How to check your Android phone for malicious apps
Google Play Protect is built into Android and is already hard at work.
Jason CiprianiContributing Writer, ZDNet
Jason Cipriani is based out of beautiful Colorado and has been covering mobile technology news and reviewing the latest gadgets for the last six years. His work can also be found on sister site CNET in the How To section, as well as across several more online publications.
A recently discovered WhatsApp flaw made it possible for hackers to remotely install spyware on an iOS or Android device, without the phone's user even knowing. WhatsApp has already patched the flaw, both on its server and through an update for the app. If you haven't updated the WhatsApp app right now, do that immediately.
The flaw and subsequent fix serve as an important reminder to double check that your device is free of any malicious apps.
Google Play Protect scans up to 50 billion apps every day in an attempt to identify and remove any bad apps. When Google first launched Play Protect, the service only scanned apps installed from the Play store. Now, it scans every app installed on your device, regardless of source. It's a good idea to make sure Google Play Protect is enabled, learn how to scan on demand and double-check app updates before they are installed.
Watch this: How to detect malicious apps on your Android phone
View recent scan details
To view your Android device's last scan status and make sure Play Protect is enabled go to Settings > Security. The first option should be Google Play Protect; tap it. You'll find a list of recently scanned apps, any harmful apps found, and the option to scan your device on demand.
Play Protect should be enabled by default on your Android device, but it's a good idea to visit the above settings page and double check.
Verify an app is safe
During the installation of an app from the Play store, you'll find the Play Protect badge underneath the progress bar, reassuring you the app has been "Verified by Play Protect" and is safe to install at the time of install.
Before you update your apps
After an app is scanned and approved for the Play store, that doesn't mean a bad actor won't slip something nefarious into a future app update. Thankfully, Google will show you at the top of the Updates section in the Play store whether or not pending updates are safe to download.