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Android antivirus tutorial: how to keep your phone safe from malware

Posted: , by Victor H.

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Android antivirus tutorial: how to keep your phone safe from malware

Google’s Android operating system has reached global dominance with an 85% market share, but security researchers are often saying that this popularity is also the reason why most of the mobile malware targets Android squarely.

Luckily, Android is made with security being a top priority, using a model called ‘sandboxing’ where each app has a limited domain it can have influence on. Plus, each app is granted permissions that further limit its (potentially) malicious intents.

Combine this safe model with having a Google Play Store which is monitored for malicious apps, and you are not in a huge risk. However, steer away from those safe havens, and you’re in the wild wild west - with millions of APKs that are not checked for viruses, and plenty of other treats that some are willing to exploit. So what should you do to keep your Android phone or tablet safe from viruses?

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posted on 09 Aug 2014, 06:39 10

1. hmd74 (Posts: 334; Member since: 31 Jan 2013)


Just install any app u want. there's no virus :D

posted on 09 Aug 2014, 07:51 12

7. vincelongman (Posts: 1314; Member since: 10 Feb 2013)


Agreed, I've never gotten a virus or malware
Even before when I used to pirate everything (music, movies, games, tv, videos) on my Windows XP PC

Also I dont know anyone who actually gotten a virus or malware on Android or iOS or WP
As long as you stick with the Play Store/Amazon Store or AppStore or Windows Store you should be fine

posted on 09 Aug 2014, 15:32 2

66. JakeLee (banned) (Posts: 1021; Member since: 02 Nov 2013)


No virus *you are aware of*

Lethal viruses like ebola are failures. "Successful" viruses don't kill the hosts. The hosts usually aren't even aware of their presences.

posted on 09 Aug 2014, 18:19

69. vincelongman (Posts: 1314; Member since: 10 Feb 2013)


I stand corrected lol
I have had the cold many times

posted on 09 Aug 2014, 16:37 2

67. steedsofwar (Posts: 288; Member since: 07 Oct 2013)


Same here guys. Nonsense FUD mostly coming from Apple and the antivirus companies who benefit from the fear mongering. Dangers do exist, as they do on ALL platforms and the internet in general. But the android virus rep is overplayed.

posted on 09 Aug 2014, 07:53

8. techspace (Posts: 695; Member since: 03 Sep 2012)


There are malicious android apps...and its a good thing for the developers

posted on 09 Aug 2014, 09:07 5

22. StraightEdgeNexus (Posts: 3418; Member since: 14 Feb 2014)


Last time I checked, you were a WP fan, so I'm starting to doubt your statements...

posted on 09 Aug 2014, 09:41 2

32. techspace (Posts: 695; Member since: 03 Sep 2012)


lol...that's okay, i was also called an ios and a samsung fanboy in the past.
some other day, a wp fan may call me an android fanboy...when you are unbiased, you will be criticized :-)

posted on 09 Aug 2014, 10:17 1

37. Liveitup (Posts: 1330; Member since: 07 Jan 2014)


Regardless if he is a fan or not which I am also its a fact that due to Androids open source nature combined with its popularity that it is no 1 target for being attacked with viruses across mobile platforms.

posted on 09 Aug 2014, 10:47 3

40. joey_sfb (Posts: 3003; Member since: 29 Mar 2012)


Please read the article before making a comment.

Windows 8.1 say that proprietary can also has the same amount of viruses and malware. In fact I learned how to protect my PC with antivirus and lavasoft adware in my early PC computing days.

In fact with Android popularity I am surprise that it's still relatively safe without the need of anti malware app. If I don't have protection on my pc it will be dead within weeks depending on the sites I visit.

posted on 09 Aug 2014, 10:51 1

43. techspace (Posts: 695; Member since: 03 Sep 2012)


android is the main target because you are allowed to download apps from anywhere, with freedom comes responsibility.
but there are people(android fanboys) who still deny the existence of android malware all together...if they really like android and if they really want to help someone who is new to android, they should tell them how to avoid such apps instead of misleading them.

posted on 09 Aug 2014, 12:07 3

50. AfterShock (Posts: 2812; Member since: 02 Nov 2012)


You have to check allow installs from unknown sources to allow the situation you are suggesting a new user would be doing or get into.
Clearly it warns you, an clearly you ignore responsibility for your own actions.

Who is misleading anyone other then you and your own promiscuous actions?

