When the Android platform was first released, everyone hailed it for its openness. It seemed that it would provide an easier developing environment, along with cheaper apps for users. Unfortunately the downside of an open platform is now making itself clear with an increase in the amount of malware that is being found.
The reasons for the increase in the threats to Android users are clear. Android handsets are powerful yet affordable, and that has meant that the proportion of the smartphone market that are Android handsets are increasing. In fact, around 40% of smartphone users now own Android handsets.
With more people using them, Android handsets become more of a target when it comes to the creation and release of malware. Simply put, you don’t waste your time creating malware that will only be able to infect a few percent of users, so as the user base of Android increases the risks increase proportionally. In fact the statistics now show that an Android user is now two and a half times more likely to be infected with malware than just six months ago.
What risks does Android malware present? There are a number of ways in which it can hurt you, from the simplest such as slowing down your computer by having the malware always running in the background. However it can also make your phone become a part of a botnet, continually using your data connection to send and receive data, eating up your data allowance or running up your bill whilst infecting other smartphones.
The worst risks though are presented by the malware that has premium rate dialers inbuilt, or software that will enroll you with premium rate SMS services. These then increase your phone bill incredibly quickly, whilst earning the creator of the malware a tidy profit.
Malware of this type is delivered up to users in several ways. You may download an app that is infected, or possibly an app that is initially clean but that then pulls down infected updates. Lastly there are risks from genuine apps that serve ads that may lead you to a fake market, loaded with infected apps.
How can you protect yourself from the risks? There are a number of apps that have been designed for the purpose. They are anti-virus apps that are similar to the anti-virus software that you would run on your home PC. There are both free and paid for apps, but it is important to ensure that you have chosen to download a genuine app as even some of these can be infected with malware.
Ensuring that you only download your apps from genuine and trusted vendors is possibly one of the most sensible ways of reducing your risks. The big name vendors often tend to offer the best options when it comes to apps anyway, offering the most feature loaded, best looking and most functional apps. Combining being careful with your downloads along with installing a free anti-virus app provides a cost effective and way of keeping your phone safe, whilst still allowing you the choice of all of the wonderful Android handsets that are on the market today.