There’s no getting away from the fact that Android is the dominant force when it comes to mobile operating systems.
It’s openness and flexibility is what has helped to make it so popular amongst users, but this openness has also resulted in Android devices increasingly become the target of malware and other malicious apps which are designed to exploit the flexibility of the Google powered OS.
With reports claiming 97 percent of malware targets Android devices and other more recent stories of Android users being targeted by the developers of malware, it’s little surprise that many think of Android as not being as secure as other mobile operating systems, namely iOS.
Whilst these kind of reports and stories are alarming, all it really takes is a bit of common sense to ensure that data on your Android device is safe and that your device isn’t vulnerable to a potential security breach.
See also: How secure is Android?
With this in mind, here are five basic and very simple tips that every Android user should follow in order to ensure their smartphone or tablet remains safe and secure:
1. Only download apps from the Google Play Store
The most common way an Android device can be infected with malware is by when a user starts downloading apps from unverified third parties, which are normally outside of the Google Play Store.
By only downloading apps from the Google Play Store, you will ensure that you are only accessing the secure tiers of Android’s multi layer defence system.
Even so, there have been instances where malicious apps still appear in the Google Play Store, so it’s best to always exercise caution even when downloading apps from Google’s official outlet.
If necessary, Google the title of any app you may be unsure about and read the reviews from other users to see if any one else reports anything untoward.
2. Install antivirus software
You wouldn’t dream of using a PC or laptop without having suitable antivirus software installed on the machine, and it shouldn’t be any different when it comes to your smartphone or tablet.
We’ve previously looked at a number of different Android antivirus apps, and there are even more available in the Google Play Store. Whichever you choose to download, look for an antivirus app that has a good rating – 4.5 stars or higher – and positive reviews. You may also want to choose an app from a security firm you are familiar with, perhaps one whose services you’ve used on your desktop or laptop, for example.
Many of the antivirus apps which are available for free in the Google Play Store will also offer a paid for premium security app, which you may want to consider if you want even greater levels of security for your Android device.
3. Lookout for phishing SMS and email
It’s not just on your computer where you should be wary of phishing. In addition to threats from malicious apps, you should also be on the lookout for phishing attempts via SMS, email or through private messages on sites such as Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin, which you access on your Android device. It is through phishing that fraudsters try to obtain your personal data and or bank/credit card details.
If you do receive a suspicious looking SMS or private message, avoid clicking any links within the message, especially if the message has come from a source you do not recognise. If you receive a message from what appears to be your bank or a financial institution, contact the bank directly to confirm if it is a legitimate request – do not reply to the message directly.
It should also go without saying that under no circumstances should you ever disclose any private or financial information such as account numbers or PINs just because you were asked to do so via an SMS, email or private message.
4. Upgrade to the latest version of Android
Where possible, always make sure you are running the latest version of Android. Sure, sometimes it can take a little longer to receive the latest version depending on the manufacturer of your device, but if there is an update available, it is always advisable to download it.
Generally speaking, software updates include various security improvements. Android 5.0, for example, has closed a lot of security loopholes and eliminated numerous bugs leftover from previous versions of Android.
5. Use a secure screen lock
It’s crazy to not use a secure screen lock on your smartphone or tablet. You want to make it as difficult as possible for someone to gain access to your device in the event it is lost or stolen.
With Android, you can use face recognition to lock your device, but whilst this seems like a good idea, it isn’t necessarily the most secure and there have been instances whereby this particular feature has been easy get around. You can also set up a pattern or pin to unlock your device, which both work well. However, most secure is to set a an alpha numeric password. If you want to make this even more secure, consider regularly changing your password to further reduce the risk of your password being compromised.
In the event your device is ever lost, apps like Android Device Manager provide info on its location and enable to you remotely locate your device, erase any data and update your PIN/passcode so that no one else can access your device.
Despite being straightforward, the tips above are very effective ways of ensuring your Android device remains secure and if you follow them, generally speaking, you shouldn’t encounter any problems with regards to malware or being exposed to security vulnerabilities.
Are there any tips I’ve missed?
What precautions do you take to ensure your Android device remains secure?
Let me know in the comments section below.
Jonathan is our Google Nexus and Android enthusiast. He is also fanatical about football which makes it all the more strange that he should support Stockport County. In addition to writing about tech, Jonathan has a passion for fitness and nutrition and has previously written for one the UK’s leading watch and horology websites.