Sun. Dec 10th, 2023

Android is open, flexible, and all about choice. Unfortunately, that flexibility comes with more potential security issues. The good news is that Google has a system in place named Play Protect that helps keep Android secure.

This Cybersecurity Awareness Week article is brought to you in association with Incogni.

Google Play Protect represents Google’s entire Android security philosophy under one name. Play Protect is a multi-part system, designed to keep your phone safe from front to back—it’s part malware scanner, part Find My Phone, and part Safe Browsing. Before we get into the details, however, here’s how to find your device’s Play Protect status.

How to Find Play Protect Info on Your Device

To see if your device has Google Play Protect, open the Play Store, tap the profile icon in the search bar, then tap “Play Protect.”

How to find Google Play Protect.

The Play Protect page tells you if any harmful apps have been found, the last time it scanned your device, and the apps it recently scanned. You can tap the “Scan” button to do a manual scan.

Play Protect details.

Tap the gear icon in the top right corner to access the Play Protect settings. From here, you can toggle Play Protect on or off and decide if you want to send unknown apps to Google.

Play Protect settings.

That’s all there is to Play Protect on your part. The majority of what Play Protect does happens behind the scenes. Let’s take a look at all the ways in which it protects you.

Play Protect’s Malware Scanner Keeps Your Phone Virus-Free

Play Protect’s primary reason for existing is malware scanning. It uses machine learning to scan and verify over 50 billion apps every single day—both inside and outside the Play Store.

Basically, on the back end, Play Protect’s malware scanner checks every app that enters the Google Play Store to make sure it’s a legit app. If something is caught, it’s rejected (or removed) from the Play Store.

But Play Protect goes a step further to help keep your device safe even if you sideload applications. Not only does it scan apps in the Play Store, it also scans all apps on your phone for malicious activity—no matter where they came from. If it finds something suspicious, you’ll be notified.

Of course, just like any malware scanner, it’s not perfect. Some things may slip through the cracks, so it’s also up to you to be as smart as you can about installing software.

Play Protect’s Find My Phone Feature Protects Your Lost or Stolen Phone

If you find yourself with that gut-sinking feeling of suddenly not knowing where your phone is, you can use Play Protect’s Find My Phone to track your device without any setup required. Regardless of whether it’s lost or stolen, you can track down the phone’s current (or last known) location.

And if it seems like you’re not getting your phone back, you can use Find My Phone to remotely lock and wipe your device. That way, you can at least make sure your personal information is safe from prying eyes.

Play Protect Keeps You Safe on the Web

Play Protect also integrates seamlessly with Chrome to keep you safe from malware on the web. If it detects malicious code on a website, you’ll be warned and directed back to safety.

This feature should be familiar for anyone who uses the Chrome browser on the computer as well, because it’s the same basic concept. Chrome watches for any indicator of suspicious activity and blocks it if something questionable happens.

Google Play Protect is an important part of Android’s various security and privacy features. Along with Google Play System updates and monthly security patches, it’s all designed to keep your device safe.

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By John P.

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