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How to avoid malware on android

How to avoid malware on android

How to Avoid Android Malware

Android is the most common operating system among mobile phone users. For this reason, cases of malware are most frequent on these devices. This stems from being able to download apps from anywhere online. These apps can be created by anyone and can be spread all over the internet. Here are four tips from Cinch I.T. to prevent malware from attacking your Android device.

  • Use the Google Play Store to install apps. Google has an entire division dedicated to examining apps for malware and other issues before they enter the Google Play Store. On occasion, one containing malware will get through, but installing apps from here is far less risky than downloading elsewhere.
  • Observe reviews and ratings from app users. Five-star ratings and positive reviews are what users look for when downloading apps, but you should take a closer look before downloading. Scam apps use Trojans to up their ratings and to post bogus reviews. Look for patterns such as the same review being posted multiple times in a row or reviews using very few words.
  • Pick apps from trustworthy creators. Sometimes it’s a good idea to look up app creators before downloading one of their apps. Big businesses make sure to thoroughly analyze apps for imperfections or evidence of malware. This process is necessary when striving for a reputable business.
  • Take a close look at app permissions when installing. Each Android app has permissions that it asks for when you install them. Risky permissions include an app’s power to save your data or to take pictures or record audio. Before downloading, ask yourself if the app truly needs access to the requested functions.

@Summerson
Updated October 23, 2018, 11:32am EDT

How to avoid malware on android

Android may have a more open platform than Apple, but with that comes the potential for malware. Google is trying to take steps to correct it with things like Google Play Protect, but it’s still out there. WIth a little bit of care, though, it’s pretty easy to keep your phone safe and malware-free.

What Is Android Malware?

I’m sure you’ve heard the term “malware” before—it’s a shortened version of “malicious software.” It’s all too common of an issue on Windows, but you can’t really think of it as the same thing on Android. It’s not going to cause a bunch of popups, make your browser lag, install toolbars, or anything like that. It just doesn’t work the same way.

Instead, it’s a lot less in your face. Often, people won’t even know they have this garbage installed, because it keeps itself more hidden on Android. A malicious app may disguise itself as a legitimate app, or it may hide itself from your view completely. All the while, though, it can run in the background doing any number of questionable activities, like stealing your private information and uploading it who knows where.

For example, the recently-found Skygofree malware does some pretty bad stuff—like having the option to execute some 48 different commands, turn on your phone’s microphone, connect to compromised Wi-Fi and collect tons of information, and more. It’s bad.

But don’t dump your phone and head for Apple just yet. It’s pretty easy to avoid malware on Android, as long as you’re even the slightest bit careful. Here’s what you should do.

Stick With Official Apps, and Be Cautious when Sideloading

How to avoid malware on android

One major thing that sets Android apart from other mobile operating systems is the ability to sideload apps—that is, install apps that aren’t in Google’s official Play Store. Most people won’t need to do this, but it can be handy if an app isn’t available in your country, or the latest version of an app hasn’t rolled out to your device yet.

Unfortunately, this setting can be dangerous. Google is also actively taking steps to reduce the number of malicious apps found in the Play Store, but it has no control over what you choose to manually install—and if you’re installing apps that haven’t been vetted, you’re at a much higher risk for installing malware. That’s why the option to sideload is disabled by default. Google has also improved the sideloading process in Android Oreo to make it a bit safer.

When sideloading any app, take a few seconds to ask yourself if you trust the source. Is it coming from a legitimate place? For example, you’re probably safe is the app is coming from APK Mirror, since all files are verified and approved by the site’s very cautious owner before they’re allowed to be hosted on the site. (I know the owner well, and have worked for him in the past.)

If, on the other hand, you’re downloading an APK from a site you don’t know, do some research first. Is this the developer’s website? Is the developer a well known and trusted one? Have other people vetted this software?

In addition, just look at the site—how many ads are there? What are the quality of those ads? If there’s a lot of fishy stuff going on, odds are you should probably avoid it.

Avoid Third-Party App Stores

Because you can sideload apps on Android, that means you can also sideload third-party app stores. There aren’t many legitimate reasons to do this, though there are exceptions—like using Amazon’s Appstore for exclusive apps or deals.

