Viruses and malware used to be something that computers had to worry about, but these days, they’re just as likely to infect your smartphone or tablet. The best way to keep your Android device safe from viruses and hacker is to keep it protected on all fronts, but there are also some handy apps that you can download that will help boost your security.
This guide will walk you through the steps of preventing viruses and hackers on your Android device, plus supply links to the most effective apps you can use in the future if you need them.
Tips to Secure your Android from hacker and Viruses
Keep it updated
The newest operating systems are often packed with security enhancements, meaning it’s more important than ever to update your software. Make sure you’re keeping all your devices current—and that goes for desktop computers and laptops as well as smartphones and tablets.
If an update is available, make sure you download it right away; otherwise, don’t connect your device to an unsecured Wi-Fi network or public charging station.
If you do fall victim to a virus, don’t panic. First, consider trying a trusted antivirus app. If that doesn’t work, go into your settings and factory reset your phone.
Don’t click links in emails
People are naturally suspicious of links in emails, so most phishing emails don’t have any. Phishing works through social engineering; it’s not enough for a malicious person to simply know your username and password—they need you to give it up willingly.
However, a legitimate business will never ask for passwords or financial information via email, which means that even if you do accidentally click on a link in an email from your bank (which is just someone spoofing that domain), there won’t be any harm done.
Just cut those phishing emails and move on with your day. Don’t risk a hacked account—always go directly to sites like your bank or PayPal and log in there instead of clicking links.
Use an anti-virus program
The most important way to protect yourself from viruses on an Android is with anti-virus software. While some people claim that viruses don’t exist for mobile devices, it’s simply not true, and if you’re using an Android phone or tablet, it’s a clever idea to download a solid anti-virus program.
These programs will scan your apps, files, and email for malicious content in real time.
The best antivirus programs will scan for harmful apps and check your device for any suspicious activity. However, most of these apps only work if you download a full system scan at least once a week.
In addition, be sure to install a password management app. These programs make it easier for you to control access to sensitive apps and services, and often function as an added line of defence against malicious attacks.
Update the anti-virus program
Using anti-virus software is often seen as an essential part of a computer’s protection. On mobile devices, though, such programs aren’t typically used because Google Play Protect is a built-in solution that protects against malicious apps.
Since it’s highly unlikely you’ll be downloading any malware on an app store like Google Play, consider relying on that first line of defence. If you do still choose to use an anti-virus program, take time to update it regularly so that all vulnerabilities are covered. That will help you prevent any unnecessary intrusions on your smartphone or tablet.
Set complex passwords
Android devices are a popular target for cybercriminals, but you can make it much harder for them to succeed by setting complex passwords. Hackers will often use brute force hacking tools to crack passwords—which involves guessing as many different combinations of letters and numbers as possible.
If you choose a simple password, like 1234 or 123456, it could be guessed within seconds; more complicated strings of letters and numbers (with symbols) would take months or years. Therefore, it’s important to choose strong passwords that aren’t easily guessable; not only does it make them harder for cybercriminals to hack into your account, but it also prevents random people from gaining access either.
Be careful of what you install
The easiest way to get a virus on your phone is by downloading malicious apps—either off Google Play or through unsolicited links sent via email, SMS, or instant messaging. Malicious apps can steal data, gain control of your camera, drain battery life, and so on. If you do choose to download an app outside of Google Play, use a virtual private network (VPN) to better protect yourself.
In general, avoid apps that are poorly rated and don’t have reviews written by other users. Also be sure to check out how many downloads each app has before installing it. If it’s got millions of downloads, there’s a good chance it’s legit; if it only has 10-100 downloads, steer clear.
Don’t visit unsecured websites
If you want to keep your data, don’t visit websites that aren’t encrypted (or those with a http:// in front of their URL). You should also avoid public Wi-Fi, as it isn’t secure. Instead, use a VPN service or connect via mobile data. For example, visit sites like Google and Facebook via https:// instead of http://; all communication with https-enabled websites is encrypted by default.
Lock all sensitive apps and data
Setting a lock screen password on your phone isn’t enough; many malicious apps can bypass them, including those which claim to be antivirus software. Instead, it’s best to keep all sensitive apps and data on another storage partition altogether, which can be locked with a different password. You should also disable USB debugging if you don’t need it.
Both steps can make it difficult for an attacker to access sensitive files on your phone over USB or Wi-Fi networks. Be aware that some OEM versions of Android only allow certain partitions or folders to be encrypted with a pin or password, not all partitions and folders like third-party ROMs and some applications do.