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<firstimage=”//static.makeuseof.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/lbelogo.png” />One of the biggest reasons that I liked the idea of getting an Android phone was the entire concept of an operating system protected from viruses or other malicious software, thanks to the fact that installed apps don’t have root access to the OS.
However, it didn’t take long before I wanted to enable root access so that I could install and run even more apps. The problem that arises is that once you’ve opened up that vulnerability, there is always the risk that you could accidentally install malicious software.
We’ve covered a number of security apps for the Android, such as my article on Mobile Defense, and Matt’s article on whether you need antivirus protection for your Android. However, vulnerability on any smartphone doesn’t only come just from possible viruses. It also comes from the potential that malicious software could hijack your data connection, sending emails without your knowledge, or hijacking your cellular account and sending SMS messages or making calls without your permission.
Protect Yourself With LBE Privacy Guard
When you first install the, you’ll see all of the apps that are currently set as monitored and trusted. You can not only protect yourself from viruses, but you can monitor every access point in and out of your phone.
In this way, the app goes far beyond “antivirus” software – it’s not necessarily protecting your phone from malicious software as it is monitoring all access points and letting you know exactly what’s going on with your phone.
When you first run the Android privacy software, all apps are set up as “monitored apps.” If you click on “Trusted Apps”, you’ll see that starting out only LBE Privacy Guard is included. Any application placed in this category is not monitored at all, so choose carefully!
On the main menu, you’ll see all of the categories that the LBE Privacy Guard can monitor and control in order to protect your privacy. Categories include location sharing, financial information, your phone contacts and data, and much more. If the apps don’t have permissions enabled in these categories, then they aren’t sending or receiving data.
Click on PIM Access Manager to view apps that currently have permissions to send or receive SMS messages from your phone or to otherwise access your cellular phone line.
If you click on any of these applications, you’ll see that you have three choices when setting permissions – either permit access, reject access, or require the application to prompt you for permission every time access is attempted.
As you can see, all of the apps have the default setting of prompting required. This is a good setting to start out with, because you can see which apps you have running frequently access which data services. If you see any surprises, you can disable the apps that you didn’t know were accessing your services.
Other categories you’ll want to check out include things like location information (which apps have access to your GPS coordinates). Obviously this would be a significant privacy concern if there’s some app sharing your location details that you don’t know about.
Then there are apps that have access to your Internet/data connection. If you really want to keep close tabs on all data going in and out of your phone (especially if you are on a metered data plan), then this LBE Privacy Guard can be a real life saver.
To change permission settings for any specific app, from the main menu select “App Management” and then click on the app that you want to modify. On the app permission screen, you can add or remove the requested access that the application wants to use, or you can choose to enable “Trust” to make it a “trusted application.”
A trusted application is one that not only has permissions to access your phone services that it wants to access, but it isn’t even monitored or logged by LBE Privacy Guard at all. This is a good option for any applications that you absolutely know you can trust, like Gmail or Evernote.
If you’ve noticed your phone running more slowly, or you have higher access charges on your bill than you expected, enable LBE Privacy Guard and give it a try. See if it comes up with any surprising applications that request access to your phone’s services.
Let us know what you think of the Android privacy app. And if you know of any other useful antivirus apps or connection monitoring apps like this one for Android phones, share your insight in the comments section below!