Android is most hacked mobile OS: Here's how to protect your phone

So what can users do to protect their mobile phones? Here are some tips.

Android malware has increased by nearly 63 percent between 2012 and 2013, say a new report by ESET, which provides anti-virus software and Internet protection.

The report also states that not only is Android the market leader in Mobile OS but the most attacked as well. The number of malware types has also increased. The report points out that in 2010 there were only three families of Malware for Android, this had increased to 51 families reported in 2011; 63 families reported in 2012; and 79 as of October 2013.

This isn't the first report to highlight the problematic connection between Android and malware . A Kaspersky Security report had said in that ninety-nine percent of newly discovered mobile malicious programs target the Android platform.

And given that Android controls nearly 80 percents of the smartphone market, the spam and malware problem needs to be taken seriously. So what can users do to protect their mobile phones? Here are some tips.

Lock your screen with a Pin or password: This might sound like an unnecessary hassle, but once you're using your Android, use the lock screen by giving PIN or password instead of going for patterns.

Protect apps: Install 'App Lock' to protect individual apps. This can be particularly useful for personal apps such as email, Facebook, Twitter etc and ensure that if the phone does get into the wrong hands, they can't access the app without the required password.

• If you're sharing any devices, be careful with Google Now as it is linked to your Gmail account.

Using your Android for work: It's best to talk to your IT department first as nearly 30-40 percent of devices in workplaces fly "under the radar" of threats unless users are educated about risks.

Google's Android Device Manager Page is particularly useful to activate especially when you've lost the phone. You can provides more options by logging into your Google account, and you will be able to force a device on silent mode to ring, remote-lock a device, and view its location on a map.

Keeping sensitive information on your smartphone such as Bank account, etc: Make sure not to store it on a removable SD card, which makes it easier for attackers to access data from SD card. Store this data in internal memory with strong password.

• Encrypting your phone WILL slow it down, but it will keep your data safe: You can activate this by going to Settings/Security/Encryption in your Android. Choose Encrypt Device and Encrypt External SD Card, and then wait while the device crunches your data.

Rooting your Android might not be the best solution: Rooting a phone opens users up to new risks and cuts off many of the protections built into Android itself. Malicious apps with root access can cause far more damage than normal ones.

Google's Play store: Don't download everything you see there. More importantly don't download apps from 'unofficial' stores

Permissions: Read the "permissions" screen EVERY time you install an app

Banking apps: These are important apps and you should only install them from the official Google Play Store. It's recommended that you don't ever install a banking app from a link that emailed or sent via SMS.

Mobile Payments: You should be extremely careful while making mobile payments since you are store information about your debit or credit card on the phone.

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