There are three main security layers: operating system, apps, and internet traffic. When I first started to look into secure phones my focus was on finding the perfect phone and operating system. I went through a number of different phones and operating systems looking for the one with the best security, amazing graphical interface, useability, performance, and battery life. Finally, I landed on GrapheneOS as the secure operating system, which is covered on the Secure Operating System page.
The most secure phone can fail when equipped with insecure apps. Take, for example, the Facebook app. A recent article by NPR states that Facebook exposed the data of 530 million users. Not to mention that it has been exposed multiple times for selling user data (see Facebook’s data-sharing deals exposed by BBC).
Imaging that water is like data. Using a secure phone is like picking up a bucket to carry your water (data). Installing insecure apps like Facebook would be comparable to poking holes in the bucket. Each time you install another app a little more data leaks out. Cumulatively this will have a significant effect on the security of your data. As you can see using a secure operating system is only the first step; using secure apps is critical in keeping the phone secure.
Last but not least is securing your internet traffic. The idea beyond this is to make your device anonymous, encrypt all traffic, filter all traffic, and hide where the traffic is coming from. Let’s start with the assumption that much of your data is in the hands of big tech and government agencies. If you have been using a smartphone for years and just started to implement security; then this is a safe assumption.
The best thing you can do immediately is start implementing some security, even if it is a small change. Even if someone has your data if they can’t tie it to you then they can’t target and/or manipulate you. So our best first step is to implement a service that will hide the identity of your device. We recommend AdGuard with VPN to protect your devices. This app will pass all traffic through a VPN which will anonymize your device so that it is more difficult to connect a user with their device, promotes encryption, and filters and blocks advertising.
When it comes to smartphones there is no 100% security. However, that doesn’t mean that making your phone more secure is worthless. It is worth the effort to secure your privacy and your data even if it isn’t perfect. We didn’t fight for our freedom in the USA just to give it up out of convenience or ignorance. Regardless of where you live I would encourage you to begin implementing some phone security today.