Updated on 12 November 2018
4 things you can do to keep your Android device safe
1. Update Android
The latest version of the Android operating system has a built-in security program called Google Play Protect. It automatically checks that your apps aren’t doing anything they shouldn’t.
And it lets you remotely lock and track your device if you lose it. So it’s a good idea to keeping your operating system up-to-date.
To update your software:
- On your device, tap the 'Settings' symbol
- Select ‘About phone/tablet’
- Select ‘Software / System update’
Good to know
Google Play Protect may not be compatible with some older phones. After you update Android, you should check whether Google Play Protect is installed.
To check for Google Play Protect
- On your Android device open the Google Play Store
- Tap the ‘Menu’ symbol
- Select ‘Play Protect’
- Look for information about the status of your device
If Google Play Protect is working
Slide the ‘Scan device for security threats’ toggle on (green)
You can also slide the ‘Improve harmful app detection’ toggle on. This sends information on any suspicious apps to Google and helps them approve their security.
When Google Play Protect detects something suspicious, you’ll see a warning.
2. Avoid cloned apps
Most apps from the Google Play Store are safe. But a small number contain viruses. Watch out for copies or fake versions of well-known apps.
Signs of a fake app include:
- poor spelling and grammar in the description or title
- a small number of reviews
- If there isn’t a direct link to the play store to download the app
If you’re unsure, check the app developer’s website.
3. Don’t download apps from outside Google Play
Apps have to go through a strict security review before Google Play Store will list them. Here’s how to make sure you don’t accidentally download an app from elsewhere.
- On your device open the ‘Settings’ menu
- Select ‘Security’
- Make sure the ‘Unknown Sources’ option is disabled
4. Check app permissions
Some apps need to access features on your device in order to work. For example, a photo might app need to use your device’s camera and storage.
BUT when you install an app, you should check what it’s asking to access:
- In the Google Play Store, tap ‘Install’
- A ‘Permissions’ dialogue box will appear
- Scroll down and tap ‘See all’
- You’ll see what the app wants to access
If you don’t want to share the information, don’t install the app.
What if my device has a virus?
If your device is behaving oddly, it may be infected. Signs of a virus include a large number of spam ads and notifications appearing over your apps.
Try troubleshooting the problem with these steps:
1. Uninstall recent apps
- On your device open ‘Settings’
- Tap ‘Apps & notifications’
- Tap the app you want to uninstall
- If you don't see it, tap ‘See all apps’ or ‘App info’
- Tap ‘Uninstall’
2. Restart the device
- Press the ‘power’ button
- Choose ’Restart’
What if my device is frozen and won’t restart?
For Samsung, LG and Google devices:
- Hold the ‘power’ and ‘volume down’ button simultaneously for 5 seconds
For Motorola devices:
- Hold the ‘power’ and ‘volume up’ button simultaneously for 5 seconds