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The Android operating system has come a long way since its first commercial release well over a decade ago. From Android 1.0 to 10, we’ve seen the popular mobile operating system transform functionally, conceptually, and visually from its launch in 2008. One thing the robust mobile operating system hasn’t been able to completely shake off in its decade long history is its innate cybersecurity vulnerabilities.
Common Android Cybersecurity Risks
As devices powered by Android continue to gain market share, their susceptibility to malware and other forms of cyberattacks has increased dramatically. Naturally, hackers will always follow the money. The ubiquity of Google’s mobile operating system provides hackers with the opportunity to attack as many devices as they can, which significantly increases their money-making prospects. Common Android cybersecurity risks include:
Wi-Fi Man-In-The-Middle (MITM) Attacks
MITM attacks occur when someone connects to an unsecured Wi-Fi network. In this type of attack, all communications between the device and the internet server it’s connected to go through the attacker. While MITM attacks have always been a concern for all types of devices on public Wi-Fi, the prevalence of Android smartphones and tablets has made the platform more susceptible to these attacks.
Hackers can exploit system vulnerabilities on the Android operating system to gain elevated privileges completely undetected. System exploits are facilitated by the fragmented adoption of software updates in the Android ecosystem. The fragmentation of the Android operating system means that the security patches are delivered irregularly, giving hackers multiple attack vectors to exploit.
Third-Party App Vendors
Google Play is the official app store for Android users. However, the platform also allows users to install apps from third-party vendors. Unscrupulous individuals are known to decompile popular apps, add malicious code, repackage the application, and host it in popular third-party sites. Third-party app sites present a high security risk for Android users.
Protecting Your Android Device
Despite the security shortcomings, Google is still one of the best mobile operating systems in existence. The good news is that you can continue to enjoy the benefits of the popular operating system while keeping your data safe. Here are a few tips on how to protect your Android device.
Use a VPN
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is an essential tool when it comes to protecting your online privacy and maintaining your data security. Download a VPN on your device to encrypt your internet connection, protect you from MITM attacks, malware, and other cyberattacks when connected to public Wi-Fi networks.
Android users should make sure that they have a security app on their devices to enhance protection. Download an antimalware app that will periodically scan your device for malware and spyware. Be sure to choose a security app that also protects you from malicious websites.
Read App Permissions
Exercise caution when granting apps permission to perform functions on your device or access to personal information. Make sure that you read and understand app permissions before you accept them to reduce the risk of apps spying on you.
Download Apps from Google Play
Google has strict vetting processes which minimize the chances of installing a malicious app from Google Play. Only install apps from Google play to protect your device from malware infection. Stay away from third-party app stores to avoid installing apps that have been infected with malicious code.
Apply Updates Regularly
Smartphone manufacturers and app developers quickly identify vulnerabilities in the Android system and update their code to fix them. These patches are released in the form of software updates for users to download and install on their devices. Android users should keep monitoring the releases of updates closely and apply them as quickly as possible.
The prevalence of Android has caught the attention of cybercriminals. Researchers have found that over one billion Android devices are vulnerable to cyberattacks. Devices running on older versions of Google’s mobile operating system are more susceptible as they don’t receive important security updates. These Android cybersecurity tips can help users keep their devices free of malware and safe from hacking.