Google Android is the world’s most popular mobile operating system. Android is considered an ‘open’ operating system, which essentially means that smartphone manufacturers are free to alter it to work in any way they want, and anyone can release apps for it.

Unfortunately, this also means Android is more prone to malware than other mobile operating systems. Just as you wouldn’t dream of using a Windows PC without malware protection like BT Virus Protect, nor should your Android smartphone be left exposed.

Fortunately, protecting your Android smartphone or tablet is straightforward — and free.  Read on to learn how.

Step 1: Update your version of Android

Android software update

It’s important to keep your Android software up to date.  As well as new features, each update includes bug fixes to help protect your phone.

Tap the Settings icon, then scroll down to About phone (or About tablet) – Software (or System) update.

You’ll see your update status, including whether your software is up to date.

[Read more: 7 tips to make your phone secure]

Step 2: Prevent app installs from unknown sources

Screenshot app unknown source install

Next, check that your Android device is set up to only allow app installations from the Google Play store.

To do this, go into the Settings – Security. Scroll down and under Device Administration look for Unknown sources. Make sure this is unchecked.

Step 3: Restrict downloads with a password

Screenshot adding App password

If you let other people use your Android smartphone then it is essential to enable a password for installation of new apps. This is especially important for parents who don’t want their children installing sometimes expensive apps without their knowledge.

Launch the Google Play store app then tap the menu button at the top right – it looks like three stacked dots. Now tap Settings and look for User Control.

Tap Parental Controls and turn the slider On. You’ll be asked to Create content PIN

Step 4: Read and understand permissions

Android screenshot - app permissions

When you tap the Install button in the Google Play store, your Android device will display an App permissions dialogue box.

Scroll down and tap See all to view everything that the app wants to access on your handset.

Some apps have a legitimate need to access certain features of your smartphone. A web browser, for example, will need access to the internet, while a photo app will need access to the device’s storage.

If in doubt, or if you don’t want to share the information, don’t install the app.

Step 5: Install free antivirus software

BT Virus Protect screenshot

You should install antivirus software onto your Android smartphone. Fortunately, this is both easy and free.

BT broadband customers can protect their Android smartphones with BT Virus Protect, which is based McAfee’s award winning software. It protects against viruses and malware, blocking dangerous links and even helps you find your phone.

[Read more: Stay safe online: How to protect your computer for viruses for free]

Step 6: Install BT Virus Protect

Locate BT Virus Protect in the Google Play Store and tap Install.

You’ll need an activation code which you get by logging in to the app using your BT ID.

Follow the on-screen instructions to install the app.

 

Step 7: BT Virus Protect features

BT Virus Protect features

BT Virus Protect runs in the background keeping your phone safe, scanning your phone for threats and warning you if you are about to visit a website that could contain viruses, spyware or malware.

The apps battery optimisation feature helps your phone battery last longer, it can block unwanted calls and even help you find a lost phone.

Find out more in our article: Protect your smartphone from malware and fraud: 7 reasons you need BT’s free security app

 

Step 8: Finally… Use common sense

Protection is all well and good, but it pays to be cautious.

First and foremost don’t click on dodgy links and always delete anything that looks suspicious. Email hacking is very common - you may receive an email from a trusted source containing a YouTube link with an unusual heading – don’t click on the link and, if your email app allows it, flag the message as spam or junk mail.

Additionally, if you get a spam text message informing you you’ve won a prize, delete it. If you haven’t entered a competition, you’re highly unlikely to have won a prize.

 

Head to bt.com/virus-protect to find out more

BT EXTRAS