4 ways to avoid viruses on Android

Viruses and malware are one of the main problems of Android smartphones: here are four tricks to save your device

2019 was a banner year for viruses, for those who develop and spread them and for various hacker collectives that used Android smartphone vulnerabilities and user recklessness to steal data, money and launch mass attacks on networks and companies.

The year 2020 will likely be no different because, unfortunately, both device vulnerabilities and user recklessness will not diminish. But if smartphone manufacturers and Google have to take care of the devices, it should be up to users to reduce dangerous behavior. Most viral infections on the Android platform, in fact, could be safely avoided if users followed the basic rules of online computer security. There aren't many of them, either: four are enough, but not all users follow them.

Don't download apps from third-party stores

The most dangerous apps, the ones with the most powerful viruses, are almost never found on the Play Store: they are downloaded as APK files from some unofficial store or exchanged between users. In 2020, stop doing that: with very few exceptions, which can be counted on the fingers of one hand, there is no parallel store that offers a minimum standard of security and does decent virus checks on the apps it hosts.

Download apps from the Play Store with caution

Let's be clear: the Google Play Store is not a 100% safe place either. In 2019, Google's controls over published apps have proven to be insufficient over and over again, with dozens of dangerous apps passing the Mountain View company's control. The main problem, however, is the type of app monetization, i.e. how developers make money by making us download apps for free. The most frequent monetization is through ads: you don't pay for the app, but you watch the ads. This is how different advertising circuits were born, that run banners on Android apps and, at the same time, adware popped up like mushrooms. That is, viruses that make fake clicks on banners in order to cheat ad networks. So what to do? Download, but be careful: always check the reviews, find out about the reputation of the developer, and equip yourself with a good antivirus.

Download open source apps from F-Droid

One of the very few exceptions to the first piece of advice is F-Droid: it's a store of open source apps, all strictly free of advertising tracking codes and with very strict antivirus filters.

If you don't need it, don't download it

The golden rule: download as little as possible. Also because, most likely, you don't really need that app. Okay install Facebook, but what's the point of installing FaceApp? Okay to install Instagram, but are we sure we need ten filter apps? Let's be honest: viruses run through apps, and the fewer apps we install the fewer viruses we get.