But the general rule here should be this: just use Google Play. It’s not perfect, but it’s still a lot safer than using some potentially janky third-party option that could be filled with all sorts of junk. Here’s how a bad situation could play out: let’s say you install a questionable third-party app store. You have to enable sideloading to install it in the first place, which allows you to also use this app store to install more apps. Even if you’re using Android Oreo, which requires sideloading to be enabled on a app-by-app basis, you have to grant this new app store permission to install apps.

But what if this app store itself is malicious? Now it has permission to install more apps, so it can install more malware. This is one of the primary ways malware is spread through the system.

For the Love of God, Don’t Install Pirated Apps

This goes hand-in-hand with the above point, and probably goes without saying—I really wish it did—but don’t pirate apps, you guys! Just like on Windows, pirating software is a great way to riddle your device with all sorts of questionable software. Who knows what you’re actually installing with pirated content, because it’s not always what you think it is.

Also, you know, pirating software from hardworking developers is just a generally crappy thing to do so just don’t do it, okay?

Make Sure You’re Installing Official Apps, Even When Using Google Play

All the above said, Google Play still isn’t perfect. For example, it was recently discovered there was a fake Whatsapp listing in the Play Store, and it had been download over one million times. It was such an impressive fake listing because even the developer name looked nearly identical to the actual developer of WhatsApp. That’s pretty scary stuff.

How to avoid malware on android

Again, Google is actively taking steps to reduce these kinds of problems, but a little due diligence can go a long way. When you’re installing new app, be wary of anything that looks amiss. Check its permissions, read the description, and check the developer’s account. If something doesn’t look right, it probably isn’t.

Always Install System Updates

How to avoid malware on android

Google releases monthly security patches for Android, which help in keeping the system protected against attacks—especially when a specific vulnerability is found that malicious applications are trying to exploit.

While every not every manufacturer will release updates as quickly they should, it’s your job to install every one they do send out. They won’t all bring new features, but the stuff they do behind the scenes will keep you protected against these attacks. Take the 15 minutes out of your day and do it.

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We all appreciate the free open-source operating environment of the Android platform because it helps us build free apps. This openness puts it at risk making it susceptible to malware.

Although, there have been efforts by its creator, Google, to secure it with measures such as the introduction of Google Play Protect. However, you still have a part to play.

​If you are someone who is worried about the safety and security of smartphone, here is something of your interest. Since most of the malware threats are a result of the user’s participation, it would be difficult to put your phone in serious danger without playing a role in the process.

What is Android Malware?

You are probably familiar with the word ‘malware’, which is simply the short form of the term- malicious software. If you have used Windows platforms, then you must be aware that malware is a common thing.

This malicious software may cause a series of popups that make your operating system lag. Other common problems include rapid installation of unwanted apps.

Some android malware might be hideous in nature. You may not see the threat outright in the foreground, but you could be under a serious attack. They might either hide from your view completely or in open sight. Malicious applications might appear as they were legitimate ones.

While you remain clueless, they continue to run in the background doing malicious activities. This includes collection of your private information and sending it to unauthorized destinations.

One of the most common dangerous malware is the Skygofree application. It is capable of executing up to 48 commands on your device. For example, it can switch on your phone’s microphone; connect to open Wi-Fi to collect as much information as your space can hold. These are just some of the grievous things Skygofree can achieve without your knowledge.

This exposure should not scare you to instantly consider abandoning your phone. You have a chance to be a step ahead of threats on Android applications too. Most importantly, it is easy to do this only if you are keen enough and careful. According to experts, keeping your device safe is more of common sense than knowledge in mobile technology.

Can Android get Viruses?

If you are wondering whether your Android device can get a virus beware that, it is susceptible. Viruses are a form of malicious software too that may damage your device among other minor and serious problems. They can achieve their destructive purpose by proceeding without your knowledge.

Since Android has the famous open-source environment, it is quite easy for even amateur non-mobile programmers to embed and use the applications. This increases your device’s risk to malware attacks.

