Clear search
Close search
Google apps
Main menu

Protect against harmful apps

Some apps can harm you or your device. To avoid harmful apps, you can download from trusted sources, like the Google Play Store.

If you download apps from sources outside Google Play, Verify Apps scans those apps for malware before and after you install them.

Note: Android isn't the same on all devices. These instructions are for devices running Android 7.0 and up. Check which version of Android you have.

Download apps securely on Google Play

To help protect your device, the Google Play Store blocks potentially harmful apps. Before an app gets published to Google Play, the app is reviewed to make sure it's not harmful.

Tip 1: Review app reviews, star ratings & download counts

To see what other people are saying about an app, check app reviews and download counts.

On the Play Store app

  1. Open your device's Play Store app Play Store.
  2. Visit the detail page for the app you're interested in.
  3. Under the app title, see the star ratings and the number of downloads.
  4. To read individual reviews, scroll down.

On your computer

  1. Go to Google Play.
  2. Visit the detail page for the app you're interested in.
  3. Under "Reviews," look at the star ratings and the number of downloads.
  4. To read individual reviews, select them.

Tip 2: Report bad apps to Google

If you've found an app that you think is harmful, report it to us.

Learn how to report content issues or violations.

Download apps from sources other than Google Play

To let your device download apps from sources other than Google Play, you can turn on "Unknown sources."

Important: Your phone and personal data are vulnerable to attack by apps from unknown sources. If you download apps from unknown sources, be aware that your phone may be damaged or lose data.

  1. Open your device's Settings app Settings.
  2. Under "Personal," tap Security.
  3. Under "Device administration," tap Unknown sources.

Keep app verification on

Verify Apps regularly checks activity on your device and prevents or warns you about potential harm. Verify Apps is on by default, but you can turn Verify Apps off. For security, we recommend that you keep Verify Apps on.

To turn Verify Apps off or back on:

  1. Open your device's Settings app Settings.
  2. Under "Personal," tap Google and then Security.
  3. Under "Verify apps," tap Scan device for security threats.

Tip: On some devices, you'll find your Google Settings in a separate Google Settings app Google Settings.

Get warnings about potentially harmful apps

Verify Apps checks apps when you install them from sources other than Google Play. Verify Apps also periodically scans for potentially harmful apps.

Verify at app installation

When you try to install a potentially harmful app from outside of Google Play, Verify Apps will either:

  • Recommend that you don't install the app.
  • Block the installation of the app completely (if there's a security threat to your device).

Scan for harmful apps

Verify Apps periodically scans the installed apps on your device. If it detects a potentially harmful app, Verify Apps will either:

  • Recommend that you immediately uninstall the app.
  • Remove an app that is known to be unsafe.

Improve harmful app detection

If you choose to install apps from "Unknown sources" outside of the Google Play Store, Verify Apps may send Google anonymous information about those apps. The anonymous information may include log information, URLs related to the app, device ID, your Android version, and IP address.

This information helps Google better protect everyone from harmful apps.


Ashley is an Accounts expert and the author of this help page. Leave her feedback below about how to improve it.

Was this article helpful?
How can we improve it?
Watch video tutorials

To get the latest tips, tricks, and how-to's, subscribe to our YouTube Channel.