/>
X
Innovation
Why you can trust ZDNET : ZDNET independently tests and researches products to bring you our best recommendations and advice. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Our process

'ZDNET Recommends': What exactly does it mean?

ZDNET's recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.

When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNET nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.

ZDNET's editorial team writes on behalf of you, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form.

Close

5 quick tips for better Android phone security right now

Here are the best, and easiest, practices to help you keep your Android device from being compromised.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer on
Reviewed by Christina Darby
Person using an Android phone.
Shutterstock/MS_studio

Attention, all Android phone users: Keeping your phone secure is important. 

These days, it's sadly easy for malicious hackers to drain your bank account or steal your data. 

Keeping up with your security practices on the front end makes it a lot less likely you'll have to spend time, energy, and maybe even money after you run into trouble. 

Here are some of the best -- and simplest -- ways to avoid such problems.

How to make your Android phone more secure

1. Only install necessary apps

This first piece of advice is a tough one for many to swallow. However, you should ask yourself if you really need that random, untrusted game found in the Google Play Store. The answer is probably not.

Why is this so important? Because you never know what kind of malicious code is to be found lurking within an app or an ad framework for an app. In a perfect world, the stock apps found on your device should be enough. When you do want to download a third-party app, make sure it's from a trusted source like a large and reputable company. 

That said, do your research before downloading.

Also: Battery-draining Android apps with 20 million downloads pulled from the Google Play Store

2. Stick to the Google Play Store

Continuing my previous point, stick to safe downloads. Using the Google Play Store makes safe downloads more likely. That's not to say that EVERY app on the platform can be trusted, but most of them have been carefully vetted. 

Also, Android has a security feature that will send you a text if the internal security team notices that an app download looks harmful. 

Note that a high number of downloads does not mean the app is trustworthy.

Also: Fake versions of real smartphone apps are being used to spread malware. Here's how to stay safe

3. Do NOT tap links from SMS messages from unknown sources

Never, ever, ever tap a link in an SMS from a source you do not know! Any time you receive an SMS from an unknown source, assume it is an attempt to access your data or insert malicious code onto your device. And even if that SMS message seems to come from a reputable source, chances are still good it's a phishing attempt or worse. 

On that note, don't reply to those messages -- not even to stop texting you. Either block or ignore the number, but don't engage.

4. Update, update, update

Google releases regular security patches for the Android operating system and it's absolutely crucial that you install them. Those updates don't just contain new and exciting features, but patch security vulnerabilities to keep you safe. 

To check for an OS upgrade, go to Settings > System > System update.

But this doesn't just apply to the operating system. You also must regularly check for app updates. 

This process can be done from the Google Play Store. Simply, tap your profile image > Manage apps & device > Update all. You may also be able to set your phone to keep apps updated automatically.

Also: How to find and remove advanced spyware from your phone

5. Don't connect to unsecured networks without a VPN

The second you connect to an unsecured wireless network, you open yourself up to the possibility of having your packets sniffed or your device compromised. 

If you find yourself wanting to connect to a network without a secure password, don't. Instead, connect to a data network or a trusted VPN service that can encrypt and randomize the data you send.

Among others, do stay away from an app called SuperVPN Free VPN Client (and free VPNs in general).

FAQs

How can I ensure security on my mobile phone?

Aside from only downloading apps from trusted stores, you can do simple things every day that decrease the chances of outside security breaches. Here's a short list of common practices that help improve your safety: Use a PIN or password pattern to unlock your phone, avoid putting in personal information on websites, back up your data, and make sure to log out of a site after you make a payment. 

Does Android have built-in security?

Android's mobile safety page provides details on the operating system's defense strategy. In a nutshell, yes, Android does take steps to alert consumers of security concerns and has internal security for user protection.

What apps should I avoid downloading on my Android device?  

Here are some of the most dangerous apps you should NOT install on your Android device: UC Browser, CLEANit, Dolphin Browser, and SuperVPN Free VPN Client. These are just a few of many harmful apps, so do some research before downloading.   

Editorial standards

Related

You can use the Lensa AI app to turn your photos into artistic portraits
Lensa AI app results

You can use the Lensa AI app to turn your photos into artistic portraits

Samsung's Galaxy Watch 5 just dropped $50 in price
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5

Samsung's Galaxy Watch 5 just dropped $50 in price

The best AT&T phone deals right now
attthumb.jpg

The best AT&T phone deals right now