With about 85 percent of the global smartphone market share, Android is the most popular mobile operating system in the world. Powering more than 2 billion devices, Google’s Android Operating System has dramatically transformed the smartphone market landscape since its inception. But there’s one big problem affecting Android devices; cybersecurity.
Since cybercriminals tend to direct their energy to the most popular platforms where they stand to make more money, Android’s prominence has made the operating system a top target for hackers. According to researchers, more than one billion Android-powered devices all over the world are vulnerable to cyberattacks.
In this article, we take a look at some of the most common cybersecurity threats specific to the Android operating system as well as how to mitigate them. Here are the top Android cybersecurity risks to watch out for:
» Data Theft
Incidents of data theft are pretty common in the Android platform. Hackers use Mobile Remote Access Trojans (MRATs) to gain remote access to data stored and flowing through Android devices. And since the number of people using their Android smartphones and tablets to store sensitive personal data keeps increasing, the frequency of these attacks can only increase.
» Malware Attacks
Malware attacks on mobile devices have skyrocketed in the last few years, especially on Android devices. Cyber attackers are increasingly turning their attention to infecting Android devices with malicious advertising, surveillance, and info stealing malware. Experts are attributing the sharp rise in the number of malware attacks on Android devices to increased use of mobile banking apps.
» Malicious Apps
Unlike iOS, Google’s Android allows users to install apps from third-party sites. Since third-party app vendors lack strict vetting process vis-à-vis the upload of apps onto their sites, Android users who download apps from these sites are highly likely to install malicious apps on their devices.
Devices running on the Android operating system lose security support after only a few years. Android devices released before 2012 lack security updates Google has released since then. These devices are at a higher risk of data theft, malware, and other types of cyberattacks.
Here are five cybersecurity tips to help Android users mitigate these risks.
» Use VPN
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) gives you a secure way to connect the internet on your Android device. A VPN encrypts your connection, making it impossible for hackers to access your internet traffic when using a public Wi-Fi network. Using a VPN for your Android device is an excellent way to enhance security.
» Encrypt Your Data
Data encryption uses algorithms and ciphers to turn the data on the phone to an unreadable state. Encrypting the files on your Android device ensures data security in case your phone lands into the hands of a cybercriminal. You can encrypt your emails, messages, and other sensitive data if it’s not possible to encrypt everything fully.
» Monitor App Permissions
App permissions could have a huge impact on the security of your Android device. Always pay close attention to the permissions an app is asking for during installation. Breezing through the permission grants is potentially dangerous as some apps are designed to take advantage of permissions and gather information on the user.
» Download Apps from the Official App Store
Only download apps from trusted sources such as Google Play, the official Android app store. Be careful with apps from third-party sources as they may contain malware that can steal user data, install unwanted programs, and cause harm to your device.
» Install Security Software
Installing a reliable mobile antivirus app is a great way to mitigate cybersecurity risks associated with the Android platform. Security apps are designed to scan your device, find and identify potentially unwanted programs, and then remove them.
Android is an opensource platform that uses a large number of software and hardware components. Therefore, like PCs, Android devices have vulnerabilities that hackers can easily exploit. We recommend that you configure your device with security in mind. Enable security settings on your device and pay attention to apps that control information sharing to protect your data.