Good grief that's weak.

posted on 09 Aug 2014, 13:35 1

58. techspace (Posts: 695; Member since: 03 Sep 2012)


but if everyone says that there aren't any malicious android apps, then people will think that google is only warning because they want them to download everything from the play store which is not true...the apps from the other sources may or may not be malicious.

posted on 09 Aug 2014, 13:50

61. AfterShock (Posts: 2812; Member since: 02 Nov 2012)


Half a dozen of one an six of another.
The defaults are safe, to venture outside is generally safe, caveat emptor beyond store though.
Same for all Eco systems though right.

posted on 09 Aug 2014, 14:05

63. techspace (Posts: 695; Member since: 03 Sep 2012)


what are you trying to say?...are you trying to say that it is the same for every os that allows you to install apps from anywhere?

posted on 09 Aug 2014, 09:28 3

29. sar44 (Posts: 248; Member since: 14 Apr 2014)


If you need to catch the virus:
1. find bad site with virus
2. dowload apk
3. allow all rights
also
http://www.ubergizmo.com/2014/07/androids-security-chief-thinks-anti-virus-apps-are-unnecessary/
also android L have non google play apps scanner

posted on 10 Aug 2014, 07:12

74. hmd74 (Posts: 334; Member since: 31 Jan 2013)


No thanks. let it be with u :D

posted on 20 Aug 2014, 22:29

76. Kaiser2007 (Posts: 153; Member since: 16 Nov 2013)


My Android4.2 has "Verify App". It's in pic #3. Author talked about "Unknown Sources", but didn't say anything about "Verify App".

posted on 09 Aug 2014, 06:46 11

2. Planterz (Posts: 892; Member since: 30 Apr 2012)


The best antivirus is your brain.

There's plenty of "unofficial" apps that are perfectly safe and malware free. Lucky Patcher, TubeMate, AdAway, apps ported from one phone to others, etc. Just make sure you're downloading it from the app's site or a mirror linked there

I've pirated plenty of games, but only as a "demo". Especially large games. You don't want to plunk down $6.99 on a game, take 20 minutes to download it, only to find that it's not compatible with your device but Google only gives you 15 minutes to get a refund (Backstab, I'm looking at you). But if it works and I like it, I'll buy it.

posted on 09 Aug 2014, 11:53

46. 0xFFFF (Posts: 3309; Member since: 16 Apr 2014)


This is true, but the brain doesn't really work that well. Many apps steal your data and do the same very things that "malware" is supposed to do. So it is easy for the brain to think it is avoiding "malware" but in some cases, it really isn't.

In reality, "malware" is just a false dichotomy, an existential boogyman, to make people think that apps in the Google Play store are "safe" and to make them buy all sorts of "anti-virus" apps for protection against "unknown threats".

posted on 09 Aug 2014, 07:01

3. techspace (Posts: 695; Member since: 03 Sep 2012)


Installing popular apps is the best solution in my view...you cannot guarantee that every app in the play store is safe and there are some safe apps (like adblock) that are not available in the play store
I think malwarebytes and clean master can detect most of the infected apps...so install them and download apps from any source( provided that the app or the game is downloaded many times from the same source and the comments are positive)

posted on 09 Aug 2014, 07:27 2

4. joey_sfb (Posts: 3003; Member since: 29 Mar 2012)


Well written articles. Thank you.

posted on 09 Aug 2014, 07:46 5

5. fanboy1974 (Posts: 1242; Member since: 12 Nov 2011)


I don't know what's worst phonearena; malware or those damn ads that keep popping up blocking my view when I visit on my phone.
How about tell everybody how to block those silly ads. Or release a app like Engadget and theverge. I would even buy the freaking app to support you guys.

Edit: Funny; after hitting submit a damn ad popped up.

posted on 09 Aug 2014, 08:39 2

11. Planterz (Posts: 892; Member since: 30 Apr 2012)


If you're rooted, AdAway, Ad Block Plus, Lucky Patcher or any number of other ad blockers. They all work the same way and use the same source lists. I haven't seen an ad from PA on my devices (or computer) for ages.

I understand that many of the sites we visit and love get revenue from ads, but those translucent pop-over ads are the worst when you're on a mobile device, especially the ones that recenter themselves, making them nearly impossible to close. If I didn't have AdAway on all my devices, I'd probably never bother visiting this site except on my computer.

posted on 09 Aug 2014, 09:02 1

19. AfterShock (Posts: 2812; Member since: 02 Nov 2012)


I get no pop up ads using chrome mobile here at PA.
Static yes, but that's OK IMO.

posted on 09 Aug 2014, 09:12 2

23. StraightEdgeNexus (Posts: 3418; Member since: 14 Feb 2014)


Well I've never used adblocks past decade, nor on chrome desktop or in mobile browsers. I can give them a bit credit for their work, but ads on phonearena were so annoying, that I just couldn't stand and installed adblock :D

posted on 09 Aug 2014, 08:45 1

13. Boybawang (Posts: 45; Member since: 02 Jun 2013)


That happens on my tablet too! A halfscreen popup just appear anytime where I always have to hit the big X to close it. Worse is there's no way to determine which app is responsible for it.

