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?



1. hmd74

Posts: 540; Member since: Jan 31, 2013

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

7. vincelongman

Posts: 5690; Member since: Feb 10, 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

66. JakeLee

Posts: 1021; Member since: Nov 02, 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.

69. vincelongman

Posts: 5690; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

I stand corrected lol I have had the cold many times

67. steedsofwar unregistered

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.

8. techspace

Posts: 1037; Member since: Sep 03, 2012

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

22. StraightEdgeNexus

Posts: 3689; Member since: Feb 14, 2014

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

32. techspace

Posts: 1037; Member since: Sep 03, 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 :-)

37. Liveitup

Posts: 1798; Member since: Jan 07, 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.

40. joey_sfb

Posts: 6794; Member since: Mar 29, 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.

43. techspace

Posts: 1037; Member since: Sep 03, 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.

50. AfterShock

Posts: 4146; Member since: Nov 02, 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.

58. techspace

Posts: 1037; Member since: Sep 03, 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.

61. AfterShock

Posts: 4146; Member since: Nov 02, 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.

63. techspace

Posts: 1037; Member since: Sep 03, 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?

29. sar44

Posts: 278; Member since: Apr 14, 2014

If you need to catch the virus: 1. find bad site with virus 2. dowload apk 3. allow all rights also also android L have non google play apps scanner

74. hmd74

Posts: 540; Member since: Jan 31, 2013

No thanks. let it be with u :D

76. Kaiser2007

Posts: 173; Member since: Nov 16, 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".

2. Planterz

Posts: 2120; Member since: Apr 30, 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.

46. 0xFFFF

Posts: 3806; Member since: Apr 16, 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".

3. techspace

Posts: 1037; Member since: Sep 03, 2012

Installing popular apps is the best solution in my 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 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)

4. joey_sfb

Posts: 6794; Member since: Mar 29, 2012

Well written articles. Thank you.

5. fanboy1974

Posts: 1345; Member since: Nov 12, 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.

11. Planterz

Posts: 2120; Member since: Apr 30, 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.

19. AfterShock

Posts: 4146; Member since: Nov 02, 2012

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

23. StraightEdgeNexus

Posts: 3689; Member since: Feb 14, 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

13. Boybawang

Posts: 205; Member since: Jun 02, 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.

17. Planterz

Posts: 2120; Member since: Apr 30, 2012

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

6. StraightEdgeNexus

Posts: 3689; Member since: Feb 14, 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!

9. techspace

Posts: 1037; Member since: Sep 03, 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.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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