Oh the joy an iPhone owner feels when they come across an Android fanatic who’s looking at their Android in dismay wondering what went wrong. Free apps maybe the answer to that question. The Android platform takes a lot of heat for being an absolute wreck when it comes to security; and while many are touting Jelly Bean as the ultimate solution to all of Android malware problems, it’s never that simple. For instance, fretting over one spy software for android or another isn’t the thing to do – Android user’s need to be smart themselves, especially when it comes to free apps.

1. At the drop of an ad
With free apps comes the gift of adware. Earlier this month Lookout Mobile reported on five percent of all Android apps pushing forward aggressive ad networks – sure they’re free, but that only makes their users fair game for adware enthusiast. Think beyond the annoying banner that shows up right as you’re about to slay the dragon in your favorite ‘free’ game. Aggressive ad networks will do more than simply shove a banner or two down your throat, they’ll lift all kinds of information from your phone, taking their pick from your personal and private data. And they don’t stop there, they’ll go ahead and add spam to your phone and add bookmarks you’ve never seen to your browser. Then there’s brilliant adware that’ll bring an onslaught of monitoring software for cell phones onto your phone without even batting an eyelash at you. The average user will walk around with this monster in their phone and never realize it – all the while the adware runs amuck inside their phone causing all kinds of disaster.

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2. Draining it drop by drop
Those free apps sure stay busy don’t they. A lot of them keep running in the background – because several are busy stealing your data constantly – and there goes your battery, and you’re sitting there wondering what went wrong… all you did was call mom. You can ignore the spam, the banners bursting through your dead scores and even the sketchy data monitoring but can you ignore a phone that runs out of juice? Microsoft ran a study recently which found that over three fourths of your battery can fall victim to malicious adware that’s prancing around with your very own permission; let’s face it, it wouldn’t be in your face if you didn’t download it to begin with just because it was free.

3. Beg, borrow and steal
Okay so not so much begging as borrowing and stealing, but that’s precisely what you’ll get if you were naïve enough to root your phone and install a multitude of free apps onto it – malware. The Android OS is unfortunately one where apps can quite literally steal information from other apps. So if you have 20 good and credible apps but just one bad free one there’s a high likelihood it’ll extract data from all the other ones. Apps function on permissions and each app you pick up has different ones that it requires to function. So if you thought you were being smart by downloading something with the least permissions, think again. It can just as easily grab information and data from apps that do have the permissions that it never asked for. This means apps can tap into your emails, texts, contacts, internet, pictures and pretty much anything and everything you use your phone for.
Jelly bean or not, added security or not, at the end of the day if you’re not being smart about the way you use your Android there’s no reason for you to complain. Start by not rooting your phone, and then make sure the apps you’re downloading to your phone won’t eat it inside out leaving you wondering why your phone dies out every time you call mom.

This is a Guest Post by: James Clark has been in the business of providing quality information on Monitoring Software for Cell Phones for a while now. He’s an expert at all things spyware, but his main forte is Android spyware which has captured the interest of many.