I've used a lot of tools for security—from full disk encryption to screen lock addons. One of the tools I count on the most for mobile device security is an application locker. The software protects your data by requiring a passcode or PIN in order to gain access. For anyone that uses an Android device that contains sensitive data, you owe it to yourself to give one of these tools a go.
Of all the app locker software I've tried, IObit Applock is the one I prefer. Why? Because it works, it has the right features with very little fluff, and there are no ads. IObit Applock is rock solid. The feature list will please anyone looking to add another layer of security to their devices:
- Password protect any app
- Disguise the lock screen with Fake Lock
- Hide sensitive notification content
- Snap a selfie of anyone attempting to break into your device
- Set up email notifications for failed unlocks
- Customized Delay Lock (to avoid frequently unlocking)
Let's install IObit Applock and put it to use.
SEE: Securing Your Mobile Enterprise (ZDNet/TechRepublic special feature)
Installing IObit Applock
- Open the Google Play Store on your Android device.
- Search for IObit Applock.
- Locate and tap the entry by IObit Applock team.
- Tap Install.
- Tap Accept.
- Allow the installation to complete.
With the app installed, you'll find the launcher in either your App Drawer or on your home screen. Tap the IObit Applock icon to open the app, and you're ready to start securing your apps.
Using IObit Applock
When first you open the app, you'll be required to create a passcode (Pattern or PIN code) for the IObit Applock app (Figure A). This passcode will be used to gain access to the app; without this passcode, the app will remain locked. I highly recommend you use a different passcode (either PIN or pattern) than you use for your lockscreen.
Setting up IObit on a OnePlus 3.
Once you set that code and verified it, you'll find yourself on the main IObit Applock window (Figure B).
The IObit Applock main window.
You'll immediately see the notification of the V2.0 Beta inclusion of face recognition. In order to make use of that beta feature, you must become a beta tester. Tap the YES button, and you'll be taken to the beta tester signup page. Since the feature is in beta, I only recommend using it on non-business devices. Tap the NOT NOW button to dismiss the message and start using IObit Applock.
Now find an app you want to lock, and tap the associated lock icon. You'll be prompted to turn on Usage Data Access.
In the resulting window, locate IObit Applock, tap the entry, and then tap the toggle switch for Permit Usage Access (Figure C).
Enabling usage access.
The app you tapped to lock will now be protected by your IObit Applock passcode. You'll also notice a new icon next to the app entry (Figure D); this icon is for the Notification Lock.
The notification lock icon is now ready to serve.
By enabling this icon for each app you lock, IObit Applock will hide information sent from the setup app to the Notification Shade. If you're using Android 6 or greater, this feature is already baked into the platform, so it's a bit redundant, especially considering Android 6 and 7 offer the ability to block information to the notification system on a per-app basis. Bottom line on this: If you're using Android Marshmallow or Nougat, I recommend allowing the operating system to handle this feature.
SEE: Mobile Device Research: 2016 security trends, attack rates, and vendor ratings (Tech Pro Research)
If you want to set up IObit Applock to snap a photo of anyone who enters the wrong passcode three times, do the following.
- Tap the menu button in the top left corner.
- Tap Security Center in the sidebar.
- Tap Intruder Selfie.
- Tap the Start button.
- When prompted tap ALLOW (Figure E).
- Tap ALLOW a second time.
- Go back to the Security Center.
- Tap Bind Email.
- Enter an email address.
- Tap Bind.
Setting up the Intruder Selfie feature.
Any time someone fails three times in their attempt to unlock either the IObit Applock app, or a locked app, the device camera will snap a photo and then send the image to the bound email address. During my testing, the photo was snapped but never emailed. Even if the system doesn't email the photos, you can go to IObit Applock | Security Center | Intruder Selfie to see all of the images snapped of possible intruders.
Out of the box, if someone wanted to bypass the security offered by IObit Applock, all they have to do is uninstall the app from Settings | Apps.
You can prevent this from happening by going to the Security Center and tapping Avoid Being Uninstalled. In the resulting window, tap ACTIVATE. Now, in order to remove the app, you would have to know the IObit Applock passcode to enter the app and then disable Avoid Being Uninstalled. I highly recommend you take this precaution.
This app works
If you're looking for an app locker you can trust, you'd be remiss if you didn't give IObit Applock a go. It offers more features than what are highlighted in this article, but the two I illustrated will go a very long way to protect your data.
Install it, try it, use it...chances are you won't want for any other similar tool.
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Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.