posted on 09 Aug 2014, 08:59 1

17. Planterz (Posts: 892; Member since: 30 Apr 2012)


It's not an app, it's the website.

posted on 09 Aug 2014, 07:47 8

6. StraightEdgeNexus (Posts: 3418; Member since: 14 Feb 2014)


Using android for more than 3 years, I've never installed any antivirus app crap, and never came across any security problem. Such an overrated problem which doesn't even exists!

posted on 09 Aug 2014, 08:06

9. techspace (Posts: 695; Member since: 03 Sep 2012)


I think you don't install apps from unknown sources...malwarebytes regularly detects malicious apk files...sometimes even google warns us while installing some unrecognized malicious apps.
And I think its a good thing( for the developers) because if there is no malware then(almost) all the users will install cracked apps and games.

posted on 09 Aug 2014, 08:32 7

10. StraightEdgeNexus (Posts: 3418; Member since: 14 Feb 2014)


Ever heard of Google's verify and install feature?
While I download apks from internet sometimes (when play store has problems, mostly slow connections), I have never came across malware BS except that annoying mobogenie crap. And no I don't download apks of paid apps. I'm against piracy.

posted on 09 Aug 2014, 08:40

12. techspace (Posts: 695; Member since: 03 Sep 2012)


Yes...but google verify and install doesn't help me every time...malwarebytes was more helpful in my case...even the malicious apk files that are not installed can be detected and deleted from the app itself.

posted on 09 Aug 2014, 08:51

15. techspace (Posts: 695; Member since: 03 Sep 2012)


I have never had connectivity issues with the play store...I depend on unknown sources to download the apps that are not available in the play store.
1mobile market is the only third party android app store in which I didn't find any malware( i don't have the amazon app store)

posted on 09 Aug 2014, 09:16

26. StraightEdgeNexus (Posts: 3418; Member since: 14 Feb 2014)


No its my connection problem here sometimes :)

posted on 09 Aug 2014, 09:29

30. techspace (Posts: 695; Member since: 03 Sep 2012)


slow internet?

posted on 09 Aug 2014, 09:18 1

27. AfterShock (Posts: 2812; Member since: 02 Nov 2012)


Unknown sources?
No wonder you NEED Malwarebytes.

Change your needs.

posted on 09 Aug 2014, 09:27

28. techspace (Posts: 695; Member since: 03 Sep 2012)


if there are programs that can detect and delete malicious files, why should i change my needs?
malware in windows(desktop os) also comes from unrecognized and unpopular sources...just like android, but that doesn't stop us from installing programs from unknown sources, we use antivirus software instead..

posted on 09 Aug 2014, 10:27

38. AfterShock (Posts: 2812; Member since: 02 Nov 2012)


Well, you have the option to do that.

posted on 09 Aug 2014, 10:40

39. techspace (Posts: 695; Member since: 03 Sep 2012)


exactly....and StraightEdgeNexus thinks that i am a windows phone fan...if i say that android has malware but there are programs which can detect those malicious apps so you can download apps from many other sources, it is an anti android statement.

posted on 09 Aug 2014, 10:47

41. AfterShock (Posts: 2812; Member since: 02 Nov 2012)


No one said you had to stay in the garden here like other OS systems.
Its just preference that most do an have little to no issues ever.
But the Malware you mention, is not present in play store, an when it gets in, it doesn't last long usually before its removed.
So the part some have issue with is, Android has malware. Outside of normal practices sure an like you said, even if Verify doesn't catch the bad stuff you deliberately installed, there are apps like you mentioned that will help with promiscuous users still.

posted on 09 Aug 2014, 11:02

44. techspace (Posts: 695; Member since: 03 Sep 2012)


i said there are malicious android apps...which is true isn't it?
if you don't want to make use of the openness of android,then what is the use of having an android device?

posted on 09 Aug 2014, 11:56

47. AfterShock (Posts: 2812; Member since: 02 Nov 2012)


Do you think Android is just apps?

posted on 09 Aug 2014, 13:40

59. techspace (Posts: 695; Member since: 03 Sep 2012)


and when did i say that android is just apps?....but apps do play a more important role in android experience when compared to the other operating systems(in the form of launchers, custom icons, keyboards, widgets, live wallpapers etc).

posted on 09 Aug 2014, 13:47

60. AfterShock (Posts: 2812; Member since: 02 Nov 2012)


I thought that was your implied thought.
True its a large part, but android lured me because I could alter it without apps for the most part to my liking.
Its open to change.

