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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76 Comments

75. javy108

Posts: 1004; Member since: Jul 27, 2014

I dont use antivirus C:

72. gigaraga

Posts: 1454; Member since: Mar 29, 2013

But is it strange how sometimes there are games in the Play Store that are registered as 'potential threats' on my antivirus (AVG antivirus BTW). Is it like a mistake? Or are those games legitimately...malware?

73. AfterShock

Posts: 4147; Member since: Nov 02, 2012

AVG probably has issues with them SMS spam/notifications of gold being on sale in game throughout the day. Not so much harmful as annoying and similar to how some malicious programs might behave.

45. SemiFinal

Posts: 117; Member since: Jul 26, 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

49. 0xFFFF

Posts: 3806; Member since: Apr 16, 2014

Of course SwiftKey will prevent you from using the word malware. It doesn't want you to learn what the app really does.

51. AfterShock

Posts: 4147; Member since: Nov 02, 2012

Convenient, no details.

52. 0xFFFF

Posts: 3806; Member since: Apr 16, 2014

"...an Android blog posted step-by-step instructions on how simple it can be to turn a pirated SwiftKey APK into a malicious keylogger." http://swiftkey.com/en/blog/the-dangers-of-pirating-swiftkey/ There is of course, more "non-obvious" stuff about SwiftKey and other keyboard apps, but I'll leave that to find, if you are so inclined.

54. AfterShock

Posts: 4147; Member since: Nov 02, 2012

I was referring to the stock app mentioned above that can't be removed. I realize inherent pitfalls of a keyboard app.

55. avalon2105

Posts: 352; Member since: Jul 12, 2014

I'd really like to know why would somebody pirate an app that is FREE in Google Play. If the link is older than Swiftkey going Freeware just ignore this post.

56. 0xFFFF

Posts: 3806; Member since: Apr 16, 2014

The general idea is still valid. And a lot of people don't like Google Play, or it doesn't work on their phone, etc., so they download apps from other places. Note: I don't like Google Play, but I don't support piracy. I like direct from the developer APK downloads. Google Play is basically just highly invasive spyware pretending to be a store.

57. AfterShock

Posts: 4147; Member since: Nov 02, 2012

Basically, Google has to protect those not liking Google and its store as well? Why'd they choose google again? Tough, but you have choices here, you can choose to use other Eco systems an see how far they protect you outside of their wares or accept what is wrapped in with google. As well, who does not gather information on their own users, you imply its a spy hole, but who is not guilty of that?

68. 0xFFFF

Posts: 3806; Member since: Apr 16, 2014

At least the way I look at it, there are different possibilities in the market. There might be an app store just like Google's that doesn't come with the extensive Google Play code on the phone, just a basic shopping app that downloads apks. And then there is what we have today, where Google Play infiltrates deeply into someone's phone and spies on things, copies things, that have nothing to do with shopping for apps. And without root, the owner of the phone can't control any of it. I don't think Google is responsible for satisfying all market configurations. But they should not outlaw other app stores either. IMO, Google has removed too much consumer choice/potential consumer choice from the market. This is one of the reasons the EU is digging deeper into Google as part of their anti-trust investigation. So it really isn't okay because "the other kids are doing it", i.e. Verizon's specious and false argument for throttling "unlimited" data users after 4.7GB of data. It really is trying to allow multiple choices in the market where consumers can pick something that works for them and allows them to control their own phones.

71. AfterShock

Posts: 4147; Member since: Nov 02, 2012

A basic phone so to speak. So basic its up to end user to dial it in or rely on OEM GUI to control all existence of underlying platform so its unknown? Like the X2 even? Is there a mainstream OS Eco system that does not require user sign in or set up with credentials? I can't imagine what it'd be like to enter creds for every thing, every time I used them. I was unaware of Google blocking other stores from being installed by end user, or do you mean OEM stores? There is again a reflection of the first instance and removing Google from something they've been behind the entire time an rightfully deserve their recognition a little I think. Privacy these days is a fleeting pipe dream if, You use any smart equipment and you share data with it, h3ll your bank leaks your data I bet. How about this, what other system gives you similar functiins/apps/abilityfor less data about and continually on you, I can't name one myself. No one can ride for free really. Ftr, ironically, I despise Facebook for this behavior, and for what a post it wall lol.

33. Totse2k15

Posts: 479; Member since: Feb 11, 2014

I don't use protection.

36. XperiaFanZone

Posts: 2282; Member since: Sep 21, 2012

That's what he said.

31. avalon2105

Posts: 352; Member since: Jul 12, 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.

48. 0xFFFF

Posts: 3806; Member since: Apr 16, 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.

53. avalon2105

Posts: 352; Member since: Jul 12, 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.

20. sprockkets

Posts: 1612; Member since: Jan 16, 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.

14. Will_St.

Posts: 5; Member since: Aug 03, 2014

#SwitchToWindowsPhone

18. XperiaFanZone

Posts: 2282; Member since: Sep 21, 2012

Correction: #SwitchFromAndroid

24. StraightEdgeNexus

Posts: 3689; Member since: Feb 14, 2014

Hehe welcome bro. :)

35. Will_St.

Posts: 5; Member since: Aug 03, 2014

Thanks! Who else is here??

64. StraightEdgeNexus

Posts: 3689; Member since: Feb 14, 2014

No one from gsmarena about you know. :)

65. Will_St.

Posts: 5; Member since: Aug 03, 2014

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

70. StraightEdgeNexus

Posts: 3689; Member since: Feb 14, 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.

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.

10. StraightEdgeNexus

Posts: 3689; Member since: Feb 14, 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.

12. techspace

Posts: 1037; Member since: Sep 03, 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.

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