this up in Settings > Security > Owner info.

Back up your data

Backups make it easier to recover your information and apps if your device is lost, stolen, or damaged. Learn how to back up data such as your photos, Wi-Fi passwords, and music.

Encrypt your device

Encryption helps keep your data safe if you lose your device. Nexus 6 and Nexus 9 devices are encrypted by default. If your Android device is running Jelly Bean (Android 4.1) or higher, you can encrypt the data on your device in Settings > Security > Encrypt phone.

Tip: If you're planning to sell your device, you can encrypt it as an additional precaution before erasing your information from it (also known as doing a factory data reset).

Know what to do if your device goes missing

Use Android Device Manager to locate, remotely lock, or erase your device

Follow the steps to use Android Device Manager to remotely locate, lock, or ring your device. You can also use it to erase the information from your lost device.

Check your Gmail account's security

If you think your Gmail account has been compromised, follow the steps to check your account’s security or recover your account.

Stay safe online & with apps

Download apps from trusted sources

Some apps can affect your device’s security, so only download them from places you trust. We work to make sure that all apps available on Google Play pass stringent policy checks, including checks for potentially harmful behavior.

If you have Google Play installed, you're automatically protected from potentially harmful apps with the Verify Apps feature. It's turned on by default and warns you before you install an application we believe is potentially harmful. It'll also check your device about once a week for potentially harmful apps. If you see a warning from Verify Apps, we recommend not installing that app.

Be aware of risks if you download apps from unknown sources

If you want to download an app from a different source, the Unknown Sources feature on your device allows you to install apps from outside of the Google Play Store. This feature is disabled by default, but you can manage your settings at any time.

Before you install an app from an unknown source, first consider:

  • Is the app from a trusted source? What made you sure it's from a trusted brand?
  • Does it offer a service that could include hidden fees?
  • Is it asking for sensitive information or device permissions you wouldn’t give to a stranger?

If you're unsure about any of these questions, we recommend that you don't install the app. If you do install the app, we recommend disabling Unknown Sources again after you're done.

Turn on 2-step verification for your Google Account

2-step verification protects your account with both a password and a code from your phone. This extra layer of protection protects you in case someone has your password.

Be careful about the ads you click

Although most ads are safe, you can potentially affect your device by touching or opening banners or pop-ups. Beware of anything that claims that your phone is infected or asks for your password or personal information — you could accidentally download unwanted or potentially harmful applications or give someone you don't trust access to your account.

Try Chrome as your browser

Chrome is built with security in mind and has frequent updates intended to keep users safe. If you don’t have Chrome on your mobile device, we recommend you download and install it .

If you suspect that an app is malicious...

If you think you've installed an unsafe app, follow these steps to uninstall it from your device:

  1. Use these instructions to uninstall the app.
  2. Use these steps to make sure that the Verify Apps system is still turned on (it's on by default). Verify Apps will warn you before installation if an application is known to be potentially harmful, and it periodically scans your device for harmful apps, so you won't find yourself in this situation again.

If you're not sure which app is causing the issue, then use safe mode to try to pinpoint it. To access safe mode:

  1. With your device's screen on, press and hold the Power button.
  2. When you see "Power off" on the screen, let go of the power button.
  3. Touch and hold Power off.
  4. When you see the "Reboot to safe mode" box, touch OK.
  5. In safe mode, use your device normally.
  6. If any of the issues you were experiencing has stopped, restart your device to exit safe mode. Then uninstall your recently downloaded apps one by one to pinpoint the problem app.

Safe mode works on most Android devices including Huawei, LG, HTC, Sony, Motorola, and Nexus. For help with other devices, see our manufacturer support page.


Want more tips? See our guide for staying safe and secure online.


Amy is an Android expert and author of this help page. Leave her feedback below about the page.

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