Background of security for Android
Do you need antivirus for Android? This is what we find out in this article to address any misconceptions on the subject. As mobile devices become more and more powerful, there is concern that they become susceptible to conventional malware.
Applications for Android devices are mainly found on Play Store. However, it is also possible to install apps from other non-official sites. As a result, this increases the risk of running unstable apps, with a lot of bugs, on your device.
It’s important to note that ‘virus’ is a term that is used loosely to indicate any software that is designed with malicious intent on your device.
The proper term is malware and a virus is only one of the different types of malware, as I described clearly in one article. If you have not read it, I suggest you check it out first.
With that in mind, you definitely need an antivirus for your Android device (anti-malware to be specific).
The malware comes bundled up in apps and once you download it your device becomes vulnerable to its effects.
These effects include:
- Disruption of the operating system
- Ads that cannot be controlled
- Unauthorized logging of your data
- And more
You can learn more about the effects of specific malware in another section.
It doesn’t matter whether you are using an Android tablet or smartphone. If an app loaded with malware is installed, you have to actively ‘clean’ the device so that everything is normal again.
How to avoid anti-malware
You are supposed to adhere to best practices that limit your risk of installing apps that harm your Android device.
One of the obvious ways to stay safe is to download all your apps from the official Google Play Store. Google tries by all means to filter out junk apps but a lot of sub-standard apps still slip through the cracks.
To counter this, you can report any apps that have suspicious activity so that Google can strike those apps off the market should that be confirmed.
This is in contrast to Apple’s App Store, where there is more vetting and the ecosystem is closed so its not easy to install low-quality apps.
Who is at risk?
Unlike Apple devices, with Android you can install apps from other sites besides Play Store. This makes it easy for developers to test out apps but the open installation is also available to any user.
As highlighted before, this exposes one to malware attacks and there is no expert to vet the app before you download it. Most of these are disguised as legitimate apps only to act as Trojans.
Android system tries to protect users by disabling ability to install apps from unknown sources. You have to enable the feature to be able to download apps from other Android app stores or sent directly to your device.
Of course, doing that is at your own risk and my advice is don’t do it, even if the app is genuine. In most cases, people forget to uncheck the option, hence installation of any other subsequent app occurs without a security prompt.
Do you need antivirus for Android?
There are numerous Android antivirus software available on the market. They are designed to clean up your device and get rid of malware but the challenge is you get many false-positives.
If an antivirus doesn’t understand any code used in your Android device it flags it as malware.
However, that doesn’t mean they have no place in keeping your Android device secure. Actually, there are excellent antivirus software like BullGuard Internet Security that alert you of any suspicious apps.
Some give you the option to lock your device or wipe it remotely if it gets lost or stolen. That way no-one can access information on your device.
What you really need to do ALL the time
If you want to stay on the safe side there are 6 main things you need to do.
- Download apps only from Play Store
- Follow internet best practices to protect your data online
- Be wary of email attachments that you are not sure of. These can contain malware if downloaded.
- Don’t click links on sites that are dubious
- Make sure your device stays up-to-date and install any security patches that are released
If you install/uninstall a lot of apps make sure you reboot your device once a week to clear any remnants of old apps or force proper updates
What’s important is to follow simple precautions mentioned above to prevent getting malware on your Android device. However, there is still room for an antivirus just in case you frequently install apps from unofficial sites.
This leaves your phone exposed to malware as it’s common to leave the settings open to installation of any apps.
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