​Remove Android Malware

​Get rid of adware, spyware and any other unwanted threats from your phone.

A single setting could make all the difference when it comes to keeping your device secure.

Apple’s iOS is a real walled garden. With the exception of those brave enough to “jailbreak” their phones, Apple controls which apps get into its App Store, and which don’t.

Related stories

On Android, it’s not so simple. Google similarly vets its own Play store, but there’s a huge loophole: Android users can allow third-party software software installations simply by checking off a button in the settings menu.

The reasons for allowing that outside Android software may range from the benign (beta-testing apps) to the nefarious (pirated software). But as ZDNet’s Zack Whittaker recently detailed, by allowing app installs from unknown sources, you’re essentially opening up your device to potential malware infections.

How to keep your Android device safe

By default, Google prevents users from installing apps from sources other than the Play store.

The best way to protect yourself is to leave the installation of apps from unknown sources disabled. It’s a good idea to double-check that the setting is still disabled, just to be safe.

How to avoid malware on android

Leave this setting disabled. Nothing good can come from turning it on.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Exact placement of the option will vary based on the device you own, but it generally is found in the Settings app under Security > Unknown Source.

To be clear: This doesn’t make your phone 100 percent safe. Nor does it protect you from non-software security issues, including phishing attacks and cloud-based password breaches.

That said, keeping unknown sources deactivated on your phone or tablet is a strong first line of protection that will prevent the most egregious malware from having open access to your device.

What you’re giving up

While disabling access to unknown sources is the safest course of action, it may involve some sacrifices.

For example, Android app site APKMirror requires unknown source installation to be enabled. More significantly, Amazon Underground, the retailer’s third-party app store, requires the “unknown sources” toggle to be switched, too. And that’s the only way to get the Amazon Prime Video app on Android devices. (For reasons unknown, most of Amazon’s other media apps — including the Kindle app and the Amazon Music app — are available in the Google Play store, and thus do not require unknown source access.)

But just remember: By allowing apps from those third parties, you’re also opening a de facto security hole on your device. And even if Android security is getting better, it only works if you actually keep Google’s safeguards turned on.

That’s why you should only install applications from official channels such as Google’s Play store, or for Samsung Galaxy users, the Galaxy App Store.

A single setting could make all the difference when it comes to keeping your device secure.

Apple’s iOS is a real walled garden. With the exception of those brave enough to “jailbreak” their phones, Apple controls which apps get into its App Store, and which don’t.

Related stories

On Android, it’s not so simple. Google similarly vets its own Play store, but there’s a huge loophole: Android users can allow third-party software software installations simply by checking off a button in the settings menu.

The reasons for allowing that outside Android software may range from the benign (beta-testing apps) to the nefarious (pirated software). But as ZDNet’s Zack Whittaker recently detailed, by allowing app installs from unknown sources, you’re essentially opening up your device to potential malware infections.

How to keep your Android device safe

By default, Google prevents users from installing apps from sources other than the Play store.

The best way to protect yourself is to leave the installation of apps from unknown sources disabled. It’s a good idea to double-check that the setting is still disabled, just to be safe.

How to avoid malware on android

Leave this setting disabled. Nothing good can come from turning it on.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Exact placement of the option will vary based on the device you own, but it generally is found in the Settings app under Security > Unknown Source.

To be clear: This doesn’t make your phone 100 percent safe. Nor does it protect you from non-software security issues, including phishing attacks and cloud-based password breaches.

That said, keeping unknown sources deactivated on your phone or tablet is a strong first line of protection that will prevent the most egregious malware from having open access to your device.

What you’re giving up

While disabling access to unknown sources is the safest course of action, it may involve some sacrifices.

For example, Android app site APKMirror requires unknown source installation to be enabled. More significantly, Amazon Underground, the retailer’s third-party app store, requires the “unknown sources” toggle to be switched, too. And that’s the only way to get the Amazon Prime Video app on Android devices. (For reasons unknown, most of Amazon’s other media apps — including the Kindle app and the Amazon Music app — are available in the Google Play store, and thus do not require unknown source access.)

