Android Security: 10 Ways to Protect Your Device From Malware, Theft

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2013-03-21

Android Security: 10 Ways to Protect Your Device From Malware, Theft

Android security is constantly in a state of flux. Despite Google's continued claims that its operating system is secure, it's getting hit hard by malicious hackers around the world who have found countless openings to exploit with malware.

Android has become such a magnet for malware that security firm Trend Micro believes that the amount of malware to hit Android this year could top 1 million threats. In other words, the post-PC malware threat is here, and it's targeting Android.

More and more, Android users are starting to accept that reality. They've found that they're getting hit with malware that causes odd issues with their devices, sends information to the waiting hackers and exposes their sensitive data for the taking. It's a scary world when mobile handsets have become the target of malware writers, but it's an even scarier one when your model is their favorite target. But that's the current state of mobile security.

Rather than focus on the threats themselves, here are some tips on what can be done to improve Android security protection for your device, apps and data.

1. Bring on the apps

One of the best things about the Google Play marketplace is that it's packed with applications security companies have built with one goal in mind: beating malware writers. In order to improve Android security, be sure to download security apps.  There are plenty available, and mSecure Password Manager and Lookout Mobile Security are among the better ones.

2. Set device passwords

One of the worst things Android users can do with their devices is not set passwords. Unfortunately, a large number of users simply do not put simple password protection on their handsets or tablets to make it more difficult for intruders to break into their devices. It's common sense: Android must be password-protected.

3. Stay up on the latest news

It might not be the most obvious bit of advice, but staying up on all the security news about Android is extremely important. Nowadays, it seems there is a new story on Android security each day, and threats keep popping up at an alarming rate. Knowing about those threats and being prepared is extremely important.

4. Surf only to safe sites

According to a recent report from security researchers, one of the leading causes of malware infection in Android is surfing to adult content Websites. It is extremely important that users surf only to safe sites and eschew any of those that might seem a little less-secure. Not doing so would be a huge mistake.

Android Security: 10 Ways to Protect Your Device From Malware, Theft

5. Download apps from respected sources

All smartphone users should try to avoid malicious and compromised mobile apps. That may be easier said than done. But the Google Play marketplace has a solid selection of reputable programs. But some malicious software can slip through the cracks. And because Android is open-source, some users are tempted to download programs from other stores that are not as well-vetted as Google Play. In those cases, watch out.

6. Remember the network

When looking at Android security, folks often forget about the network. How safe is a connection from an Android handset to a corporate network with all kinds of sensitive information? Ensuring that an effective VPN is in use and accessing corporate data only from reputable network resources is absolutely necessary.

7. Tracking is important

Sometimes, Android handsets or tablets can be misplaced. In those cases, it's important to have some type of device-tracking application deployed and accessible on your phone. Tracking allows users to find out where their devices are and, even more importantly, remotely wipe them so those in possession of them can't steal information.

8. Update, update, update

Google periodically releases updates to Android that address bugs and security problems. The trouble is there are quite a few Android users who don't actually update their software. That's a mistake. As soon as updates are made available, they should be applied. Failing to do so leaves users at greater risk.

9. Encryption is always necessary

Encrypting data is just as important as keeping it safely hidden behind a firewall. Encryption means keeping data safe even when the information is in the hands of the wrong person. Several encryption programs are available to Android users, but ensuring that they have the highest level of encryption possible is extremely important.

10. Stop believing you're safe

The mobile malware threat started a several years ago. Yet serious discussions about keeping people safe really only started in 2012. What's worse, the uninformed think that they can do what they want when they want with their Android devices and be just fine. That's just plain wrong. It's time all Android users and users of all types of mobile devices stop thinking they're safe and admit that really bad things can happen.

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