10 Tips for Avoiding Dangerous Apps on Android

Discover practical tips to safeguard your Android device from dangerous apps. From reviewing app permissions to using antivirus software, follow these steps for a secure mobile experience.

By Abhishek Chandel
New Update
10 Tips for Avoiding Dangerous Apps on Android

10 Tips for Avoiding Dangerous Apps on Android

With over 3.7 million apps on the Google Play Store alone, Android offers immense possibilities. However, with such a vast selection of apps comes security risks if proper precautions are not taken. Downloading malware-infected apps can give hackers access to your personal data, contacts, camera, location, and more. Thankfully, there are practical steps Android users can take to vet apps before installation and keep their devices secure. This article provides top 10 tips for avoiding dangerous apps on Android.

1. Only Download Apps from the Official Google Play Store

The Google Play Store features over 3.7 million apps as of January 2024 and is by far the safest option for Android app downloads. Google performs some basic checks for clearly malicious behavior before approving apps for the Play Store. However, even Google's automated systems cannot catch all dangerous apps.

While third-party Android app stores may offer paid apps for free or other incentives, they involve significantly higher security risks. So stick to the official Play Store as much as possible to avoid trojans, spyware, ransomware, and other malware lurking on unregulated app stores.

2. Thoroughly Check App Ratings, Reviews, and Download Stats Before Installing

Before hitting that Install button, do your due diligence by checking app ratings, user reviews, and download statistics. Sort reviews by Most Recent first to surface the latest red flags other users mention. Look for bad reviews calling out suspicious app permissions, privacy concerns, ads/bloatware, or actual malware/virus alerts.

Additionally, assess the total number of app downloads relative to ratings. An app with 100k+ downloads but only 100 reviews could indicate fake bot downloads and reviews. Avoid apps with inflated download numbers that don't match their user ratings and reviews.

3. Investigate App Permissions Thoroughly Before Approving

When installing an Android app, take time to review the permissions it requests. Legitimate apps will only ask for permissions tied directly to app features. For example, a flashlight app needs camera access but has no business requesting location or contact access. Tap See Details to investigate each permission more closely.

Decline any permissions seemingly unnecessary for that app's core functionality. You can always grant additional permissions later on if needed. By default, deny location, contacts, SMS, phone, and storage access unless the app clearly requires them.

4. Stick to Well-Known, Reputable Developers

Research the developer name and company behind each app before installing. Avoid apps published by obscure, unknown developers, especially if based overseas in regions like China and Russia that are at higher risk for malware.

Prioritize apps from major technology companies (e.g. Google, Microsoft, Adobe) and reputable consumer brands you already know and trust. Check the developer's website for legitimacy and customer support options as well. Reputable developers stand behind their products if any issues arise after installation.

5. Watch Out for Copycat Apps Masquerading as Popular Apps

Malicious developers often create copycat apps impersonating popular legitimate apps to fool unwitting downloaders. For example, scam apps like "Whatsapp Pro" freely available outside the Play Store aim to deceive users searching for the real WhatsApp.

To avoid fake/clone apps, always download directly from the official developer's Play Store page or company website. Search for the app manually rather than clicking external links which could direct to scam versions. Also, cross-check the developer name which should match the official brand for that app.

6. Beware of Apps Offering Advanced Features For Free

Exercise skepticism if an app promises paid or premium features entirely for free. For example, free antivirus apps offering full device scanning capabilities likely resort to shady monetization methods like showing excessive ads, collecting and selling your personal usage data, or worse signing you up for recurring mobile subscriptions without consent.

Stick to apps with transparent business models - either a paid upfront cost or a free app with optional paid upgrades. Avoid too-good-to-be-true apps claiming to unlock premium functionality for free.

7. Install Antivirus Software and Run Scans Before App Installation

Add an extra layer of protection by installing antivirus software tailored to Android, such as packages from Avast, AVG, or Bitdefender. Most antivirus apps offer convenient app scanning either directly on device or by uploading the APK file first. This detects any potential malware before the app ever touches your phone.

Enable Google Play Protect under Settings as well for basic screening of apps downloaded from the Play Store. While not foolproof, antivirus scans help catch any obvious threats.

8. Read the App's Privacy Policy to Understand Data Collection Practices

Make it standard practice to review an app's privacy policy before installing, especially free apps. The privacy policy discloses what user data is collected and how it is shared. Avoid apps that collect excessive personal data unnecessary for app functionality. For example, an app requesting access to contacts simply to build an advertising profile.

Also steer clear of data mining apps that share or sell your information without opt-in consent. Only down apps whose data practices align with your personal privacy preferences. Delete any existing apps with intrusive collection policies.

9. Maintain Latest Android OS and Security Updates

Continuously updating your Android operating system provides critical protection against emerging malware strains and app vulnerabilities. Accept OS updates as soon as available rather than delaying. Under Settings, enable auto-updates for pre-installed system apps as well for maximum security.

Also uninstall outdated Android apps you no longer use. Hackers exploit vulnerabilities in older app versions still installed on your device. Keeping apps updated along with the OS closes security gaps.

10. Limit Downloads from Third-Party App Stores

Beyond the Google Play Store, Android does allow installation of apps from third-party app stores and sites like Aptoide and APKMirror. However, third-party stores involve higher security risks given the lack of app vetting compared to Google.

Limit any third-party Android app downloads to reputable sites like APKMirror that scan apps for malware prior to download. Better yet, avoid third-party app stores entirely if possible to minimize malware exposure.


In summary, exercising caution by thoroughly researching apps, restricting unnecessary permissions, using antivirus scans, and only installing from reputable sources can help Android users avoid malicious apps. Sticking to trusted developers, watching for red flags in ratings, and understanding data practices are key. Keeping devices updated and limiting third-party app stores also minimize risk. Following these best practices will lead to a malware-free and secure Android device.

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