While companies who sell antivirus apps and other security-focused software continue to warn users of the growing threat of malware aimed at Android devices, exactly how concerned the average Android user should be is worthy of debate.

Enter the Antivirus

We reported last week that Verizon had released a new security suite, powered by McAfee and dubbed Verizon Mobile Security, which would cost users $1.99/month for full protection. If even a fraction of Verizon’s smartphone customers opted to use the service, it is still a sizable addition to the company’s monthly income.

A McAfee report mentioned that the vast majority of new malware aimed at mobile devices is aimed at Android devices. This may sound alarming, but with Android rapidly gaining marketshare, it makes sense, similar to how Windows’ popularity makes it a target in the PC world.

Staying Safe at the Source

While some will point to how open the Google Play Store is as a possibly flaw in security, this isn’t true. Google’s Bouncer security system automatically runs apps submitted to the Play Store to ensure that they are playing by the rules. While the occasional app might make it under the radar, Google is going to great lengths to make sure that apps available in the Play Store are safe.

More often than not, if users encounter malicious apps, they’ve downloaded these apps from somewhere other than the Google Play Store. This is one of the reasons why the ability to install apps from third-party sources is normally disabled by default.

The most at-risk group for malware is also the least likely group to pay for antivirus software: users of pirated software. While software from the Google Play Store and even many third-party app stores is most likely safe, it is a given that pirated apps have been modified, and users have no way of knowing what those modifications may entail.

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Are You Worried About the Right Thing?

While many users worry about the security of their phone, maybe instead they should be worrying about their privacy. While it is fairly easy to make sure you don’t end up with malware on your phone, it isn’t nearly as easy to keep track of who is doing what with your private information, especially if you install a lot of apps.

While it’s unlikely that an app’s developer will use your private information for nefarious purposes, there’s no guarantee that a security breach on their end couldn’t hand your data over to someone else. Developers will often ask for more permissions than they necessarily need, so they don’t need to ask for more permissions to add features later on. Taking a moment to carefully review these permissions will go a long way to keep your sensitive information safe.

What are you doing to keep your phone and private information safe? Does it include an anti-malware app? Do you have any security tips to share?