Pro tip: Use Malwarebytes to check app privacy

Jack Wallen shows you how to use Malwarebytes' Privacy Manager to further secure your Android device.

Privacy Manager

When it comes to mobility, the issue of privacy is one that should be on everyone's mind. You carry your smartphone with you everywhere you go. You install all types of apps that require all sorts of access. The diligent Android user will always check app permissions as they install each app. The less than diligent will not. At some point, that lack of checking might catch up to you and your personal information could get into the wrong hands.

Fortunately, you can avoid this from happening, even after you've collected a number of apps on your smartphone. There's a feature within Malwarebytes called the Privacy Manager, which will scan your device for apps that access your personal information and do an audit for security issues. It's reliable and a must-have to keep in front of the ever-moving security curve.

If you don't already have Malwarebytes installed on your device, the process is simple:

  1. Open up the Google Play Store on your mobile device
  2. Search for Malwarebytes
  3. Locate and tap the official entry
  4. Tap Install
  5. Read through the permissions listing
  6. Tap Accept (if you agree with the listed permissions)
  7. Allow the installation to complete

From the Malwarebytes main window, tap Privacy Manager. Let's first do a security audit on the device. Tap the Security Audit button (Figure A).

Figure A

Figure A
Malwarebytes Privacy Manager running on a Verizon-branded HTC One Max.

In the resulting window, you'll get a listing of recommendations for your device (Figure B). Tap on a recommendation, and you'll be taken to that configuration option.

Figure B

Figure B
Security Audit recommendations for the HTC One Max.

Go back to the Privacy Manager window and tap the Scan button. This will scan every app installed for personal information access. The results should make it very simple to discern what apps have what permissions. Tap one of the entries and look through the list of apps (Figure C).

Figure C

Figure C
The list of apps that have access to your personal information.

Say, for example, you tap on the entry for Personal Information. If there's an app within that category that has no reason to access your personal information -- tap that entry. The Android App manager for your device will open to the listing of that application. Tap Uninstall to get rid of the app in question. Go through every category presented by the Privacy Manager to make sure your device is not open to apps gaining access to information they shouldn't.

Gaining an edge in the realm of Android mobile security does take a bit of work, but it's something any user, with any level of experience, can handle. Having Malwarebytes on board makes this task even easier.

What do you think? Should checking access permissions be the responsibility of the end user, or should Google take the security of Android in a different direction to prevent issues like pileup flaws and other malware weaknesses? Share your opinion in the discussion thread below.