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Your Android smartphone is under threat; How to know if you really need help

Google recently revealed that there are three billion active Android devices globally — here's how you can keep yours safe.
Google recently revealed that there are three billion active Android devices globally — here's how you can keep yours safe. (Pexels)

More and more Android smartphones are getting targeted by hackers. There is an ever-present danger to users. Increasingly, they are being asked to take action to stop malicious software. So, what should they do? Here’s how to take care of the problem.

With over 3 million apps on the Google Play Store, Android smartphone users have a large selection of applications to choose from. There are even more options available as the ability to ‘sideload’ apps allows users to install others outside the store. While this opens up the possibility of even more apps available to Android smartphone owners, there is a considerable risk of getting infected with malware that can steal data from these devices, that have access to our most private information. The threat is real and immediate for Android smartphone users.

Read more: Apple's Cook says proposed EU tech rules threaten security of iPhones

Over the years, malicious software has made its way from personal computers to smartphones and other portable devices like tablets – one of the reasons is the rise in popularity of Google’s Android operating system, which now counts over 3 billion active devices according to the company. Malware has evolved from stealing personal data to ransomware - a program that encrypts personal data and locks a device demanding a ‘ransom’ from users to gain access to their data again.

According to security companies, the answer is antivirus software for Android devices. They promise to keep users safe, but is it worth downloading an antivirus program on your Android smartphone?

What are the types of Android malware?

Malware can come in several forms, such as adware, which steals personal information, while displaying obtrusive ads on your phone screen such as loud sounds or full-screen videos. Another form of malware is the one that spreads through malicious websites where users may download an infected app that can access their data once relevant permissions are granted. Other malware can lock up your personal data for a ‘ransom’ amount or slow down your phone by running ‘cryptocurrency’ mining software.

Do I really need antivirus on my Android?

With over 3 million apps on the Play Store, Google is already doing the job of protecting Android users through its own Google Play Protect plan, which scans apps that are installed from the Play Store, as well as apps that are installed from third-party stores. However, sometimes well-crafted malware is able to sneak past even Google’s detection mechanisms, which is why it might make sense to download a third-party antivirus app for your Android smartphone. 

Also read: Here are the top five free antivirus software for your Windows 10 PC or laptop

Meanwhile, if you run a smartphone that doesn’t come with Google Services (some Chinese smartphones and devices with custom ROMs) then you will not have Google Play Protect, which means a third-party antivirus app could be your safest bet against malware on your smartphone.

How to choose Android antivirus app?

A good place to start researching which antivirus app is best for your smartphone is to visit a third party website like AV-Comparatives. These can offer neutral insights into each security solution, based on its tests. You can choose from various well-known vendors, depending on the protection you need for your Android device. An important thing to remember when picking an antivirus app for your smartphone is that there is no silver bullet that will protect you from all threats, and users will still need to be vigilant while downloading and installing apps around the web.

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