Signs your Android device is infected with malware (and what to do about it)

Credit:flickr photo by trophygeek

Here are a few of the malware protection apps you can download from Google Play:

Malwarebytes

Malwarebytes, long a provider of PC malware protection software, on Wednesday unveiled its first mobile software for Android devices.

The company says its free Android app covers more than 200 malware families and their variants, including “thousands of malware types, Trojans, backdoors, and spyware.”

I already have Lookout (more on that below) on my HTC One and Nexus 7, but downloaded Malwarebytes onto my smartphone to try it out. The app scanned my device in less than a minute and declared it malware-free.

Malwarebytes also has a Privacy Manager that details which third-party apps on your Android device are accessing personal information such as your accounts, calendar, security settings, storage, text messages and more. (It’s a large number, and I’ll get into this personal information access issue in another article.)

Lookout

I’ve used the free version of Lookout Security & Antivirus since I bought my devices a couple of months ago. It’s pretty comprehensive as far as scanning and protecting my devices from threats — open Lookout and it shows you a list of apps with their security status (“Evernote is safe,” “Waze is safe,” etc.).

Lookout’s settings allow users to determine whether the app automatically scans their devices weekly (which is what I do), daily or not at all. If you choose the latter (which I don’t recommend), Lookout has a “Scan Now” button you can press to launch a scan.

Lookout is very popular, with more than 40 million downloads and nearly a half-million reviews on Google Play, with an average rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars.

AVG Antivirus

This is an app I don’t have, but I’ve used AVG for years on my PC. AVG’s free mobile app for Android has been downloaded more than 70 million times and is even more highly rated than Lookout (4.6 average rating from nearly 679,000 reviewers).

Updated just last week with new permissions and auto power-saving to reduce battery consumption, AVG Antivirus scans apps, settings, files and media for viruses, malware and spyware. And while this has nothing to do with malware, AVG Antivirus also will kill tasks that slow your device — a nice feature.

AVG also offers a free antivirus app for tablets in Google Play, but I’m not sure how it differs from the other mobile version.

Avast Mobile Security & Antivirus

Another company well-known for its PC protection software, Avast protects your Android device by scanning installed apps and memory card content, as well as new apps when they’re first used. Users also can schedule automatic scans of their Android devices with Avast.

This is another highly rated app, with a 4.6 average rating in Google Play from 425,000 reviewers.

There are dozens of other malware protection apps in the Google Play store. As far as which one to choose, I don’t recommend any of the apps cited above over each other. My recommendation is to stick with a familiar name that has a lot of reviews (at least 100,000) and a high rating. There’s no need to be blazing a trail when it comes to your device’s security.

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