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Budget tablets at Target, Amazon, Walmart and Best Buy come with malware installed

Budget tablets at Target, Amazon, Walmart and Best Buy come with malware installed
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Tablets are a hot gift this season, but the big names - iPad, Galaxy, Nexus - will set you back $400 or more. So, if you're in the store and you see a tablet for just $50, it's going to be tempting to buy it.

Before you buy, however, there's something you need to know about security. Lots of the really cheap Android tablets you'll find on Amazon or at Best Buy, Kmart, Staples, Walmart and other similar stores might have serious security holes, according to security company Bluebox.

The $50 Zeki tablet at Kohl's, for example, hasn't been updated to fix four major Android security flaws, plus it has a pre-installed back door that gets around security. It also doesn't include Google Play, which means you have to find apps on questionable third-party sites.

Other tablets like the Mach Speed JLab Pro-7 at Staples and the Mach Speed Xtreme from Kmart had important security features turned off by the manufacturer. The big one is the setting that lets you install untrusted apps - you can find it at Settings>>Security>>Unknown Apps.

Some tablets even come with a manufacturer-modified version of Angry Birds, which could contain malware or anything else someone felt like putting in there.

Now, you might be wondering how my own low-cost KomandoTab stacks up security-wise. Well, I took a look and here's what I found.

The KomandoTab is fully patched against every recent Android security flaw, and it won't let you install apps from unknown or untrustworthy sources by default. There are no modified apps pre-installed, and the KomandoTab lets you use the Google Play Store, which adds an extra layer of security when downloading apps.

As long as you keep an eye on app permissions, set up a password and don't let anyone sketchy use it - and that's essential security advice for any tablet - you have nothing to worry about.

In fact, I did a quick survey of other Android gadgets lying around the office and found that the KomandoTab is better off for security than smartphones from major manufacturers.

While I'm all for saving money - as my large collection of money-saving tips proves - always try to make sure you aren't trading short-term savings for long-term headaches.

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