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3 ways to check your phone for malicious Android apps

Google's new tool makes it easy to quickly verify you haven't installed a suspicious app.

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Google Play Protect is the company's newest tool aimed at helping Android users stay clear of any suspicious apps. The service constantly scans your Android phone or tablet and will alert you if there's an issue.

Keep in mind, Play Protect is designed to scan and identify bad apps in the Play Store, not from third-party websites that host apps. The easiest way to keep your device safe is to install apps from the Play Store, and the Play Store alone.

There are a few different ways to check if an app is Play Protect approved.

View recent scan details

google-play-protect

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

To view the current scan status and make sure Play Protect is enabled go to Settings > Google > Security > Google Play Protect. Here, a list of recently installed apps, current harmful apps and the option to toggle the service on or off is shown. 

Shortly after it was announced, Play Protect became available to all users, but I opened the settings page and found the feature was actually disabled on my Galaxy S8. No idea how or why it was turned off, while the rest of my test phones all had it enabled. It's a good idea to double check your phone as well. 

On an app's Play Store page

device-with-gmail

Google, Inc.

As Google completes the rollout of Play Protect, you'll begin to see verification badges on an app's Play Store page. This is a quick and easy way to check if an app is safe without having to wait to install it and then let Play Protect scan it.

Before you update your apps

device-app-are-free

Google, Inc.

Just because an app is safe the first time it's uploaded to the Play Store, doesn't mean would be bad guys won't try to sneak something into the app down the road.

Another feature that's coming as Google completes the roll out of Play Protect is a reassurance that all of the apps you're about to update are still safe.

At the top of the update list, you'll find a "No problems found" alert with the last scan time.