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.
Attention, all Android phone users: keeping your phone secure is important, especially with the constant deluge of cybersecurity threats. A successful attack could allow an attacker to drain your bank account, steal your data, or pose as you for untold nefarious activities. With your identity stolen, there's no end to what bad actors could do with that information.
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 should you fall victim to a cyberscurity attack. So, you'll be glad to know that keeping your Android phone secure isn't nearly as challenging as you might think.
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 people to swallow. However, you should ask yourself if you really need that random, untrusted game you found in the Google Play Store. The answer is probably not.
This action is 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, such as a large and reputable company.
That said, do your research before downloading.
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.
Note that a high number of downloads does not mean the app is trustworthy.
3. Do NOT tap links in SMS messages from unknown sources
Never, ever tap a link in an SMS from a source you don't 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 that it's a phishing attempt or worse.
On that note, don't reply to those messages -- not even to tell them 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. They also patch security vulnerabilities to keep you safe.
Here's a short list of common practices that can improve your safety: use a PIN or password pattern to unlock your phone, avoid entering 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 always do some research before downloading.