Android has always been, and still is, a great platform for creative minds. Because of this, the Google Play Store isn’t the only place the download files, but sadly, not everything away from the Play Store is safe. In fact, sometimes, dangerous files can even work their way into a storefront you think is protected.
It’s not as easy to catch a virus on Android as it is on PC, but when you do come down with one, its destructive potential is devastating. I don’t have much private information on my PC, but my phone has almost everything I don’t want getting out in one place. Can you imagine someone getting ahold of all your sensitive information?
It’s a scary thought, so how do you make sure it doesn’t become anything more than that? There are steps you can take to make sure your phone/tablet stays as safe as possible, so don’t download anything without care.
Warning: If your Bootloader is unlocked, you’re more likely to be successfully attacked by viruses and malware. If you’ve unlocked your bootloader, please take steps to protect your information.
Related: Android Safe Mode
1. Look at all of Your Options Before Downloading
You won’t always have the luxury of multiple download links for the files you’re after, but you always need to look over your full list of options.
Chances are, multiple sites have the file you’re looking for, and not all of them are safe bets. Proceed with caution when downloading from file sharing sites, and pick the most trustworthy file out of your list before downloading.
2. Only Download from Trusted Sources
It’s a good idea to not download anything from websites like “TotallyLegitStuff.virus” anytime soon. Only download files, APKs, or anything from websites you can trust, and have used before without issue.
If you are sure if you can trust a website, here are a few warning signs to make you steer clear:
- The site is flooded multiple pop-up ads
- The site has multiple “download” buttons and doesn’t make it clear which one you should push
- The site redirects you while browsing
- The website doesn’t have a secure URL
- The sites make you hunt for the download link in a sea of ads, popups, and other annoyances
If you run into one, or more of these warning signs above, find a different site to download your files from. If you don’t have that luxury for this file, you need to take extra steps to make sure you aren’t infected.
3. Scan the File You Need on Another Machine
Let’s say you need to download a zip file, but you aren’t sure if there’s something malicious hiding inside. If you don’t trust the file, opening it on just your Android device can be dangerous, so let’s try scanning it on something else first. Since I have it handy, I’m going to use my PC as an example.
On my PC, I can scan any RAR, ZIP, or any other file with my installed Anti-virus. If it doesn’t look safe, or even slightly fishy after a scan; there’s no way I’m opening it and putting what’s inside on my Android.
If you don’t feel like doing this on a PC, you can do this with an Anti-virus on your Android device instead. I like to do checks like this on my PC just for an extra barrier of protection.
4. Only Download Apps from Official Storefronts
I can’t say I’ve always followed this rule, and you don’t always need to, but it’s a good one to follow to minimize risks. If your apps only come from official storefronts, then you have a much lower chance of contracting viruses.
It’s tempting to download an apk of something you really want, but if you want to make sure you take as few risks as possible, don’t stray from the shallow end.
5. Install Apps to Help Keep Your Android Protected
If you’ve had a virus or malware scare in the past, it’s time to invest in some protection. There are plenty of apps out there, so if you can’t decide between them, why not read about the best of the best before you decide?
6. Don’t Download the File in the First Place
This sounds counter-productive, but it’s the only surefire way to get rid of all risks associated with a file. If you don’t trust it, don’t download it. As long as you don’t let any nasty viruses know where you live, they can’t get in, even if the back door is wide open.
This guarantees the maker of the virus or malware won’t get what they’re after, even it makes sure you suffer the same fate.
7. Look, but Don’t Touch
Not every file needs to be downloaded to access it, some files you can view through a browser or another app without stuffing the file into your memory. If you ever have the option to browse instead of downloading; always take that option if you don’t need the file for later.
It’s important to keep your information safe at all times, and there’s nowhere more dangerous for your private info than the internet. As long as you practice safety, stay on the lookout for sketchy downloads, and keep your security up to date, your Android information will stay safe and sound.
While not every file online is safe, it’s always safe to ask any questions you have below. If you’re lost, need help, or just can’t decide on the right Anti-virus, leave your comments here!