But just remember: By allowing apps from those third parties, you’re also opening a de facto security hole on your device. And even if Android security is getting better, it only works if you actually keep Google’s safeguards turned on.

That’s why you should only install applications from official channels such as Google’s Play store, or for Samsung Galaxy users, the Galaxy App Store.

How to avoid malware on android

How to avoid malware on android

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Does my Android phone have a virus? Is it infected with malware or a malicious app? Will my personal information be held for ransom? If you find yourself asking these questions, then here is some useful information about Android devices and antivirus apps that may help you.

Viruses and other types of malware

Malware is malicious software that can sneak onto your phone. Written with the intent to cause harm, malware can include viruses, computer worms, Trojans, ransomware, and spyware.

Cybercriminals can use malware to access your personal data and, in some cases, subsequently use that sensitive information to commit identity theft or fraud.

Viruses are a particular type of malware that infiltrate a computer or other device and their programs. A cybercriminal may be able to install a virus on your device without your knowledge or consent. The virus may then be able to insert new, malicious code on your device that can monitor and manipulate your online activity.

What can viruses and other malware do to Android phones?

Malware is designed to generate revenue for cybercriminals.

Malware can steal your information, make your device send SMS messages to premium rate text services, or install adware that forces you to view web pages or download apps.

Info stealers can steal your contact list, your personal information, your location, your passwords, and more.

With the aid of malware, cybercriminals can access your devices and steal your information for their own use or to sell on the dark web.

Hackers also use ransomware to lock devices and encrypt personal data. Then they can demand a ransom payment from the victim in order to regain access to their files.

Signs your Android phone may have a virus or other malware

Phones can be vulnerable to damage externally and internally. While the external damage is usually visible, internal damage is usually hidden from view.

Malware like viruses are known to perform repeated tasks that can take up resources on your devices. Signs of malware may show up in these ways.

  1. Your phone is too slow.
  2. Apps take longer to load.
  3. The battery drains faster than expected.
  4. There is an abundance of pop-up ads.
  5. Your phone has apps you don’t remember downloading.
  6. Unexplained data usage occurs.
  7. Higher phone bills arrive.

How to check for viruses and other malware on your Android phone

A good way to check for malware on your Android phone is to run an antivirus scan.

Before buying antivirus software for your phone, make sure you consider the most comprehensive product that’s available for your device.

There are many antivirus software choices available on the market. Some are free, and some are sold.

It’s a good idea to do your research to ensure the security software you invest in runs a complete scan and doesn’t overlook any vulnerabilities. An incomplete scan could give you a false sense of security when, in fact, your device could be vulnerable to cyberattacks.

Norton Mobile Security for Android is one product you might consider.

How to remove viruses and other malware from your Android device

If you think you have malware on your phone, it’s important to stop the malware from causing any further damage. Here are a few steps you can take.

  1. Power off the phone and reboot in safe mode. Press the power button to access the Power Off options. Most Android phones come with the option to restart in Safe Mode. Here’s how, according to Google, although Safe Mode can vary by phone: Press your phone’s power button. When the animation starts, press and hold your phone’s volume down button. Hold it until the animation ends and your phone restarts. You’ll see “Safe mode” at the bottom of your screen.
  2. Uninstall the suspicious app. Find the app in Settings and uninstall or force close it. This may not completely remove the malware, but it could prevent further damage to your device, or from it transmitting the malware to other devices on your network.
  3. Look for other apps you think may be infected. There’s a chance that some apps may have been infected by the malware. If you think you can identify those apps, delete them immediately.
  4. Install a robust mobile security app on your phone.

Tips to help protect your Android device against viruses and other malware

Here are seven key steps you can take to help protect against future risks.

  1. Invest in and use robust security software to protect your Android device.
  2. Keep all operating systems and software updated with the latest versions.
  3. Don’t click on suspicious or unfamiliar links in emails and text messages.
  4. Use strong, complicated passwords or a password manager.
  5. Never use unsecure Wi-Fi connections. Always use a VPN when connecting to public Wi-Fi.
  6. Always use strong cyber safety protection on all devices that connect to the internet.
  7. Always install apps from trusted sources, such as the Google Play Store. Read the fine print and permissions on the apps to understand how much access you are giving the app developers.

