One of the best things about the Android platform is the fact that it has an open app market. Developers are free to upload their software and have it distributed to millions of users without having to get approval from Google. But having an open market can also lead to the possibility of malicious software making its way to the Android Market.
Here are some recent examples of malicious apps appearing on the Android Market:
Article 2: Another Trojan found in pirated Android Apps
What can malicious apps do to your device?
- Steal personal data
- Sign up for premium services and rack up your monthly bill
- Reduce performance of your device
- Brick it (makes the device unusable)
How can you avoid downloading malicious apps to your Android device?
Follow the recommendations below and, for the most part, you should feel fairly confident that your Droid will remain safe and secure.
1. Check the security permissions that the app requires
Before installing the app to your device, check the security permissions that the app requires. Make sure that the app doesn’t require any unnecessary permissions to your device and personal settings. For example, a Wallpaper app should not require access to your Messages (SMS), Personal Data (contacts), or System Tools (modify settings). So just be aware of the security permissions of an app before you click the install button. And if something seems suspicious… trust your gut and just skip it for the time being.
2. Read the comments section of the app for user feedback.
The comments section of apps can be a great resource to find out what others think of an app. Always check the user reviews first before downloading an app. It will give you some insight into what people are saying about the performance and reliability of the app.
3. Check the number of times the app has been downloaded.
Apps that have been downloaded in excess of 250,000 times are unlikely to be malicious. Especially if they have been around for awhile and are from a trusted developer. Stick to these types of apps!
4. Avoid installing pirated apps.
I know it’s fun to get free apps. But the fact is some apps are worth paying for if they provide you with a useful service. Don’t steal. It hurts the developers and leads to malicious software being installed on your device. Stick to the Android Market for all your app needs. There are PLENTY of free apps available on the market if you don’t want to spend any money.
5. Install an Anti-Virus app (Lookout or AVG).
Just like your desktop computer, you’ll want to make sure that your Android device also has some Anti-Virus software installed. There are plenty of free options available. Here are two that I recommend: Lookout Mobile Security and Antivirus Free – AVG.
6. Update your device.
Make sure your device is running the latest available version of Android. The latest versions of Android have additional security features in place and have also fixed various security exploits that existed in previous versions. You can check for updates by going to: Home Screen -> Menu button -> Settings -> System Updates. If your device doesn’t have that option, check your carrier or manufacturers website for info on updates for your specific device.
Feel free to leave us a comment below if you have any questions or other recommendations for keeping your Android device free of malware.
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