Refreshed Android security tips : New malware breeds danger

android and alienIn a new report published by security firm ESET, it was noted that malware threats have significantly increased for mobile users, specifically on Android.

The report noted that malware families have increased from three to 79 families in 2013, along with the identification of several new Trojan sub-categories, while new versions of malware are also on the rise.

So what can Android users do?  Stop downloading apps?  Stay off the mobile web?

Tips to keep Android devices safe

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Be smart

Just because you own an Android device doesn’t mean you’ll suffer a malware attack.  The first thing you should remember, whatever device you are using, whatever platform that device is running on, is that you should be smart about it.  It simply means being more selective in apps you download.

Though Google Play is not malware free,  the chance of downloading a malware-laced app in this app store is less than when you get apps from third-party app stores.  You can also do some research before downloading an app so you’ll know who the developer is.  Some are known to create app clones that looks very similar to the original app but the developer is different.

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Be critical

When you download an app, a little screen appears telling you what the app wants to access on your device.  Usually it wants to access your location, as the developer wants to know what countries or regions the app is popular in.  This little screen is usually dismissed right away, clicking on “ok” or “allow” the second it appears.  The problem with this is people don’t read what the app is asking for.

The trick here is to read what it’s asking permission to access for.  If it wants full internet access, question why an app would want that.  If the app is ad-supported, then it’s probably to push other apps, but if it’s not supposed to be ad-supported, and the game can be played without internet connection, then having full access to the Internet should concern you.  Better not download the app.

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Protect your device

The best way to protect your Android device is by installing an anti-malware software. Again, be very careful of the app you download.  Last year, Kaspersky Labs identified a new variety of the Zeus malware that was disguised as a security app on Google Play.  To be sure that you’re downloading the right app, get one from established security firms such as Kaspersky, Lookout, AVG, Avast, or Norton.  These security firms offer apps for Android devices that are able to scan for malware, keep your internet connection secure, and even come with a feature that would allow you to remotely wipe and lock your phone in case your device gets lost or stolen.

Samsung builds in personal data security

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The largest distributor of Android devices is Samsung, and though this manufacturer has its security measures in place, it is upping the ante for the Galaxy S5, which is rumored to be unveiled at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next week.

samsung phone backAccording to reports, the Galaxy S5 will have a fingerprint sensor.  Most of you are already groaning that Samsung has once again copied Apple on this effort, which it may have, but it’s expected that Samsung will utilize such a security measure to its full potential.

First, the fingerprint sensor is also in its home button, but instead of just placing the pad of your finger on top of it, you need to swipe your finger for the scanner to read your print.  It shows a real-time reading of your print, which may not be wise as culprits can easily take a photo of it and make a replica of your print.  In any case, your fingerprint will not be only useful for unlocking or locking your phone but also for keeping other things in your phones private.

Samsung has also developed a new Personal Folder and Private Mode  where you can hide apps, messages, photos or other things you don’t want others to get access to.  A user can register up to eight prints and assign different tasks for each print. For instance, your ring finger could unlock the Personal Folder, or your middle finger could unlock the Private Mode.  But there should be at least one fingerprint assigned to unlock the device.

It looks like we won’t be seeing an iris scanner on the Galaxy S5, as previous reports suggested.

photo credit: JD Hancock via photopin cc
photo credit: opopododo via photopin cc

About Mellisa Tolentino

Mellisa is a staff writer for SiliconAngle, covering social and mobile news. She is fascinated by technology and loves imparting what she learns through her journey as a writer. Got a news story or tip? Send it to mellisa@siliconangle.com