Five tips for avoiding viruses and malware on your Android

apps danger 300x225 - Five tips for avoiding viruses and malware on your Android

Keeping infected apps off your Android requires common sense more than anything

acu security 0 - Five tips for avoiding viruses and malware on your AndroidIt’s not exactly a secret that Android’s pretty open, and that it’s possible for bad people to do bad things with apps. That’s possible with any computer system, of course. And like any other computer system, Android has checks and balances that help keep you safe. Most of them are done without you having to lift a finger. There are gates that have to be opened for malware to get through, and chances are the bad guys are hoping you’ll hand them the key in the first place.

There are basic steps you can take to help make sure that doesn’t happen.

We’ll walk you through five easy ways for keeping virus- and malware-laden apps off of your Android.

1. If you don’t know what it is, don’t install it

not safe app - Five tips for avoiding viruses and malware on your Android

Treat your apps like you treat your food. Well, like you should treat your food. If you don’t know what it is or where it came from, you might want to think twice about installing it.

It’s not all that unusual to get e-mail with links to an app — but we’d advise against blindly installing full apk files (that’s the file type for Android applications) you receive in email, or maybe are linked to in spammy text messages. Or even that you find in various forums around the Internet. You simply have no way of knowing what’s in there without some serious hackery.

2. Only install from Google Play or other reputable app stores

app stores - Five tips for avoiding viruses and malware on your Android

Where would you rather buy your meat? From a tent on the side of the road? Or from the refrigerated case at the well-known grocery store? You’ve got a far smaller chance at getting food poisoning at one of those places.

Where else do we recommend? The Amazon Appstore, for one. There’s a good bit of duplication between it and Google Play, but you should also be able to download in safety and comfort. Well, in safety, anyway. And Amazon’s always running deals on apps.

What would we avoid? Random download locations on the Internet. App stores that seem too good to be true. Anything that promises scores of paid apps for free (and not in a “deal of the day” sort of situation, ya know?).

3. Protect ya neck: Uncheck “Install from unknown sources”

android unknown sources - Five tips for avoiding viruses and malware on your Android

So, yes. There’s some scary stuff out there. The good news is that, by default, there’s a pretty simple mechanism in place that keeps you protected.

By default, every Android phone that has access to Google Play ships with a lock that keeps applications from outside Google’s store from installing themselves. It’s a safety feature, is all, and not about stifling competition. With that lock in place, you’ll get a warning should an application try to install itself from outside Google Play — whether you initiated it, or not.

Should you need to, disabling that lock is just a matter of ticking the “Unknown sources” box in your security settings. And you’ll need to do it if you want to, say, install the Amazon Appstore.

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What to do if you lose your phone

lost phone android device manager - What to do if you lose your phone

Your Android smartphone is the most personal computer you own. No other device is with you virtually every second of every day, and so over the course of a standard two-year contract you’ll be presented with plenty of opportunities to misplace it.

Fortunately, over the past few years Android has grown has grown into mature, stable mobile OS with an abundance of security features designed to help you out in just such an eventuality. But the solution isn’t entirely technological, and there are a few common sense tips you should follow as well.

Let’s walk through some top precautions to take to better protect your Android phone from loss, along with some tips in the event that you’ve already lost your phone.

How to keep from losing your Android phone, and keep your stuff safe if you do lose it

Want to help protect your phone (and its contents) should it ever become lost? Here are a few simple steps to take to enhance your Android security.

lock security - What to do if you lose your phone

Set up lock screen security

If someone else finds your phone, the only thing standing between them and all your personal data is your lock screen. So setting up robust lock screen security is the first step towards keeping your stuff safe.

On most Android phones you’ll find this option under Settings > Security, or Settings > Lock screen. While some devices support biometric security like “Face unlock,” it’s tough to beat the tried and true pattern or PIN lock. Naturally, the more complex your pin or pattern, the less likely a random person is to get access to your phone.

owner info - What to do if you lose your phone

Set a lock screen owner message

Once you’ve locked down your device, you might also want to give anyone who finds it a way to figure out who it belongs to. Some phones will let you set this under Settings > Security > Owner Info. And while you might not want to offer too much personal info to a potential thief, showing your name here could give honest phone finders a clue to track you down.

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How to password lock your apps and call functions

Security is a central topic for many users. For those who need more than a simple password on their lockscreen, you can go a step further and place a lock on each individual apps. It’s very simple. Here’s how.
applock droid teaser - How to password lock your apps and call functions
© AppLock/AndroidPIT
To protect individual apps or functions on your smartphone against unauthorized access, it doesn’t require any special knowledge or skill. In the Play Store there are many apps that accomplish this task. One example is AppLock.After downloading the two megabyte app and installing it, AppLock has you set up a password. This is then used to open the app itself and is made available for various areas of your smartphone. The setup literally took one minute.
androidpit applock 2 - How to password lock your apps and call functions
Enter a chosen password for apps fo your choice. © AndroidPIT

In the main menu, you will find a list of all the apps on your device and you can then choose which ones are then password protected. For example, I secured my e-mail apps and the picture gallery. Specific phone features can also be locked, like accepting phone calls. In addition, you can select either numeric passwords or unlock patterns. Finally, there are tons of customization options (which in this case are mainly reserved for the paid premium version).

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Guide on how to set up your screen lock

Android provides many ways to lock your phone screen so that others can not use. These settings are available in: Settings — Security — Screen Lock.

Note: Not all methods are safe and fully secure. Here is a quick guide on how to set up your screen lock.

None – Leaves the phone unlocked. Not secure at all
Slide – Slide to un-lock. Any one can unlock. This is not at all hard to guess
Face Unlock – This feature is available only on high end phones. This is not secure enough because anyone who has your photo can unlock it.
Pattern – Provides a basic level of security. Patters are easy to remember. Anyone who is looking over your shoulder can see the pattern and unlock it.
PIN – Medium to high security. You can choose your pin. Pin is only numbers
Password – High security. You can choose an alpha-numeric password that can be hard to crack.



AVG releases free ‘TuneUp’ application for Android devices

Security vendor AVG has released an application for Android that lets users adjust power settings and manage applications to conserve battery power.

TuneUp for Android, which is in Google’s Play store, is free. The power controls can be used to turn off certain phone functions in case the battery is running low as well as monitor the power consumption of applications.

The application’s “Task Killer” shows the applications and services running on a device and lets users stop ones that are consuming a lot of memory, which may also may help an Android device run faster.

Users can set alerts with the “Data Usage” feature so they don’t run over their data limits set by their mobile service provider. The feature lists how much data has been used per application and when the application began consuming data.

The device’s memory can also be monitored. TuneUp for Android shows the amount of internal memory that is being used and the remaining space on an SD card, if the device has one. Applications and utilities can also be deleted using this function to free up memory.

AVG’s application works on devices running Android version 2.1 and higher.

AVG releases free ‘TuneUp’ application for Android devices [via]