The Google Play Android market is not policed by anyone from Google. This makes it somewhat of a sanctuary for those who would like to hijack Android smartphones or tablets. In the Android market it is the users who are the ones who report infected applications to the public. This puts the burden of safety and security on the user instead of on the ones who created the Android software.
How do you know which ones are safe? You have probably seen in the news the burgeoning malware problem that Android has. Getting to know your way around your smartphone as well as having an anti-malware program is not just a good idea, it is essential. Before opening up any downloaded app, take a look at what you can do to protect yourself.
There are some potent security applications available for Android, but first, it is best to get to know your way around your smartphone. For those who have version 2.3 Gingerbread and the newer 4.0 “Ice Cream Sandwich” it is wise to check on your application permissions. This is something that can be done from the menu of the smartphone or tablet.
From the menu, go to “Settings”, then “Applications” and finally “Manage Applications”. From there you can see a list of applications. Choose one and scroll to the bottom to see the permissions that are assigned to it. Some applications will want access to your personal contacts or text message services. Some applications can read your IMEI number and even send it off to unknown places. If you are not in agreement with the permissions you may want to think about deleting that app.
After getting acquainted with the applications in the smartphone and what they do, the second thing is to use anti-malware and anti-virus software. Many groups make software to do this, but using the best is a good idea. Many of the free anti-malware programs fail reviews and are not worth downloading. Just going through the Android market and downloading a free anti-virus application without reading reviews about it first is probably a disaster in the making.
One trustworthy app that is free to download is from “Lookout Mobile Security”. It has a whopping 15 million users already and has plenty of good reviews from major web sites. Techcrunch dot com calls it one of the top ten best free applications. The Lookout program not only protects against the bad guys, it also does not use much battery power to do so. It has an extra feature that will protect an Android device after it is lost. It is the first “find my phone” application that a smartphone owner can download after their handset is lost.
Other free programs that have good ratings for scanning Android smartphones or tablets are available. They are from “F-Secure” and Kaspersky. Norton has a mobile security solution as well, but their anti-theft portion must be downloaded separately. Norton has the ability to connect the smartphone to the web and track a stolen or lost device every ten minutes.
If the handset or tablet is stolen, the owner can take pictures of the thief using the included Norton features. NQ Mobile Security is another company with high marks. Like some other security programs, they offer suggestions on which applications are safe or not. Whichever you choose, make sure it is not going to be slurping the battery while it works. A dead smartphone is nearly as bad as an infected one.
It is always a good idea to research any Android application before downloading it into your smartphone. If it has been out for any length of time, there should be testimonials for it on the web. Do a quick look around and you will be that much safer.