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Can your Android phone get a virus?

Is your Android safe from the threat of computer viruses?

google play app store on android phone
Image: AndroidPIT

It seems like it’s every other week that there’s another round of stories about Android or the Google Play Store being full of malware. That might make you worry about the security of your phone, which is a totally valid response.

Android is even billed as inherently secure, because of multiple security features such as locked bootloaders, separating the apps from system files, and Google Play Protect, which scans through the apps installed on your phone to check for issues.

All the apps uploaded to the Google Play Store are also checked, but it’s clear that sometimes things slip through, especially as hackers are getting more sophisticated.

So, can your Android phone get a virus?

Short answer: Technically, no

The type of self-replicating computer virus that you immediately think of is almost impossible on Android, thanks to how the operating system segregates things. That’s not to say that Android can’t get malware, ransomware, or other nasties, just that what you think of as a computer virus isn’t really a threat.

You might not see the tell-tale signs you’re used to from computer malware either, things like pop-ups or web redirects are fairly uncommon. Android malware tends to hide inside carrier apps, which then runs in the background doing anything from stealing your private information, signing up for premium services with your payment details, and more.

READ MORE: This gorgeous wallpaper can crash your Android phone

The easiest way to protect against this is to only install apps from the Google Play Store and to check on the developer before you install things you don’t recognize. Look for other apps they’ve developed, and always scan the user ratings to scope out if they seem legit or not.

What do you think? Surprised that Android phones don’t really get viruses in the traditional sense? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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Maker, meme-r, and unabashed geek with nearly half a decade of blogging experience at KnowTechie, SlashGear and XDA Developers. If it runs on electricity (or even if it doesn't), Joe probably has one around his office somewhere, with particular focus in gadgetry and handheld gaming. Shoot him an email at joe@knowtechie.com.

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