How to secure your Android from malicious and annoying apps

Android-security-tipsIf you’re one of the 800 million people using an Android device, you’ve likely had at least one encounter with a “potentially unwanted app” (PUA). You know the type: annoying apps that run ads and pop-ups until you finally uninstall them.

What you might not know is that Android malware has become a real problem, and some malicious apps can be more than just annoying: they can compromise your security and your privacy. Preventing a malware infection on your Android device and avoiding PUAs begins with educating yourself. Here are seven tips to help you substantially reduce your risk.

1. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t click on ads that sound too good to be true, as you don’t know what might be lurking behind it.

2. Use common sense when it comes to permissions. For example, if an app requests extended access to your contacts or other personal items, it should explain why. Don’t hesitate to refuse access if you’re not fully convinced.

3. Third-party app stores carry the greatest risk. Google Play isn’t perfect: malware-infected apps and PUAs evade its filters. But many third-party app stores are far riskier. You should avoid file-sharing sites offering free versions of apps that normally require payment. Many of these apps have been cracked and infected.

4. Use consumer reviews as guidance. Multiple negative reviews or warnings about app misbehavior deserve to be taken seriously.

5. Protect your data, protect your phone. Consider using encryption to scramble data stored on your device or on cloud-based storage services. That way, if your data (or your phone itself) is lost or stolen, confidential or personal information never falls into the wrong hands.

6. Display your costs. Some carriers provide Android device settings that inform you whenever you’re spending money. This can help you identify apps that are using paid services such as premium SMS without your knowledge or permission. If your carrier doesn’t provide this capability, you can use the Privacy Advisor on our free Android antivirus app, Sophos Mobile Security for Android. It identifies apps that are using permissions that could result in SMS-related costs.

7. Get reliable protection. You wouldn’t think of running a Windows PC without protection against malware, and you shouldn’t run your Android device without it either.

Sophos Mobile Security for Android

Sophos Mobile Security for Android scans both new and already-installed apps on your device and on all storage devices, without impacting performance or battery life. It can identify and remove both malware and PUAs, protect you from visiting malicious web pages, and query the cloud to reflect up-to-the-minute threat intelligence. You can download the free app from the Google Play store.

Learn more about mobile security

Protecting your personal Android device is one thing. If you’re an IT professional responsible for mobile devices at your organization, you need a more strategic approach. Our free whitepaper on mobile malware can give you a strong foundation for securing mobile devices throughout your organization. Download the whitepaper here: Not Just for PCs Anymore: The Rise of Mobile Malware (registration required).

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