Android may have a more open platform than Apple but with it the potential for malware. Google is trying to take action to fix it with things like Google Play Protect, but there are still out there. But with a little care, it is fairly easy to keep your phone safe and malware-free.
What is Android Malware?
I’m sure you’ve heard the term “malware” before – it’s an abbreviated version of “malware.” It’s too common for a problem to be on Windows, but you can’t think of it as the same thing on Android. It will not cause a number of pop-ups, delay your browser, install toolbars or the like. It just doesn’t work the same way.
Instead, it’s much smaller in your face. Often people do not even know that they have this garbage installed because it stays more hidden on Android. A malicious app can hide like a legitimate app, or it can hide completely from your opinion. But all the time, it can run in the background and do a number of questionable activities, like stealing your private information and uploading who knows where.
For example, the recently found Skygofree malicious program does some pretty bad stuff – like having the ability to run 48 different commands, turn on the phone’s microphone, connect to compromised Wi-Fi and gather lots of information and more. It’s bad.
But don’t dump your phone and go to Apple yet. It’s pretty easy to avoid malware on Android, as long as you are even the slightest bit careful. Here’s what you should do.
Be careful when sticking to the official app and sideloading
One important thing that sets Android apart from other mobile operating systems is the ability to sideload apps – that is, install apps that aren’t on Google’s official Play Store. Most people do not have to, but it can be handy if an app is not available in your country, or if the latest version of an app has not yet rolled out to your device.
Unfortunately, this setting can be dangerous. Google is also actively taking steps to reduce the number of malicious apps available in the Play Store, but it has no control over what you choose to install manually – and installing apps that haven’t been checked will put you at a much higher risk of installing malicious software. Therefore, the Page Load option is disabled by default. Google has also improved the sideloading process in Android Oreo to make it a little safer.
When loading any app, take a few seconds to ask yourself if you trust the source. Is it coming from a legitimate place? For example, you are probably certain that the app comes from APK Mirror, as all files are verified and approved by the site’s very careful owners before being allowed to host the site.
On the other hand, if you download an APK from a site you don’t know, you should investigate first. Is this the developer site? Is the developer well-known and reliable? Have other people received this software?
Also, just look at the site – how many ads are there? What is the quality of these ads? If there are a lot of fishy things going on, the odds are that you should probably avoid it.
Avoid third-party application stores
Because you can sideload applications on Android, that means you can also sideload third-party application stores. There are not many legitimate reasons to do this, although there are exceptions, such as using the Amazon app store for exclusive apps or offers.
However, here are the general rules: Just use GooglePlay. It is not perfect, but it is still much safer than using some potentially unpleasant third-party option that could be filled with all kinds of garbage. This is how a bad situation could develop: let’s say you install a questionable third-party application store. First, you must enable sideloading to install it, which also allows you to use this app store to install more applications. Even if you use Android Oreo, which requires sideloading to be enabled application by application, you must grant this new app store permission to install applications.
But what if the app store itself is malicious? You now have permission to install more applications, so you can install more malware. This is one of the main ways in which malware spreads through the system.
Don’t Install Pirated Apps
This goes hand in hand with the previous point, and it probably goes without saying that I really want it, but don’t hack apps, guys! As in Windows, piracy software is an excellent way to guess your device with all kinds of questionable software. Who knows what you are really installing with pirated content because it is not always what you think it is.
Also, you know, hacking software from developers who work hard is usually a bad thing, so don’t do it?
Be sure to install official applications, even when using Google Play
That said, Google Play is not yet perfect. For example, it was recently discovered that there was a fake WhatsApp list in the Play Store, and it had been downloaded more than a million times. It was such an impressive fake list because even the developer’s name seemed almost identical to the actual WhatsApp developer. That is quite scary.
Again, Google is actively taking steps to reduce these types of problems, but a little due diligence can be very useful. When you install a new application, be careful of anything that looks bad. Verify your permissions, read the description and verify the developer account. If something doesn’t look good, it probably isn’t.
Always install system updates
Google launches monthly security patches for Android, which helps keep the system protected from attacks, especially when a specific vulnerability is discovered that malicious applications are trying to exploit.
While not all manufacturers will release updates as fast as they should, it is your job to install every one they do send out. Not everyone will bring new features, but what they do behind the scenes will keep you protected against these attacks. Take 15 minutes of your day and do it.
You see, it’s really not that difficult to avoid malware and viruses on your Android device, no matter what everyone who fears says.
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