While Android has not seen too many security scares, the massive number of devices and high number of un-scanned apps that make their way into the Android Market really make you wonder just how safe your data really is. With that sentiment in mind, here are some things that you need to watch out for. And for added protection we’ve included a list of apps that can help you keep your data secure.

Things to watch out for
Your personal data, email, text messages, notes and contacts, calendar schedules, appointments etc. can become targets for viruses, worms or other malware. The list would also include email set-up, social networking details, and schedules. Your Wi-Fi network settings and online banking and trading website details are also at risk. Malware is capable of sending text or multimedia messages, making premium phone calls, or utilizing your funds to buy apps so keep track of what you’re your downloading.

Safeguarding Security at the Root
The Android OS does feature solid security architecture at the kernel level. The kernel is programmed to sandbox applications from each other, which translates to – if an application wants access to details like network access, reading or writing data, and personal contacts, each request is made explicitly and only on granting permission, will they be made available.

Lookout Mobile Security

Keep a lookout

If access is granted to a malware app, then the security mechanism is of no use, so you need to exercise more caution and keep a tab on what to download to your phone. You should also be careful when updating an installed app because it can be, sometimes, as good as installing a new app.

What are you up against?
Android apps can be targeted by a virus that can corrupt data on your phone and even install spyware that can read critical data like credit card details and passwords without your knowledge. If that wasn’t bad enough, apps that can act as nuisance-ware or adware would also rear their ugly little heads and interrupt the normal working of your phone.

Safe Browsing
Although you can avail of help from antivirus apps, you should also exercise caution when you’re in the Android Market. When downloading apps firstly, make sure that the app comes from a legitimate source. Even though the Market is considered a legitimate source, the apps that go up are not really screened, merely signed by the makers. Read through the comments posted by other users. If it sounds fishy, it’s wise to give it a miss.

McAfee WaveSecure

WaveSecure your worries goodbye

If you wish to go ahead, the next thing to do is visit the developer’s website. Most developers who take their apps seriously would have a dedicated space to promote it. Finally, check the type of permissions the app requires for installation. For example, if a game app is trying to access your contact information, which is ideally not required, it is recommended you avoid it.

Protecting your Communication routes
One of the easiest techniques to infiltrate your Android device’s security is through the Wi-Fi or VPN (virtual private network) settings. It’s advisable to use SSL or HTTPS encryption when using an unprotected Wi-Fi hotspot. However, many email providers don’t support encryption. Therefore, it is better to use a VPN network that offers better encryption supported by your mobile phone service provider. Even though you can keep your data traffic option off when not in use, you can opt for apps like WiTopia or the free Hotspot Shield and services like Free Shield VPN that offers increased safety for your VPN.

Apps to Guide You
There are apps that can help you protect existing data as well as help you safeguard your future downloads. You can secure your Android devices (FroYo and above) with unlocking options – use a numeric PIN, a password or a graphical pattern.

Other options include – a free app called Android Protector. With this you can assign passwords to protect specific details like your text messages, Gmail accounts, contact details, schedules, Internet and Wi-Fi settings and also your photos.

If you are looking for something a bit more secure, you can pick the Seal app (Rs 122.19), Carrot App Lock Pro (Rs 68.18), or app protector pro (Rs 90.46).These apps also offer lite versions so that you can try them before you buy them.

Seal your device

Seal your device

If you wish to have an app that backs up and restores your data, pr helps you track your missing or stolen phone, and scan an app for malware, the free version of Lookout Mobile Security or MacAfee’s recently acquired WaveSecure are very good options. However, WaveSecure does not provide antivirus support. Both applications do offer remote wipe functionality.

If you are looking for tools that can help you scan the apps for you before downloading them to your device, you can try the beta version of Norton Mobile for Android. If that doesn’t meet your fancy you could chose to go with the Free or Pro (Rs 454.10) AVG apps.

It pays to be just a little bit paranoid in this day and age of super communication streams especially if you’re a hardcore mobile user. If you’re concerned about keeping the data on your PC secure, it’s only natural you should protect your mobile computing device too.

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