Mobile Security Apps for Android

Mobile Security Apps for Android

The increasing popularity of Android has been bittersweet in that such a widely used platform with a very active app market, becomes an enticing target for malware. While the stats on the amount of malware in Android devices differs from report to report, and security firms have a vested interest in displaying high malware stats, it is certainly true that users of the Android OS should adopt the “better safe than sorry” approach and look into acquiring anti-virus software on their devices.

Av-Test, a Germany-based independent service provider that tests antivirus and antimalware software, recently conducted a test to determine the best mobile security apps for the Android, testing 41 different apps. Below are the top 7 with detection rates of 90% and above:

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Avast ! Mobile Security (Free)


Avast! Mobile Security provides both anti-virus and anti-theft security for Android phones. It contains the usual anti-virus features such as automatic virus scans and infected-url alerts, while also offering anti-theft and privacy reports. This app allows you to wipe, lock and track (using GPS) your phone remotely via SMS, while also allowing you to disable access to the Android program manager and phone settings, prevent USB debugging, and force the data connection on in order to remotely back up your data. Calls and SMS can also be remotely forwarded to another number, and the phone can be locked and a siren can be automatically activated if another (unauthorised) SIM card is placed in the device. You can define an inconspicuous custom name for the app under the anti-theft settings to hide the app from thieves. Additionally, the app icon is hidden in the app tray, leaving no audio or other trace on the target phone , so the app is ultimately invisible when anti-theft is activated.


Dr.Web Anti-virus Light (Free)

While Dr.Web does not offer all the bells and whistles of anti-theft, it’s detection rate of more than 90% places it as a good solution if you only want anti-virus capabilities. It provides both automatic and manual scans, and scans the file system of your Android device, including the “hidden” area and user applications. Any detected malicious objects are moved to quarantine and its real-time file monitor automatically scans applications being installed. The software also uses the company’s unique Origins Tracing for Android algorithm to detect malware, which allows detecting new virus families using the knowledge database on previous threats. A unique record is created for each malicious program and describes the behavior algorithm of this sample. This provides an efficient way of detecting new modifications of the whole virus family and significantly reduces the size of virus databases.

F-Secure Mobile Security 7.6 ($39.99/year or $59.99/2 years, direct)

F-Secure not only offers anti-virus protection, but also anti-theft and parental controls (namely contact blacklisting, content filters, and app blacklisting). The app automatically blocks malware and spyware and if it finds an app with a suspicious code (like a rooting app) it gives you the option to keep or toss it. Recurring scans can be scheduled on a daily, weekly or on demand basis. The antivirus component is activated whenever your device attempts to make a connection to the server, like when you are installing an app, opening it for the first time, or surfing the internet, while also scanning the connection to detect man-in-the-middle attacks. The app’s firewall works only with the standard Android browser, blocking all other third-party browsers.

In terms of anti-theft, F-Secure provides the options to remotely locate, wipe and lock your phone in addition to sounding an alarm. This is done through the same process as Avast!; via SMS. An SMS notification will be sent to the “buddy” number you set if the SIM is changed and if the phone has been located.

The app is not available to download in the app market, but rather through the company’s website. To download the app click here.






Ikarus Mobile Security Lite (Free)

This app is another that offers no frills, anti-virus capabilities. You can elect to run either an app-only scan or a full scan, and set it to run on a daily or weekly basis. You can set how frequently it looks for updates and whether updates should be sought when data roaming is used to avoid high roaming costs. This app is ultimately a standard anti-virus app with a limited number of features, but it does have a high detection rate as shown through Av-test’s study.






Lookout Security & Anti-Virus (Free)

The Lookout Security & Anti-Virus app offers anti-virus, anti-theft and backup capabilities for Android devices. You can run automatic, daily or weekly scans, scan each app, files or attachments you download and any apps that are already installed. It also blocks malware, spyware and trojans when surfing the internet on any browser. You can customise the settings for the data backup to occur as frequently as you want, making restoring lost data easy.  To locate your phone if stolen or lost, the app will locate the phone on Google Maps, which is accessible by logging in to from any web browser.

For the premium version, you can also remotely wipe and lock your phone online if stolen, in addition to enabling a siren to either scare off the thief or to find the phone. The software will block phishing and malware sites from links in text messages and on the web. This version includes a privacy advisor that identifies which apps can access your sensitive data like contacts, location and SMS text messages.





Kaspersky Mobile Security Lite (Free)

While offering standard anti-virus and anti-theft capabilities, this app also allows you to block unwanted calls and SMS texts, so you can say goodbye to persistent telemarketers! The anti-virus component alerts you to potentially malicious apps before they can cause any harm to your phone, while the anti-theft component allows you remotely block, wipe or find your phone if its lost or stolen.

You can upgrade to the advanced version ($12.32), which adds the ability to remotely block, clean or find your phone even if the SIM card has been replaced. This version also offers automatic, cloud-based scanning of downloaded apps and controls what others can see and access on your phone.

There is also a tablet version available ($18.69), which offers all of the premium services in addition to allowing you to identify unauthorised users of your tablet by taking a photo of them without their knowlegde.

Zoner Antivirus (Free)

Last but certainly not the least on this list of mobile security apps is Zoner. This app allows you to scan both newly installed and existing apps, any downloaded files and an SD card if needed. It also allows you to remotely control and locate your device through SMS, while also notifying you through SMS if the SIM has been changed. This app also enables you to block unwanted SMS/MMS and calls and protects you from malicious apps that call paid numbers. The app can encrypt messages that you send via SMS, email, facebook and twitter etc, which is only accessible by the recipient if they have they right key (password).









Honourable Mentions

Though these did not surpass the 90% mark, Av-Test noted that they should still be considered as “some of these products just miss one or two malware families, which might be not prevalent in certain environments anyway.”

The products that fell between the 65%-90% detection rate were:

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  • AegisLab
  • AVG
  • Bitdefender
  • ESET
  • Norton/Symantec
  • Quick Heal
  • Super Security
  • Trend Micro
  • Vipre/GFI
  • Webroot


iPhone and iPad Mobile Security Apps


For a list of the best Mobile Security apps for iOS, click here.

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