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How to use Samsung Galaxy S3's security features

Security should be at the top of everyone's priority list when it comes to smartphones. Fortunately for new Galaxy S3 owners, it isn't difficult to implement.

Judging from some of the Facebook status updates that I have the misfortune of seeing every day, many people don't do nearly enough to keep their phones secure.

Considering how much personal information is stored on our smartphones, from text messages to e-mails and social networks, security should be at the top of everyone's priority list, and fortunately it isn't at all difficult to implement.

If you're the lucky owner of a Samsung Galaxy S3, you'll be glad to know their are plenty of options for keeping your phone super safe. Read on to learn how to make the most of its built-in security features.

1. Use a screen lock

Screen lock on Samsung Galaxy S3.
Screenshot by CNET UK

Some people don't use a screen lock as it takes an extra second to input your pin before you can do anything on your phone, but it's your first line of defense against any unauthorized access and should be implemented right away.

On the Galaxy S3, you can change your screen lock by going to Settings > Security > Screen lock. You have lots of options to choose from here, and if you don't like the conventional PIN access method, you can choose face unlock, which uses the front-facing camera to look at your face and compare it to a stored image that is taken at setup. Bear in mind that this is an experimental feature, so it's not the most foolproof security method in the world.

If you want better security from your lock screen, you can choose to go for the more conventional PIN or password method that can't be circumvented as easily.

2. Encrypt the contents of your phone and SD card

Encryption on Samsung Galaxy S3.
Screenshot by CNET UK

If you're really serious about security, you can encrypt all of the files stored on your phone and SD card so they can't be accessed without a master password that's entered every time your phone is turned on or your SD card is mounted.

The initial encryption process takes more than an hour to complete, but be patient -- if you interrupt it before it's finished, you may lose some of the data stored on your phone. You can find the encryption option at Settings > Security > Encrypt device.

3. Remote controls

Remote control on Samsung Galaxy S3
Screenshot by CNET UK

The Galaxy S3 comes with a really useful feature called remote controls, which allows you to locate your phone from Samsung's Web site as well as remotely lock and erase it. If your phone is ever lost or stolen, you will be able to see exactly where it is at any time and keep your data safe from thieves.

To set up remote controls, you need to register for a Samsung account so that you can log in to the Samsung Web site and interact with your phone remotely. It's a free and simple process, which you can do right on the phone itself -- it just requires your e-mail address and a password. Once it's set up, the "Find my mobile" feature works like Apple's "Find My iPhone," using your phone's GPS radio to show you its current location.

Like the screen lock and encryption options, you can activate remote controls through Settings > Security > Remote controls.

Originally published as How to make your Samsung Galaxy S3 more secure on CNET UK.