Does Your Android Need Antivirus Protection?
I don’t mean to freak you out, but your Android may be under attack. In fact, among all mobile operating systems, Android is the most vulnerable to viruses and malware. This is what a recent study by security company McAfee found.
The report looked at the third quarter of 2011 and found that malware aimed at Android operating systems had increased by nearly 40%. Almost all mobile malware from the last third of the year was designed for Android.
The most common malware targeting Androids are trojans. These are programs that install themselves on your mobile device and send various data to other people without your consent. This data could be something like text messages, phone calls, or anything else you do on your mobile device.
Why is Android under attack? According to the report, it’s because Google doesn’t care much what apps it accepts. Unfortunately, there are lots of shady apps out there that contain malware and other harmful stuff. Hackers know that Google’s easy on this, and this makes your Android an easy target.
So, in answer to the question posed in the title – Yes, you need protection. Experts in the tech world are increasingly seeing Android as the most unstable and insecure mobile operating system. This is partly because unlike other mobile operating systems, it’s an open system. It’s also due to the fact that Android sends out updates much more slowly than other mobile OSes.
However, it should be kept in mind that compared to desktop PCs, mobiles are fairly malware-free. Some folks think that much of this worry is hype. After all, the report was published by McAfee, a company that offers antivirus packages for Androids. There are people in the tech community who believe the company is exploiting the fact that, yes, Android is the most unstable, but it’s really nothing to worry about.
Keeping Your Android Malware Free
Most malware comes from downloading dodgy files and you probably don’t do that on your Android. The fact is that with any mobile malware, it’s difficult for it to spread because we don’t use our mobiles in the same way.
Still, it’s never a bad idea to err on the safe side. Here are some things you can do to keep your Android safe from harm.
Be Careful Where You Download
There are shady mobile apps out there so you should be cautious about where you download them from. Only get them from official sources. File sharing sites like RapidShare are totally unsafe for apps. The app owner can actually alter it once you’ve downloaded to get information from your mobile device.
Get an Anti-Malware Program
You should download your own anti-malware program specifically designed from Android. A few well-known examples are AVG for Android, SmartGuard and Lookout. Once you’ve got it installed, make sure that you upgrade whenever they’re offered.
Read Required Permissions
One other thing that makes Android so vulnerable to attacks is that Android apps have access to your data at a much deeper level. Every app has its own required permissions and you have a chance to read this before you download. Reading these is a must. Usually, you have a chance to read after you hit ‘download’ but before the final ‘accept & download.’ Read carefully and especially avoid any that use GPS.
Even though it’s less likely that your mobile will be attacked, take its security just as seriously as you do your PC’s. The risk is low but there have been attacks and they can cause lots of damage. We can only assume that hackers will target mobiles more and more in the future, since usage is on the increase. Better safe than sorry!