It’s a good idea to not wait until your device gets infected. Make protecting your Android device a priority. Having good antivirus software that helps protect your PCs, tablets, and other Android devices could help prevent malware from spreading from device to device.

How to avoid malware on android

It’s a seriously compelling offer—of that there can be no doubt. The Best Fortune Explorer app on Google’s Play Store promises a test that will “help you to find out the answer” to a number of critical life questions. “Do you want to know when your true love will come? Do you want to know if you will be given a promotion and an increase in salary in the future?” Of course you do, who wouldn’t. Better still, the app is free—all of this wisdom is available without charge. Unfortunately, for the near 200,000 Android users that have taken the plunge, a new report claims the only thing that’s certain in their future is malware and a plague of fraudulent ads.

How to avoid malware on android

Google Play Store / 20 December 2019

The app is just one of many disclosed by the research team at White Ops Threat Intelligence on December 19. The “100+ malicious apps, with more than 4.6 million downloads” all threaten the same fraudulent outcome, each using a common code module that the research team has named “Soraka.” Worse, though, this strain of adware actively hides, making itself harder to detect and delete. “Those hiding behaviors are significant,” White Ops’ John Laycock told me. “The fraudsters are getting smarter—they know this is now an arms race, they’re trying to slow down analysis with these tactics. We’re seeing these types of behaviours more and more.”

Many of the disclosed apps are relatively recent additions. Leveraging these latest, more sophisticated tools and techniques. Despite report after report, the prevalence of Play Store adware seems to show no signs of abating—there have now been hundreds of apps removed and millions of downloads impacted. And while such malware is usually just a nuisance, we have seen subscription and call fraud masquerading in the same way, and—as ever—the real warning is that any malware on your device is very much a bad thing to be avoided. Adware can—and does—lead to worse outcomes.

Right at the heart of this issue is free, often nonsensical apps. As I’ve written many times, free is free for a reason. If you’re not paying for an app in an obvious way, then you’re paying for it in some other way. The ability to sneak countless ad displaying machines onto your device makes millions for the fraudsters—there is often common code, developers, operators sitting behind numerous bad apps. The concept is simple, develop something flippant and catchy, offer it for nothing, wait.

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The store reviews often give the issue away, this despite the efforts of many operators to obfuscate by promoting their apps with fake reviews to pump their popularity. But the fortune telling app has not gone to such lengths. “The main problem,” one reviewer warns, “is that you will get non stop ads—it’s like a virus.” Another complains that “this app doesn’t work,” I’m assuming that’s a technical issue and not a complaint that it failed to accurately predict the future—but you never know.

The developers of this particular malicious code module have focused on avoiding detection from antivirus software and security researchers. The apps will only display ads if the install follows a promotional push, in essence a user responding to a click, an invite to install. The app seeks to avoid detection from organic installs—meaning automated systems that find and install the app and then check it for any unwanted threats. This is part of a framework that can flex the numbers of ads delivered over time windows, all based on the behaviours and status of the infected device.

The fraudsters had “several methods to maintain what we call persistence,” Laycock explained. “The other was obfuscation—we’ve seen that before, but it was interesting to us that they were using characters from the Udmurt language.” A Cyrillic character was used within the code execution “to make analysis more difficult.” Udmurt is a local dialect from the Volga region of Russia. Whether this was selected at random for its obscurity or because there are Russian origins to the code has not been disclosed.

Other apps disclosed by White Ops and found to be hiding the same malicious code are listed below. They include a bedtime reminder, a “cute” love test, a lie detector and even a days counter. They’re all free and, according to White Ops, they should all be removed immediately. As to why Android seems to be plagued by such issues—Laycock puts it down to scale, the use of open source code and side loading from third party stores. More simply, “it’s like the Willie Sutton quote,” he told me. “‘Why do you rob banks? Because that’s where the money is’.”

