How to avoid the threat of Android malware

depositphotos 83601854 - How to avoid the threat of Android malware

Unfortunately, even these apps can only do so much, as the technology within them is much simpler than what runs their Windows counterparts. And most apps merely detect when you download or install an app, then compare its digital signature against a database of known malicious apps. If the app is on that list, the antivirus will alert you and ask that you remove the app. This simple approach doesn’t make antivirus apps very compelling, even when you factor in the virtual private networks, call blockers, and other extra features some offer.

The best security is to avoid malware altogether

So Android malware is real and not all antivirus apps are total scams, but do you actually need protection? Well, experts are somewhat split on the issue.

While the risk of infection is low in the U.S., Clementi says it never hurts to be proactive in case the situation changes. Google itself, however, has railed against antivirus apps in the past. In 2014, for example, Google’s then-lead security engineer for Android said there was “no reason” to install an antivirus app because the risk was low and Google’s built-in protections were strong enough. Antivirus manufacturers fired back, scoffing at the notion and pointing to third-party app stores used across the globe (and a few pieces of malware that have, despite Google’s protections, snuck into Google Play).

Unfortunately, most people taking part in the discussion have some sort of skin in the game, so it’s hard to know who’s opinion to trust.

There is one thing all experts agree on, though: your first and main line of defence should be common sense and good security practices.

“Only download apps from official app stores like Google Play, or stores of reputable app makers and avoid third-party stores and side-loading,” Clementi says.

Of course, Google Play still hosts some bad apps while third-party sites may offer trustworthy downloads. The most important thing is to download apps built by well-known developers and companies you trust. And never, ever, pirate apps from sketchy sites, as these are often dangerous.


By Whitson Gordon

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