There are more than 3.1 million applications for Android devices in the Google Play Store alone, ranging from playful candle simulators to serious day trading platforms. And while most of these apps can be yours for free, you shouldn’t be complacent and install just about any Android software on your mobile device. After all, malicious apps have been around for years now and downloading these can lead to the loss or exposure of any private data stored in your phone or tablet.
When is an Android app safe to use?
Some people think that being in the official app store is sufficient confirmation that an Android app is secure. This is generally — but not completely — true. Apps in the Play Store go through Google’s tight security vetting process, but some bad apples make it past scrutiny. Hundreds of malicious apps, including banking Trojans and malware, have been found in the Play Store over the years. In fact, some sources now consider it the main distributor of malicious mobile applications.
Whether you download from the Play Store or third-party sources, such as the Samsung Galaxy Store and the Amazon Appstore, you can confirm that your Android app is secure by looking at these elements:
Before you download, have a careful look at the app page and look for screenshots and description of the software. Examine these for grammar and spelling errors. Some apps are, of course, made by non-native English speakers, so these lapses are not always a sign that the software is unsafe. But if the app presents itself as coming from a well-known brand, such as a prominent American bank, then grammar and spelling mistakes could be a sign that you’re looking at a fake app.
The app page contains many informative details, such as the publish or “Updated on” date and the number of downloads, that are often ignored. Inconsistencies in these areas are indicative of a fake app. For example, if the Skype app you’re downloading says it was published in December 2020 or has 10,000 downloads, then it’s likely fake. Skype has been around for years and has at least a billion downloads.
If the app you’re aiming to download isn’t well-known, you can look for information about its developers. In most cases, you’ll find the devs’ website or contact details in the app page. If these are not available, you can search for them on Google. Check out if they've made other apps before and how these were received by users. These will, more or less, give you an idea if the creators and their app are trustworthy or not.
The app page also shows which permissions the app requires to function properly. Some apps will ask for access to your contacts, camera, or SD card. Ask yourself if the permissions make sense. For instance, it’s reasonable for a bike app to access your location, but the same isn’t true for a memo app. If any app appears to be intrusive, it’s likely to be unsafe.
User reviews on the app page can tell you much about the software’s quality and security. However, bear in mind that fake reviews are as real an issue as malicious applications, so be careful which feedback you take into account.
How can you protect your device from malicious apps?
Even if you’re careful, you might unwittingly download malware or dangerous apps. Installing Google Play Protect will help secure your device from mobile threats. You can also download Android safety apps designed to prevent malware from infecting your device. These apps can also scan for existing malware and remove them from your phone or tablet.
With mobile devices now a regular part of our personal and professional lives, it has become crucial to ensure that they are protected from malicious apps and other cyberthreats. At [company_IT], we can provide recommendations on how to maximize the security of your mobile devices.