Both the developer behind the Best Fortune Explorer app and Google were asked for comments before this story was published. Nothing has been received as yet. Google was also given the full list of apps, many of which remain on the Play Store, available for download—including, at the time of publishing, the Best Fortune Explorer itself.

As always in such reports, the advice remains to take care on what you allow onto your phone. When it’s free, trivial and from an unknown developer, it’s best avoided. And if you do download such apps, be mindful of the permissions you are granting. Once you allow a malicious app access to your data, phone, camera and microphone, contacts, then you are inviting much more serious trouble than adware.

The App Packages that White Ops says contain the Soraka module or derivatives are below. It is worth quickly checking your installed apps against the list.

How to avoid malware on android

While using your phone, you might have noticed some unusual behavior that may be causing some serious problems like frequent lagging, faster battery draining, and others.

If these problems are continually appearing, then it is a sign of a Malware Attack. Malware, commonly termed as a ‘Virus,’ is a malicious program created by cybercriminals for carrying out various ill-disposed activities like:

  • Identity theft to sell your identity on the dark web.
  • Generate revenues through ads bombarding.
  • Stealing browsing information, bank details, personal files for extortion.
  • Encrypting essential data for the ransomware.
  • Using your device computing power for crypto mining.
  • Capturing your keystrokes.
  • Spying

These are just the most common functions of malware; it can further damage the device in many other ways. Malware is of several types like Trojans, Spyware, Adware, Ransomware, Browser Hijacker, and others. A virus is also a type of Malware.

In this guide, we would discuss more on Malware or Virus and look for ways to remove it from your Android phone.

What are the signs of a Virus or other Malware attack?

Whenever a malware attacks your phone, usually, it would show several abnormalities. Here are a few indications that confirm the entry of a Malware program on your device:

  • Your phone becomes sluggish and hangs repeatedly.
  • Your browser and apps are bombarded with irrelevant and unintentional ads.
  • You see banner and pop-up advertisements on the apps that usually do not display ads such as WhatsApp, Facebook, or any system app.
  • The phone’s battery is draining rapidly than usual.
  • The phone is filled with some apps that you do not remember downloading.
  • You are redirected you irrelevant and untrustworthy websites on your browser.
  • The phone’s data usage has suddenly risen.

How to check for Viruses on your Android phone?

In the previous section, you got to know about the indications that confirms the presence of Malware programs on your device. Now, to check for the culprit program, you can perform the malware scan using antimalware instead of looking for the malware manually.

If you don’t have any security program for your phone, you must get one immediately. There are plenty of security apps available in the market for your device.

For the best results, you must go for the antimalware program that is most compatible with your phone and also goes with your budget.

How to remove Viruses from Android Phones?

It is essential to get rid of the malware from your phone so that it cannot further damage your device. You can perform the following measures to remove viruses or other malware from your phone.

Note: Options explained in this guide may vary according to different mobile manufacturer company, so look for similar options on your phone.

1. Remove Malicious Apps through Safe Mode

Safe Mode is the perfect environment to remove malicious applications from your phone permanently.

  1. Press and hold the Power Button on your Android phone.
  2. Touch the power icon on the screen that would boot your phone in Safe Mode.
  3. To ensure that you are in Safe Mode, notice that only native apps are active, and the Safe Mode icon is there at the bottom.How to avoid malware on android
  4. Now, one by one start removing the apps that you have installed right before the abnormality starts on your device.How to avoid malware on android
  5. Remember to make a list of the apps that you are uninstalling so that you can re-install them if they are safe.
  6. After every app removal, restart your phone in normal mode and check if the problem persists. Repeat steps 4 and 5 until you catch the malicious app.
  7. After the problematic application is detected, you can re-install other apps.

2. Run an Antimalware Scan

If you could not catch the infected application, get an extensive antimalware program, and perform a full system scan.Antimalware applications are a much better option as they can easily find the culprit app responsible for the malware infection.

How to avoid malware on android

3. Factory Reset the Phone

If even after trying the above two steps, the malware is still stuck on your device, then you have to take the ultimate action of Factory reset the phone.

