Everyone loves free apps, especially Android users (phones and tablets). While most of these apps are legitimate, the number of free Android apps that are actually malware keeps increasing. Android users are more at risk than iPhone and iPad users because the the Android market is much more open than Apple’s. This means more choices, but also more risk.
Tips for Safe Android App Downloading:
1. Read the online reviews. Android Market reviews can also be written by the developer to push their product, so they may not always be truthful. Check other users reviews or reputable website reviews before downloading.
2. Research the developer of the app. What other apps do they offer? Do any of them look a bit shady? If so, you should probably stay away.
3. Check the app permissions. When you download an app, you get a list of permissions it asks for. Look for ones that don’t make sense. For instance, a weather app doesn’t need to look through your contacts. So a good rule to keep is: If an app is asking for more than what it needs to do its job, you should skip it.
4. Avoid directly installing Android Package files (APKs) you may find at “non-market websites”. APK is the file format for Android installer programs. Although in some cases they may be fine (e.g. your bank’s mobile app), it’s still a good idea not to download such files.
5. Put an Anti-Malware and/or Antivirus program on your phone. Several big-name security companies now offer mobile-security apps, many of them free. I like “Lookout”, as it’s been designed as a mobile apps from the ground up. Other good brands are AVG, AVAST and Norton. I’ll post a review/comparison article on these later today.
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Steve Frantzis, Owner, Saguaro PC Tech, LLC
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