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Android How-To: Virus & Malware Protection

Can you get a virus or malware on an Android device? If so, how do you keep it secure? Android by Google, is now the number one portable electronics operating system. At WorldStart, we always keep our readers updated on the latest and most popular tech, so we’ll be doing a multi-week series on how to use Android. If you don’t own an Android device yet, it’s still worth reading. Google gives away the source code to Android. That means it’s showing up on more devices every day.

Part 9: Virus & Malware Protection

The development of smartphones and tablets into nearly full fledged computers has not gone unnoticed by the mischievous and criminal element of society. Android, partially due to its open nature, has become a ripe target for virus and malware writers. While the likelihood of you getting a virus or malware is still low, it’s a good idea to run a security app. These apps will not only protect you from viruses & malware, but allow you to monitor what Apps on your tablet access, monitor bandwidth usage and scan files you send and receive.

The first step in choosing a security software is to open the Google Play store and search for security. There are now dozens of security apps from the top security companies such as Avast, Norton, McAfee, Kaspersky and others. For the purposes of this guide I’ll use AVAST Mobile Security & Antivirus as it’s very well-reviewed and free. Click on Mobile Security & Antivirus by AVAST software then click install. Once installed open avast! mobile.

The main screen of the app is the Virus Scanner and will allow you to scan your apps and storage for virus & malware threats. The scan will automatically perform as you download new apps, but you can initiate a manual scan by tapping Scan now. You’ll be alerted to any threat and be given the option to uninstall the app or delete the file.

The Privacy Advisor tab on the left gives you a detailed list of the types of privacy-related permissions granted apps on your phone. This is a fantastic tool, because while it may be perfectly legitimate for a contact manager app to have access to your contacts, you may not want a game app to have access to them. By tapping on any of the categories you can see a list of which apps have access to that information. Then you can decide if you should keep running the app or uninstall it.

The Shield Control tab allows you to change the settings for the various protection systems (called shields in avast!) For example, when you tap on Web Shield, you can turn the shield on or off, disable automatic site correct for common misspellings and check for malicious sites and phishing scams. It is a good idea to look through all of the shields to understand what avast! is doing to protect your device.

By tapping on SMS and Call Filter, then Create a new group, you can create rules which allow you to block incoming or outgoing calls and messages. You can also create rules which specify times the device cannot be used to call or text. This is great for Android phones for younger people, who should not be texting late at night or during school hours.

By tapping on Network Meter you can view the bandwidth usage of applications. This is a very useful feature for people on capped Internet services. You’ll see what applications are using data. If your device is equipped with a built-in cellular modem you can sort the data use between the 3g, WiFi and Roaming data to avoid costly overage charges.

The Settings tab allows you to alter the main settings for avast! These include automatic updates, and your avast! account should you have one. You can also enable a PIN code to access the security settings, so no unauthorized person changes your security settings. You can also add a phone number to recover your pin code should you forget it.

Some of the other features, including the Firewall and Anti-Theft, are only available on rooted devices or with an additional service. Running a security program will take up some processor power and memory. When considering all the pros and the few cons, avast! Mobile Security & Antivirus is a fantastic protection App for free. I’d recommend downloading it. If you choose to go with another software developers protection App, that’s OK too because it’s better to have some security than none.