  1. On your phone, go to Settings and choose System.How to avoid malware on android
  2. Under System settings, select Reset.
  3. Tap on RESET PHONE to clear all data from the phone.

How to avoid malware on android

Tips to Avoid Malware in Future

By applying the measures provided in the previous section, you should be able to remove the malware from your phone. However, it would be best if you always were prepared for such attacks and not wait until it occurs. Here are some suggestions to avoid such trouble in the future:

  • Always keep a robust and trustworthy security app on your phone.
  • Ensure that your device and applications are always up to date. An outdated application is a potential virus.
  • Always follow healthy browsing practices while on the internet. Never click a suspicious link or go for an intriguing pop-up ad.
  • Avoid opening email attachments from unknown sources.
  • Avoid connecting to an insecure WiFi. If it is necessary, then use VPN to connect.
  • Be very careful while downloading freeware. They are mostly malware carriers.
  • Install apps from trusted sources like Google Play Store.

Bottom Line

So, this was all about malware and how to remove them from your Android devices. Keep in mind that, to release their infected apps or files, cybercriminals always look for sources where there are a considerable number of users so that the gain from the damage is maximum. Since Android is an open-source OS with a vast user base, there is no better platform for cybercriminals. So, always be attentive and follow virus avoiding measures.

How to avoid malware on android

According to Check Point Research, a new species of Android malware has been found in the wild that quietly infected around 25 million devices. That malware was dubbed “Agent Smith” and uses an Android’s device resources to display fraudulent ads for financial gain.

Such malicious attacks have been prevalent on the Android platform for some time and are showing little to no signs of slowing down.

Is there anything Android users can do? Fortunately, yes. There are things you can do to lower the likelihood of your Android device getting infected by such malware. Let’s examine four of the essential possibilities.

Don’t Sideload Applications

How to avoid malware on android

First, you must understand what “Sideloading” means. As with most operating system platforms, there are official “Stores” where applications can be installed for free or at a price. These app stores typically vet applications that are made available, so the chances of those apps, including malware, are reduced.

That doesn’t mean those App Stores are 100% guaranteed to be free of malicious software, but it does give the user some assurance. Repositories like the Google Play Store, Apple’s App Store, and the Microsoft Store are always trying to improve how they track down and remove malicious software.

When you install a piece of software from outside those stores, it’s called “side loading.” For the Android platform, numerous websites offer installable applications that you can download and add to your device. One such site is F-Droid. According to ProPrivacy.com, F-Droid is safer than the official Google Play Store. Such claims cannot be made for every site that offers side loadable apps.

Because of this, sideloading apps should only be considered by Android users willing to investigate a site and vet any app they plan on installing. Casual Android users or people unwilling to go that extra mile shouldn’t even consider sideloading.

Tread Carefully in the Google Play Store

How to avoid malware on android

Along the same vein as sideloading apps, you shouldn’t just assume every app in the Google Play Store is safe. Unless you have a team of software QA outsourcing like BairesDev to vet every app you plan on installing, you should assume most apps aren’t safe.

So, only install the apps that you have to have to work and get them from established companies and reputable developers. Why? The companies that develop official apps have a vested interest in only releasing safe applications. The last thing they need is a malicious application leading to a class-action lawsuit. To that end, most big companies are very cautious with the software they release.

If you consider the software built into Android, you have the following tasks covered out of the box:

  • Texting
  • Phone
  • Internet
  • Podcasts/Music
  • Youtube
  • Messenger
  • News
  • Email

Without installing a single application, a lot of what you do is already covered. If you add the following applications, you should set up:

  • Instagram
  • Snapchat
  • Twitter
  • Facebook

Since the above four applications come from large companies, chances of them, including malware, are slim.

Use Open Source Software

How to avoid malware on android

I mentioned F-Droid earlier. What’s remarkable about that service is it only offers open-source software. What is open source? Open-source software means that the code for an application is released under a specific license that requires the developer to grant users the rights to study, change, and distribute the software. The apps found on F-Droid are all open-source, which means that any user, developer, or institutions (such as Q&A testing services) can vet the software.

