Most of the native tools for securing Android tablets involve protecting the data on the device, which is good news for IT pros in Android shops. But data protection alone is not sufficient for enterprise use. Android security apps can tackle other threats, such as viruses and malware.
Native Android tablet security features
One way to improve Android tablet security is to prevent unauthorized device access. The screen locks by default after a period of inactivity, but it does not require a pattern, PIN or password to unlock it. You can add this protection by selecting Lock Screen in the Location and Security settings.
There are also built-in capabilities for securing Android tablets remotely, in case a device is lost or stolen. The Find My Mobile feature, found in the security settings menu, lets a user or admin remotely connect to the tablet, lock it and even wipe its data. To use this feature, you'll need to associate the tablet to an online account provided by the manufacturer. On the Samsung Galaxy Tab, for example, you'd set up a Samsung account to access the device remotely.
If a tablet contains sensitive data, it is also useful to encrypt its contents. The default Android tablet security settings do not use encryption, but you can easily change that by enabling encryption in the security settings menu. The initial encryption process will take at least an hour, and you need to make sure the tablet doesn't switch off during that time, so make sure to connect it to the charger. If the encryption process is interrupted, you will lose some or all of the data on the tablet.
Fighting malware with Android security apps
Don’t think that you’ll be fine without Android security apps, because you won’t be.
Securing Android tablets by using their native features is a good start, but it won’t protect your employees’ devices from viruses and other malware. A major problem with Android is that there is no central organization that dictates which apps users can install, so they may end up installing malware on your device.
Don't think that you'll be fine without Android security apps to detect and eliminate malware, because you won't be. Several different anti-malware products are available to improve Android tablet security, such as McAfee Mobile Security.
McAfee also offers advanced remote management capabilities and other features. If you want to try securing Android tablets with this app, a seven-day demo version is available for free. The paid version isn't cheap, but for a price of $30.00 you can help ensure that you have the appropriate protection for your device.
If that price tag is too high for your organization, there are free Android security apps to consider. AVG Antivirus, for one, scans for security problems on your tablet and takes corrective actions if required. One function that isn't offered by Antivirus, however, is device backup. So you’ll need to address that in another way if you want to be able to easily restore critical data on your users’ devices.
This was first published in November 2011