Android has an excellent array of security apps to protect you against threats of malware and viruses. But in my opinion, privacy issues are a far greater concern.
What permissions and elements of my phone are newly installed apps using? How safe is the private data I store on my phone? This was a gap in my knowledge that I wanted to fill – and LBE Privacy is a great tool for this job.
The app protects my privacy, and safeguards services that could cost me money if the wrong apps gained control of them. It does all this with a beautiful and intuitive interface.
It’s worth noting that your device needs to be rooted for you to use this app.
LBE Privacy has a well-designed interface with a simple colour scheme of white and blue. At the forefront of the design is a welcoming main screen displaying the Internet, Privacy, Money, Applications and Settings options.
This great design found through the app makes using it easier and more intuitive – but more than that, it helped me, psychologically, to trust it; the fact they’ve thought out the design makes me feel more comfortable with the app, and lets me assume that the code behind the scenes is also well-designed.
LBE Privacy Guard’s privacy offerings were the main draw for me; while the ROM I run (Cyanogenmod) already allows me to decide what permissions to grant apps, it’s nowhere near as powerful or easy to use as LBE Privacy Guard.
This app lets you restrict access to SMS, Contacts, Call Logs, Positioning, and your Phone ID. By default, when an app on your phone attempts to use one of the previously mentioned permissions on your phone LBE Privacy Guard will ask you whether to allow it or not.
For those of you interested, there is also an events log showing the history of requests by all the apps on your phone (the screenshot on the right of the above image).
This function of LBE Privacy Guard protects your pocket! It blocks apps from accessing permissions that could cost you money: SMS and the ability to make phone calls. This section also appears in the aforementioned event log.
By default, all non-system apps are set to prompt you when requesting access to such features. Although this wasn’t a feature I was looking out for, I feel now that its quite an important one and something I should have wanted much earlier.
The section allows you to browse each app on your phone and change the permissions each app has access to. I’ll run through the options for Angry Birds which you can see in the screenshot. The first option, Trust. allows you to automatically allow the app access to everything: SMS, Contacts, Call Logs, Positioning and your Phone ID. It’s also possible to adjust access to these items separately; for instance, to help ensure I don’t go over my download limit I’ve denied a lot of apps access to my Data.
The Internet section of LBE Privacy Guard isn’t really related to privacy, apart from giving you the ability to restrict certain apps from accessing the net. You’ll see a graph showing how much data you’ve used from your plan, as well as your Wi-Fi usage. Once you set a limit for your data plan, LBE Privacy Guard will alert you if you cross 90% of your allocated amount.
The options included are pretty useful: you’re able to set the billing day for the month so the app keeps prefect track of the amount of data you have left on your plan for the billing month, not the actual month! For those of you just installing the app now, there’s also the option to adjust monthly data usage so LBE Privacy Guard is on track from day one.
The settings area allows you to toggle the different features I’ve already gone through. It’s also possible to turn off notifications – though I find this pretty useful as it shows how much of my data plan I’ve used – and to stop the app starting on boot-up, though in my opinion that’s not something you should do without thinking about first; this app needs to be running all the time to ensure it’s protecting your privacy.
LBE Privacy Guard keeps impressing me the more I use it. Not only has it excelled at guarding my privacy (as its name would suggest), it’s also helped me cut down on my data usage. Thanks to this, I’ll be able to get a cheaper contract in January when my contract needs renewing – so the app has saved me money!
Regarding privacy: be sure to spend a few minutes going through the settings, both overall and for each app, as this is what will make this app so powerful and easy to use. There are many features on offer, so if you’re not interested in some please don’t decide against using this great app – just turn them off. LBE Privacy Guard will keep your data safe.