With open-source software, it becomes harder for bad actors to hide malicious code. When an application is a proprietary (AKA closed source), it cannot be vented outside of the company that created it.

As a bonus, no application found on F-Droid includes any means of tracking users. So you have apps available to you that are free of cost, free of malicious code, and free of tracking. The caveat? Although there are quite a few titles to be installed from F-Droid, you won’t find any of the official Google apps, and some of the apps might seem a bit out of date or overly complicated for the average user.

Avoid Software with Few Reviews

How to avoid malware on android

Reviews can be faked. Reviews can be bought. Studies are also one of the fastest means to find out if a piece of software can be trusted. If you go to install an app from the Google Play Store, and you notice it has zero reviews – avoid it. Or, if the app has just a handful of studies that say little about the software or is worded poorly, don`t install the app.

To that end, if you use and trust a piece of software, and you like said software, take the time to leave a review to boost the trust of the application.

Update, Update, Update

How to avoid malware on android

Updates to applications and operating systems are made available for several reasons. One of the single most important reasons is patching security vulnerabilities. If you allow either apps or the Android system to go without updating, know that you are possibly leaving your device vulnerable to attacks.

For example, Google releases monthly security patches for Android. Making sure you apply available updates is crucial to install the most recent security patch. The one caveat to this is that not every device manufacturer releases those updates in a timely fashion. The only way to ensure you have a device that gets the security patches and other Android updates as soon as they are released is by using an official tool from Google. In other words, the Pixel Phone.

Stay Safe

How to avoid malware on android

By following these simple rules, your Android experience should be free from malicious software. Does it guarantee you’ll never wind up with malware? No. No device that is connected to a network is ever 100% secure. But every step you can take to prevent malware from finding its way onto your smartphone or tablet will go a long way to protecting you, your device, and your data.

Google recently disabled 16 Android apps infected with Joker malware, but only users can uninstall them.

One of the most persistent pieces of malware targeting Android devices has reared its head again, this time appearing in 16 apps on the Google Play Store.

As security company Zscaler explains, the apps in question were infected with the Joker malware. It steals SMS messages, contact lists, and device information, but the most serious threat it poses to users is automatic sign-ups to premium wireless application protocol (WAP) services. With WAP billing, users get a shock next time they receive their mobile phone bill as the service costs are charged directly to it.

The Joker malware circumvents the Google Play app vetting process through a combination of code tweaks, execution method variation, and changes to how it downloads the payload allowing it to function, steal information, and trigger the WAP service sign-ups. Google has removed the 16 infected apps from the Play Store and disabled them on devices where they are installed, thought to be in the region of 120,000 devices. The list of apps includes:

All Good PDF Scanner

Hummingbird PDF Converter – Photo to PDF

Mint Leaf Message-Your Private Message

One Sentence Translator – Multifunctional Translator

Paper Doc Scanner

Style Photo Collage

Talent Photo Editor – Blur focus

Tangram App Lock

Unique Keyboard – Fancy Fonts & Free Emoticons

Editors’ Note: This list initially included 17 apps, but Zscaler has since confirmed that one of the apps was placed on the list twice in error. We’ve reached out to clarify whether it will be replaced with a 17th or if the list stands at 16.

As ZDNet reports, the one thing Google can’t do, however, is remove the (now disabled) apps from a device. That task is left up to the user. If you have any of these apps installed, simply open Settings on your device, open Apps, find the app in the list, select it, and tap uninstall. You’ll know the uninstallation is complete when Android reloads the list of apps. Rinse and repeat the process if you have more than one of the apps listed above installed.

Related

  • BlackRock Malware Steals Data From 337 Android Apps
  • Google Launches Kids Space for Select Android Tablets
  • Thousands of Cheap Android Phones in Africa Were Pre-Installed With Malware

As the Joker malware is so difficult to thwart, it seems unlikely this is the last time we’ll hear about infected apps being removed from the Play store. If you’re unsure about installing a new app, do some checking first. A quick search for the app name could reveal it’s one to avoid or perfectly safe to install and use. And to help keep your Android phone secure, install a top-rated Android Antivirus app.