Android is regularly discredited when security researchers have discovered a new leak in the operating system. But how do you protect your Android smartphone, and what can you do about dangerous apps?
We explain it all in our Android security guide. No Fluff Tech will give you the reviews about various android devices.
Why do you need to protect your Android Smartphone?
Your smartphone is full of personal, important information. From private photos to your bank details to your passwords: if there is one device that knows almost all your secrets, then it is your cell phone.
That is why it is so important that your Android smartphone is well protected.
Although Google, manufacturers and hardware makers do everything they can to make Android as safe as possible, it unfortunately happens regularly that malicious parties seize private information.
Sometimes because an app suddenly appears to have a security vulnerability, but often enough because users use bad passwords or even do not protect their data at all. By protecting your smartphone and paying attention to potential dangers yourself, you are much better protected.
In this Android security guide, we go through some of the most common dangers with you, from dangerous apps to unreliable emails.
We also discuss the best ways to secure your smartphone.
Is a PIN code enough, or do you still need to work with a VPN, two-factor authentication and encryption? We explain it to you in this guide.
We also refer you to more extensive articles on specific topics, if you want to know more about a specific theme.
How do I recognize a dangerous Android app?
Almost all apps can be downloaded via the Play Store. You can now find more than two million applications there.
Although Google continuously scans all apps for potential dangers, it unfortunately happens regularly that malware appears in the Play Store. You need to be careful about this, because such an app can watch what you are doing on your smartphone, or send passwords in secret.
The vast majority of all apps in the Play Store are secure. The chance that you will suddenly download a virus instead of WhatsApp is therefore minimal.
The main thing is to use common sense. If an app promises things that are too good to be true, don’t put it on your smartphone.
If there are weird images, unreadable text in poor English or Dutch, or other questionable content, then you should at least thoroughly check before you start downloading.
How do Android app permissions work?
Once an app is on your smartphone, Android has several ways to protect you. You must give explicit permission for the various parts of your device. These are called the ‘permissions’.
If you open an app for the first time, or if you try out a specific function, a pop-up appears to ask for the authorization.
For example, WhatsApp needs access to your camera to take photos, while Facebook wants to see your contacts to add more friends. But if a flashlight app asks for permission to send text messages, it’s better to refuse.
Also, a news app usually does not need access to your microphone. When in doubt, simply refuse even if it is a secure app.
The app often continues to function normally, but some functions are not available.
Do I have to install an antivirus app on my Android smartphone?
Unfortunately, Google Play Protect is not a perfect virus scanner. A study by AV-Test showed that the service only stops around 70 percent of all malware.
Google is doing everything it can to increase that percentage, and if you mainly download from the Play Store, you’ll stay pretty safe.
Many users probably already need the built-in virus recognition of most Android smartphones.
Still, it doesn’t hurt to download another antivirus app to boost your protection.
But beware: use a reliable app, because with shady antivirus software you only run more risk.
Two of our favorites are ESET and Bitdefender.
What are Android security updates?
Every software has vulnerabilities, it is almost impossible to prevent that. Android runs on thousands of different smartphones, tablets and other devices.
Android needs to be adjusted for all those devices, and sometimes something goes wrong. That is why Google releases monthly updates to address these vulnerabilities.
These Android security updates are always released by Google in the first week of the month.
A few minor vulnerabilities in all parts of the software are usually addressed before hackers have been able to exploit these vulnerabilities. It is then up to manufacturers to roll out these updates for their smartphones.
Manufacturers are not required to release these security updates on a monthly basis. Many do, however.
Samsung, Nokia and Sony, among others, release almost monthly updates for almost all their devices.
As a rule, more expensive smartphones receive an update every month for two or even three years after the release.
If you go for a cheaper device of less than 300 euros, the update usually appears only once per quarter.
Android Planet lists all the updates that have appeared every week, so keep an eye on us.