Fun, useful, silly, informative, productive: Android apps are all these things and more. In fact, the huge and diverse selection of apps has been one of the primary factors driving Android devices’ surging popularity. Unfortunately, there’s one more word we should add to the list of adjectives describing apps: dangerous — or, at least, potentially dangerous.
For anyone who has experience with Windows PCs, viruses and malware are nothing new. But not as many people know that Android devices come with their own security risks. While the Android OS is generally more secure than any version of Windows, device owners can still inadvertently unleash malicious apps on their device.
Malicious apps can send unauthorized (and expensive) texts to premium numbers, make other unauthorized purchases, and surreptitiously record phone conversations. Some malicious apps can even steal sensitive personal information, such as account login credentials, credit card numbers, and bank account information.
Most malicious apps can’t install themselves; instead, they rely on tricking unsuspecting users. The most common form of malware, called malvertising, relies on otherwise legitimate apps to lure a user into clicking on an advertisement that redirects to a fake marketplace offering downloads of infected, or often just entirely malicious, apps. Other vectors for infection include scanning unknown QR codes and installing apps that masquerade as a legitimate app.
So what’s a concerned Android user to do? While the only absolutely surefire way to remain malware free is to never download apps or browse the Web on your phone, there are a number of more practical steps Android users can take to dramatically reduce their risk of infection.
If you ever do realize that you’ve been the victim of Android malware, take some comfort in the fact that malicious apps are usually easy to uninstall. Usually, removing these apps is as easy as going to Settings->Applications->Manage Applications. From there, select the name of the application you want to remove and then press the “Uninstall” button. If that doesn’t work, you can try an antivirus app that offers a malware scanning tool, such as Creative Apps’ Free Antivirus tool mentioned above. As a last resort, you may need to back up your data and perform a factory reset, but few malicious apps should necessitate such a drastic action.
If you’re interested in keeping your Android secure, check out the related posts below! What is your favorite security solution for Android?