posted on 09 Aug 2014, 13:59

62. techspace (Posts: 695; Member since: 03 Sep 2012)


i said that there are malicious android apps but they can be detected and uninstalled by anti malware programs...that's it(or atleast, that's what happened in my case)
i am not saying that android itself is a malware or that android is just apps(having said that, i don't think that there is any popular os without a backdoor).

posted on 09 Aug 2014, 09:06 1

21. AfterShock (Posts: 2812; Member since: 02 Nov 2012)


Same experience here.

posted on 09 Aug 2014, 08:49 2

14. Will_St. (Posts: 5; Member since: 03 Aug 2014)


#SwitchToWindowsPhone

posted on 09 Aug 2014, 09:02

18. XperiaFanZone (Posts: 1396; Member since: 21 Sep 2012)


Correction: #SwitchFromAndroid

posted on 09 Aug 2014, 09:13 2

24. StraightEdgeNexus (Posts: 3418; Member since: 14 Feb 2014)


Hehe welcome bro. :)

posted on 09 Aug 2014, 10:04

35. Will_St. (Posts: 5; Member since: 03 Aug 2014)


Thanks! Who else is here??

posted on 09 Aug 2014, 14:18 1

64. StraightEdgeNexus (Posts: 3418; Member since: 14 Feb 2014)


No one from gsmarena about you know. :)

posted on 09 Aug 2014, 15:06 1

65. Will_St. (Posts: 5; Member since: 03 Aug 2014)


This comment sections UI is Sh*t compared to Disqus. Is the quality of the comments like BGR or PocketNow?

posted on 09 Aug 2014, 21:31 2

70. StraightEdgeNexus (Posts: 3418; Member since: 14 Feb 2014)


True true. This looks ancient compared to disqus. But atleast its better than gsmarena's news section.
And I've visited BGR comments few times, those i$heeps are pathetic. Didn't get the bgr quality, and pocketnow is just no fun, no upvotes, commentators don't upload funny gifs and memes, its too boring. Speaking of phonearena, get ready for the level of hatred and negativity, troll is in the scent of air LOL.

posted on 09 Aug 2014, 09:04 1

20. sprockkets (Posts: 1236; Member since: 16 Jan 2012)


With ahole companies like this securing ourselves from the man may be beyond difficult.

http://www.propublica.org/documents/item/1264116-finfisher-internal-newsletter-jul-2011.html#document/p5/a170859

Jerks like gamma group should be destroyed.

posted on 09 Aug 2014, 09:30 1

31. avalon2105 (Posts: 92; Member since: 12 Jul 2014)


I think the whole virus scare is so over exaggerated and isn't something people should change their habits for. I've been running Windows 7 on my laptop without AV since 2010. and never had any virus issues. I've even heard people claim they don't pirate music or movies because they are scared they will get their PC infected when the chance of that happening is 0. On the other hand I had ridiculous amount of false detections before when I used AV software. At first I thought it was cracks for pirated games but when it started detecting games purchased through Steam as malware i decided to never use AV again.

posted on 09 Aug 2014, 11:57

48. 0xFFFF (Posts: 3309; Member since: 16 Apr 2014)


Yep, you woke up to the scam. Once you wake up, participatation in the "malware protection racket" is optional.

The real "malware" is bad app behavior by normal apps, i.e. data theft, recording pictures of you without permission, recording audio without permission, stealing passwords, etc. This is what Google and others don't want people to think about.

And the only simple thing that you can do to guard yourself against bad app behavior (which is in most Google Play apps) is to get something like XPrivacy. This helps, but is not a complete preventative.

posted on 09 Aug 2014, 12:37 1

53. avalon2105 (Posts: 92; Member since: 12 Jul 2014)


Well, through the early 00s I really needed an AV on XP, but now M$ really patched most of security holes and W7 is able to run without any AV with minimal risk of getting a virus. Than again, not even the best AV is going to help you if you keep trying to execute that HotJapaneseGirlWaitingForYou.msc inside your System32 folder.
Like couple of people already mentioned, not being a complete retard is the best and only AV you need. And considering the amount of pirated games I downloaded I would have caught something if the viruses were such a big threat.

posted on 09 Aug 2014, 09:58 1

33. Totse2k15 (Posts: 272; Member since: 11 Feb 2014)


I don't use protection.

posted on 09 Aug 2014, 10:10

36. XperiaFanZone (Posts: 1396; Member since: 21 Sep 2012)


That's what he said.

posted on 09 Aug 2014, 11:46

45. SemiFinal (Posts: 57; Member since: 26 Jul 2014)


I scanned for malware (SwiftKey doesn't know how to spell it lol) and it showed that a stock app has so I can't get rid of it. Also lmfao at 3

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