If you’ve been keeping up with our posts, you know that the Android platform, just like any other operating system, is not 100% bulletproof when it comes to hacking. And with the increasing adoption of the Android OS among phone users, it’s become quite a large and lucrative target for malicious hackers everywhere. But how do you protect yourself against these threats? You just need to be informed, be attentive, and use the right tools.
Despite earlier events such as the DroidDream debacle, the Android Market is still the main source for Android apps. Google does slip up occasionally but you can at least count on them to clean up their mess and protect the company reputation to restore their faith in Android. So when you find a site that seems to offer apps in a shady manner, best to leave that and go to those that you know are trustworthy. The Android Market, Amazon Appstore, AppBrain and Android Zoom are just a few you can count on.
I know this is a tedious step but you really ought to learn at least the basics of how those apps you use work, especially if it will handle a lot of your personal or sensitive info. Besides the basic information found on the Market, you could visit the developer’s site, or scour Android news and forums sites. Try to gather as much feedback from experts and regular users in order to get a complete picture about the app’s operations. When you do decide to download and install it, you can now more or less judge if the app is doing something fishy or not.
Just like when surfing the web, common sense practices also apply when surfing the internet on your Android phone. Among other things, this involves conscientiously logging out of accounts, regularly clearing the phone’s browser history, and not choosing autosave or autocomplete settings options. At the very least, apply these when accessing online payment and banking sites if you think that clearing cookies for every site is too much of a hassle.
A robust but memorable password is your first line of defense against hacking. Try not to use the same one for every account and come up with a good one that can’t be cracked or guessed easily. Use this especially for your voicemail, which unfortunately one of the more vulnerable areas of your mobile phone. Some services don’t come with configuration options for accessibility while others use pre-set passwords. If you can customize your voicemail’s password, go ahead and apply one.
Smartphones are just as susceptible to viruses and other malware as PCs. Unlike desktops however, there’s a better chance that your Android phone will get stolen or fall into unscrupulous hands when you lose it. It’s not the cost of the hardware that you should be worried about, but what the thief might do with the wealth of personal information contained in the phone. This is the reason why mobile security applications don’t just have the standard antivirals features; they also feature remote data wiping (as well as data backup) functions that can turn the stolen phone into a relatively expensive but empty gadget.