Google's own Android Market certainly qualifies as well known source of apps, of course, but it's by no means a guarantee of any given app's safety. Amazon's Appstore for Android purports to vet apps for security. Wilhem suggests adjusting your Android device's settings to block app downloads from sources other than the Android Market.
3. Scrutinize Every App Download
Regardless of whether an app is free or paid, any given download is a potential threat to your phone's security. Take the time to scrutinize each app's market listing carefully before downloading it to your device.
"Pay attention to the name of the app creator," said Wilhelm. "An app that purports to be the legitimate version, but has a different author listed should be a definite red flag." An example of this appeared in the Android Market last year, when an author unaffiliated with any bank released apps for Wells Fargo and Bank of America. Those apps are no longer available in the Android Market, but showed up in searches for several months before Google took them down.
Vamosi and Wilhelm both recommend checking an app's ratings for good measure. "A bad guy can still game this," Vamosi said, "but if the app has been available for six months and has recent, positive comments, then it's probably safe.
Additionally, take a good look at the permissions the app asks for, and cancel the download if the app wants access to phone resources that seem disproportionate to its function.
4. Beware Strange Texts and Emails
As smartphones become increasingly PC-like, the range of potential threats grows beyond basic malware dangers. Smartphone users should be just as cautious of phishing scams as PC users, and resist opening any links from unknown or dubious sources.
"Just like emails, attackers can use text messages to spread malware, phishing scams and other threats among mobile device users," said Wilhelm. "So, the same caution users have become accustomed to applying to suspicious emails should be applied to opening unsolicited text messages, too."
5. Use Mobile Security Software
As the threat from mobile malware has grown, so has the number of good security offerings in the marketplace. Use one. There are several comprehensive device security apps in the Android Market that can help detect and protect against mobile malware, and it's increasingly wise to use one, according to Vamosi.
Because they involve a large number of mobile devices and users, businesses should be particularly vigilant on this front, according to Jeffrey Wilhem. "Enterprises should consider implementing a mobile management solution to ensure all devices that connect to their networks are policy compliant and free of malware."
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