One of the greatest advantages that Android offers over iOS is the ability to install, run, and configure a huge number of apps on your mobile device or tablet. The problem with this freedom, however, is that it opens your device up to a host of potential privacy threats and data loss. Are you worried about how to stay safe on Android? Read on, and worry no more.
Before we begin recommending apps to keep you safe, the best thing we can offer is advice. It’s good advice, so we’re going to break some basic netiquette and put it in bold and underline it too: only install established apps from Google Play or the Amazon Appstore.
Most infections on Android come from malicious apps masquerading as free versions of popular apps that users find posted on forums. Everyone likes to save money, but installing an infected and free copy of Angry Birds Space can cost you more in the long run than the 99c/69p that the app itself would. Also, let’s not forget that piracy is illegal.
With that advice in mind, let’s look at some apps that will help keep your Android browsing experience safe and secure.
A clean Android is a happy (and green) Android
Sophos Mobile Security (free) – Although studies have shown that most malware scanners for Android have relatively low detection rates, Sophos features up-to-the-minute updates and will scan apps as you install them to alert you to a potential threat. As an added bonus, it can also check all previously installed apps (on your device and SD cards) against its database if you suspect something is amiss.
AdBlock Plus (free) – This app keeps you safe in a bit of a roundabout manner. Misleading ads are still a popular way for malware authors to force their software on unsuspecting or inattentive users. AdBlock Plus combats this threat by preventing ads from appearing on pages that you load. Installing AdBlock Plus will also speed up your browsing experience and save some battery life by removing ads from a page’s load times.
Seal ($2.45) – Local security is as important as virtual security, and Seal provides an extra layer of password protection by giving you the option to lock (or seal, if you will…) apps with a password or pattern-based lock. If you’re worried that your children might get into your Gmail or you want to protect your photos from a nosy friend, Seal’s value becomes quickly apparent.
GadgetTrak ($19.95/yearly) – The ultimate in local and virtual security, GadgetTrak allows you to track a lost phone or tablet and manage the data on it remotely via GPS or wireless positioning. Additionally, if you have sensitive data stored on your tablet and want to encrypt it or wipe it from the device entirely, GadgetTrak is your go-to app. GadgetTrak is the app that you hope you’ll never have to use but you’ll be happy to have it if you need it.