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3 dangerous Android malware variants
© Rafael Henrique |
Security & privacy

Malware is still a huge problem for Android – Here’s what to watch for

While iOS devices aren’t immune from malware, Android gadgets are still the most targeted by hackers. Due to how Google structures the Android ecosystem and the billions of devices using it, it’s a lucrative industry for criminals.

Google has taken steps to limit malware from appearing on the Google Play Store, but hackers constantly look for new ways to circumvent security measures. If the tech giant’s system doesn’t spot them, it can take months and millions of downloads before malicious apps are discovered.

Read on for details on the most dangerous types of Android malware and what to watch for.

Here’s the backstory

You should consider yourself lucky if you have never come across mobile malware. Through vigorous efforts, Google removed over a million apps from the Play Store last year, many of which contained malicious code or violated privacy.

But even after Google’s cleanout, cybersecurity company ESET cautions that it’s no reason to let your guard down. According to ESET, three types of Android malware still pose a significant risk.

1. Remote Access Trojan (RAT)

The most devasting malware is Remote Access Trojans, and their goal is to spy on the victim by receiving commands from the attacker. Undetected, a RAT can perform keylogging operations and intercept data from your device.

The malware can also record incoming and outgoing phone calls and take photos or send images to the attacker. All the data on the Android device is at the hacker’s mercy, as a RAT can even steal login credentials from banking applications.

2. Banking Trojans

A banking Trojan is designed to steal credentials from your smartphone. Once a device is infected, the malware bypasses security measures to steal login details and sends them to the cybercriminal’s server. Banking Trojans are considerable threats to your financial accounts.

3. Ransomware

The third most dangerous Android malware is ransomware. Malicious applications lock your mobile phone and encrypt files. The criminals demand a fee be paid to unencrypt them. But even if you pay, there’s no guarantee you’ll get your files back. You are dealing with criminals, after all.

How to protect against bad apps

There are a few ways to can minimize your risk of exposure to malicious apps. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Before downloading an app, read the reviews or comments to see if others have had problems. It would be best to steer clear of an app with a low rating.
  • Never give away more information than needed, and check which permissions an app requires. For example, there is no reason why a weather app needs your email address or telephone number. Tap or click here for ways to check app permissions.
  • If you think that an app could be malicious, don’t wait. Report it to Google or Apple immediately so that they can investigate. It is often through user reports that malware gets flagged and removed.
  • Always have a trusted antivirus program updated and running on all your devices. We recommend our sponsor, TotalAV. Get an annual plan with TotalAV for only $19 at That’s over 85% off the regular price!

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