Previously, I blogged on the near identity protection - on most Android phones – pattern, pin, password and a biometric-based lock – fingerprint or face unlock. You set this on most Android phones by opening the Settings menu, go down the list to Location & Security Settings, check enable to Screen Unlock Security then chose among the options presented.
The safest would be a biometric option, but this is the most complicated to install. The simple "password" should do - but you need to make up a safe and complex password. As Chris Mills puts it "But no matter what security measure you choose, it’s still gonna be better than no password at all, and it’ll stop most casual attacks. It’s worth the one second of inconvenience 50 times a day, honestly."
Set Screen Timeout to a low number
Screen Timeout is the setting that times-out the device from the last keystroke or swipe and shuts off the screen display, locks the device and requires the password be used to wake the device up again. You can set how much time passes between the last use and lock. Use a relative low number.
Put your owner info onto your locked home screen
If you lose the phone and it is locked, who you are, and how to contact you, put on the start page will allow someone who finds the phone to get it back to you.
Do install an Anti-Malware Antivirus Program
The anti-Malware, anti-virus programs available on the market might not be perfect but they will protect your smartphone from the casual kinds of malware attacks you are likely to run into. The experts suggest programs like Lookout Mobile Security, AVG, Avast, McAfee Wave Secure, and Antivirus Free.
Only install apps from trusted sources like the Google Android Market
Google takes pains to ensure none of the apps they sell are infected. While there have been examples of where they have failed, generally they do a pretty good job. Downloading from other sources, unless they are well known apps from trusted vendors, is like playing with a loaded gun.
Do NOT root your Android device
Finally, a disappointing number of Android phone owners remove the manufacturer and cell-carrier-imposed restrictions put on smartphones. "Rooting" makes it easier for apps to be downloaded and installed. Rooting also opens up system-level access to a device’s core resources without any protection. This is, all the experts agree, is a very bad idea.