There is a mind-boggling amount of personal data contained in every smartphone. Photos, videos, music tracks, credit card and bank account numbers; and much more, make our cell phones valuable. The renowned Android Operating System from Google is a firm favourite with millions of users globally.
This open source OS dominates its rivals with 85% of smartphone market share. Hundreds of new apps are created daily for Android as it is a hugely popular OS. But critical issues can crop up from the apps we choose to download—because some of them may contain malware and viruses which hackers can use to steal data about us.
While this is enough to set alarm bells ringing, it also serves to remember that there are numerous ways in which you can protect your precious information.
Here are a few ways in which you can combat the threat of malware on Android devices:
Always install Apps from Google Play Store
There are dozens of gaming and other exciting apps available on the Web. It is but natural to want to download the app that has the most appeal. But indiscriminate app downloads can open up your device to the very real threat of malware attacks. One of the best ways to avoid running into this issue is to install apps only from the official Google Play store.
There are multiple benefits in doing so. For one, Google regularly scans apps that are published in the Play Store for malicious codes or potentially threatening behavior and removes those apps immediately. Thanks to these stringent measures, it is extremely rare to encounter a malicious app in the Google Play Store.
However, if for some reason you are unable to access Google Play store, resist the urge to install apps from suspicious or untrusted sources. There is every possibility that such apps may contain malicious codes.
Update to Latest Software Version
Given our busy lifestyles, many of us tend to overlook the importance of updating our Android devices to the latest software version. This is a simple, easy and free-of-cost task and yet few pay attention. When you update your operating system you can avail not just optimal performance, but also enhanced security features. This may not be an option for all the users, but if it is available for you download and install it.
Utilize Google Malware Scanner
One of the great things in fighting malware on your Android smartphone is the “Google Verify Apps” software that automatically scans apps for malicious code, well before they’re installed from the Google Play store or third-party sites. Additionally, the software also checks the list of apps that are installed on your smartphone to ensure they do not display suspicious behavior, such as attempting to reach your personal information. The steps required to activate the Verify Apps function, can vary depending on your Android software version.
Say NO to Unknown App installs
Navigate to the security settings page on your Android smartphone and locate the option to turn on ‘App installation from Unknown Sources’. As a test, when you attempt to install an APK (Android Application Package) file directly, it will set off a system warning that requests your permission to turn on the option. Ensure that you disable the app installation from unknown sources feature, because a majority of the malicious codes are injected into pirated or untrusted apk files.
Inspect App Permission thoroughly
This is another area which smartphone users take for granted, or ignore. Every time you try to install an Android app you will be presented with a list of permissions that you can accept or reject, before proceeding with the download. There are varying degrees of permissions that are required—from asking for ‘Full network access’, ‘Read Contacts’ or the function to send and receive SMS. Make a note of all these requests and the moment you feel that something seems amiss, terminate the app installation immediately. Just think about it, why would a simple calendar app ask permission to scan and/or access your contact list?
Install an Antivirus App
There’s nothing like the good ol’ antivirus to destroy viruses and malware! Almost all of the leading names in the desktop antivirus market have mobile phone-friendly versions that you can install on your smartphone. Quite a few of these smartphone apps are free (though some are premium). By installing the antivirus app you can protect your web browser, erase device location and also wipe sensitive data off your phone remotely.
Purchasing a feature-loaded, fabulous smartphone is a special achievement. But a battle against hackers awaits you in the wings. Follow the tips discussed in this article to thwart the designs of the bad guys and stay a step ahead of the pack in keeping your Android safe from online threats.