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Five tips for avoiding viruses and malware on your Android

H

Harmione

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


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

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"

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 .

5. Yes, you can use a virus scanner if you want.

We get asked this all the time: "Should I use an antivirus app on my phone? Do you use one?"
Some of us here do. Some of us don't. Do you need to? Probably not. Google scans everything that goes through Google Play. It has the ability to check apps that you've sideloaded to your phone. That's not 100 percent foolproof, of course. There have been a few instances of fake antivirus apps being purchased off Google Play. (We'd stress that that's the exception and not the norm.) And there have been plenty of times that antivirus apps cause false positives.
If you're really that worried, then by all means, use an antivirus app. We'd recommend sticking with one of the big names out there. And we'd recommend finding one that has a bunch of extra features, like the ability to locate and wipe your phone if you lose it. (Though that's another feature that Google does for free, too.)
See, it's really not all that hard to avoid malware and viruses on your Android device — never mind what all the fear-mongers say.

Now you know? (y)
 

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