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Privacy settings for smartphones (Android, iOS)

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Main mobile phone options (Android or iPhone) that can be changed to protect privacy

The default settings of any device are configured to give you the best possible user experience right away. Unfortunately in the default settings, the privacy aspect is often ignored: often the items relating to privacy are not exactly the ones most desired and, almost always, some data on the use of the mobile phone or some application are shared more or less explicitly.Talking about privacy for a mobile phone also means talking about data security: in the guide that follows we will show you what are the privacy settings of a smartphone that should be analyzed in detail so as to be able to disable the sharing of some personal data or the collection of experiences of using some functions or some apps.

For the guide, we will show you the options to configure on Android and iOS (iPhone)which is the most popular operating systems in the world.

1) Set up a screen lock with a PIN

Locking the screen prevents other people from accessing and browsing your phone. Although many users choose the unlock path, we advise you to avoid this system: it is easily predictable (just looking at the phone from a distance is enough to guess the path to take).

For maximum protection, we, therefore, recommend that you always set an unlock PINaccompanied by a biometric unlocking system (fingerprint or face): in this way, we will be able to access quickly with the fingerprint or face while strangers will have to enter a PIN to access.

To learn more we can read our guides on how set up the screen lock on Android and how set up the screen lock on iPhone.

2) Disable interest tracking

Interest tracking can annoy users, since this function allows the phone company to provide advertisements within the apps or during the installation of apps (such as on Xiaomi).

To disable interest tracking on Android, just open the app Settingspress on the menu Google press on the menu Ads and turn on the switch next to the item Disable ad personalization.

On Xiaomi phones we have to perform a further step: we open the app Settingslet’s get into the menu Password and security let’s open the menu Privacy and turn off the voice Sign up for the User Experience Program; on the same screen we open the Advertising services menu and turn off the switch Personalized advertising advice.

On the iPhone we can disable interest tracking by taking us on the path Settings -> Privacy -> Apple Advertising and deactivating the switch next to the item Personalized ads.

By following these steps we will not disable advertisements within the app or operating system but we will authorize the phone to show only less relevant advertisements to our tastes and interests (generic advertising).

3) Remotely wipe data from a stolen or lost phone

A smartphone can be lost or stolen at any time and since it contains private data, it would be best to prepare for this eventuality, however, hoping it never happens. All modern operating systems have an internal function to locate the lost mobile phone, and if recovery is impossible, we can too delete all personal data remotely.

To learn more, we invite you to read our guides on methods to trace any phone and how make the stolen phone unusable.

4) Avoid saving passwords in browsers

It is always very convenient to keep the passwords of websites stored directly in the browser, so as to avoid having to type them every time. This convenience comes at a high price if the phone ends up in the wrong hands (perhaps after they have recovered the unlock PIN): all our sites are compromised and it is possible to suffer identity theft or money theft.

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For avoid automatic saving of passwords on modern phones we can follow different procedures based on the operating system and the default browser on them (Google Chrome on Android phones and Safari on iPhones).

On Google Chrome for Android, we can block the automatic saving of passwords by opening the menu with the three dots at the top right, taking us to the menu Settings by pressing on Password and turning off the switches next to the items Save password And Automatic login. If we have saved passwords, they will be displayed at the bottom of this screen: we proceed with their cancellation, so as to avoid any type of data theft.

On Safari for iPhone we can block the automatic saving of passwords by taking us on the path Settings -> Password; after passing the security check we open the menu Automatic password entry and turn off the switch next to the item Automatic password entry.

We recommend that you use the service as a replacement password management system Bitwarden whose app is available for free for Android and for iPhone (as well as for PC, Mac, and all major computer browsers) and allows you to keep passwords in a secure and encrypted archive, accessible only with your fingerprint or with a password (completely different from the phone unlock PIN). Passwords saved on Bitwarden are available for auto-complete on any site we access, with any browser used.

To learn more we can read our guides on how to store passwords and logins and which programs use to save passwords.

5) Other useful privacy tips

On the various smartphone platforms we can manage privacy in applications and then decide which data to share with the apps and which data to block.

Android

On how to protect privacy on Android and installed apps we have seen all the security settings in different guides; to learn more, we recommend that you read our guide to essential security measures for Android to be activated come on how to secure the data of an Android phone.

With an Android smartphone, it is important to avoid installing applications outside the Google Play Store not to catch viruses: if we only use the Play Store we will have a higher level of security and privacy, without having to bother with third-party stores or APK apps to install by hand.

In the section Settings -> security -> device administrators it is advisable to uncheck the apps that are not used or of which we have no memory. As an addition, we can verify the invasiveness of users’ privacy by applications by reading our guide to Android privacy settings hidden in Google Settings.

iOS

Most iPhone and iPad applications ask for a set of specific permissions like access to photos, location, address book, etc. To review the permissions granted, go to Settings -> Privacy. The same list of applications, albeit in a different order, can be seen by scrolling down through the settings.

On iOS, you can change all information about sharing your location in Settings -> Privacy -> Location Services -> System Services. You can disable location-based ads and location sharing, while still leaving the feature enabled Find my iPhone.

To learn more, we can also read our guide to Options to activate or change on iOS.

Conclusions

Privacy is often questioned these days, especially on the devices we use most frequently (smartphones). It takes very little to be profiled and thus receive ads relevant to what we want or have been looking for for a while within the apps or the operating system.

By acting on the settings seen in this guide we will significantly increase the privacy of our portable devices protecting personal information from strangers, deleting data remotely when necessary, choosing to obtain only generic advertising and saving passwords on an external and secure service.

To learn more we can also read our guides to best android security apps to protect your phone and how protect privacy on Android and installed apps.