The days when cellphones were only used for communication purposes are long gone. Nowadays, they make everyday life easier in many areas and offer almost endless possibilities to pass the time. But as lovely as all these sounds, there is a downside. Because these little devices know so much about us, they’ve become a popular target for spyware attacks. In this article, you will learn what spyware is, how you can protect your Android device from it, and how a VPN can help.
What exactly is spyware, and what effects can it have?
Important information to start with: Spyware can spread to any device that is connected to the internet. It is software that nests the device and records all your online activities. The installation usually happens without the user noticing anything. A short visit to a defective website is enough. However, spyware can also come in the guise of a legitimate program that you knowingly install.
Spyware can have very different effects. While most people don’t like the idea of a program being able to spy on and record everything they do, it is often harmless. For example, spyware can even come from the smartphone manufacturer itself in order to find out your personal interests and to be able to show you individual offers and advertising. So you have nothing more to fear from this type of spyware. However, there is also the strain that you should definitely be concerned about. These are the ones who are after identity theft or even industrial espionage. The software sometimes even manages to gain access to the microphone or camera of the smartphone and spy on you.
How to protect your Android device from spyware
While there is no such thing as 100% protection against spyware, there are a few ways you can get around it in most cases.
Only install software from reliable sources
The apps that you download onto your smartphone should only be obtained from the official Google Play Store because with third-party apps, there is always a high risk that you will get spyware or other malware on your phone. But even with apps from official sources, caution is advised because malware can sometimes sneak in here too. If you want to be on the safe side, you should first take a look at the ratings of other users. It is suspicious when a developer has only released one app and has no reviews to show for it.
Grant permissions with caution
Some apps require a whole portfolio of permissions when they are installed. It is worth critically questioning why a certain app requires different access rights at all. For example, it’s perfectly logical that an application used for navigation would need access to location, but this probably isn’t the case for a program used to take notes. You should always pay attention to such unauthorized access rights and avoid installing the app. It also doesn’t hurt to look at the permissions of applications you installed a long time ago.
Always keep apps and operating systems up-to-date
There are always updates for both the operating system of the smartphone itself and for the applications. These contain improvements so that everything can run smoothly. But security gaps are also fixed with updates. Unfortunately, many mobile phone users still fail to install these important updates as soon as possible. However, this opens the door to spyware and other malware, as it can easily penetrate your system through the security gaps.
Be careful with e-mail attachments and links
You should keep your hands off e-mail attachments and links from unknown sources anyway, as many of you should be aware by now. But there are enough hackers who can fake emails so that they look like they come from a telephone service provider, a bank, or from well-known online shops. For this reason, extreme caution is required. One wrong click is enough, and you have spyware on your device. So if you are unsure whether it is a “real” e-mail, you should first ask the supposed sender personally.
Using a VPN
Using a VPN service creates an encrypted tunnel between the client and the VPN server through which traffic travels. Nobody can spy on your online activity. Even your IP address remains hidden, as that of the VPN server is displayed instead. A VPN is, therefore, particularly well suited if you value privacy and data protection.
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