Android’s biggest built-in defense against malware is Google Play Protect. There are a few different components to Play Protect—including the Find My Device tools—but a big part of it is malware scanning. Every Android device that included the Google Play Store has Play Protect. You may have noticed the “No Harmful Apps Found” message at the top of the apps and games management section in the Play Store. Play Protect makes sure the apps you download from the Play Store are safe.
You might be astonished to learn that Android is the world’s most popular operating system, surpassing even Windows. As a result, it is vulnerable to malicious assaults. But, if you have an Android phone, do you really need antivirus software? That’s a reasonable question to pose. For many years, antivirus software has been recommended for Windows users. Thankfully, Microsoft has improved its malware-fighting tools—Windows has had an integrated antivirus since Windows 8—but what about Android? Let’s take a look at some of the ways Android keeps you safe.
In addition to scanning apps, Play Protect can protect you when browsing with Google Chrome too. Just like on Chrome for desktop, if you visit a site with malicious code, Chrome will warn you and take you back to safety. Another big thing that protects your Android device is monthly security updates. These are smaller updates that don’t typically have shiny new features, but they’re very important.
Play Protect doesn’t just work in the Play Store, though. It keeps an eye on everything outside of the store as well. Even apps that have been sideloaded from outside the Play Store are scanned by Play Protect. Sideloading is still inherently riskier, but it’s nice to know Play Protect is watching.
Sadly, not all Android devices receive these updates in a timely manner or at all. Google releases the security updates every month and it’s up to its partners (Samsung, OnePlus, etc.) to approve the fixes, add any of their own, and release them to devices. If you want the most secure Android phone, your best bet is a Google Pixel or Samsung Galaxy device. Both Google (unsurprisingly) and Samsung are the most reliable when it comes to keeping devices up to date with the latest patches. These are the tools Android uses to keep your phone safe but are they enough on their own? They are for the vast majority of people. There’s no reason to download an antivirus app on your Android phone.
New vulnerabilities and exploits are popping up all the time. If your Android phone was only updated once a year, these things would pile up and become dangerous. It’s critically important to routinely squash these things as they come up. That’s why monthly security updates are necessary.