The subject of security of the Android platform is far from straightforward. There’s some debate about whether you really need antivirus apps on your smartphone. The majority of Android security apps are actually packages that include a host of other tools from contact filtering to remote lock or wipe. We decided to take a look at the top three Android security apps and find out what they do.
As a genuinely free app for the Android platform, Avast! Mobile Security is offering an impressive range of tools. It has antivirus protection, it scans your apps to provide details on what they are doing, and it has a Web shield that scans URLs for malware.
There are various additional tools in the package and the best of the bunch is the anti-theft component. The app is actually based on an old app called Theft Aware which Avast acquired. The anti-theft feature is hidden and allows you to remote control your smartphone using SMS. So if you lose your phone, you can remotely lock it, locate it, or wipe it. You can make it play a siren sound, lock down the SIM card, and prevent USB debugging as well. It’s a comprehensive solution for theft protection.
If you have a rooted device then there’s also a firewall that allows you to control network traffic. You can block access to Wi-Fi or the network for specific apps which is handy for security and potentially saving on battery juice as well.
According to the latest AV-Test report of 22 popular Android security apps, Avast is a solid option with an overall detection rate of 98 percent. Although it has fallen down the charts to joint fifth overall, compared to last year’s report which named it in first place, the extra functionality (including the anti-theft tools and a firewall for rooted devices) still make it worth considering.
The fact this app is completely free, has a wide range of features, and offers protection for rooted devices, makes it the obvious choice right now. If you’re looking for a security solution for your Android smartphone, this is the app to get. Avast Marketing Director, Milos Korenko, has assured us that “There might be a paid version in the future but that won’t have an impact on the free version. It will continue to be available and loaded with features.”
As one of the earliest entries into the Android security field Lookout has an impressive user base. There is a completely free version which offers antivirus and scheduled scanning. There is also a locate function for lost or stolen devices, the ability to activate an alarm, and the option to track your phone online via the Lookout website.
Another handy feature that Lookout provides is the ability to backup contacts online and restore them to your existing device or a new one.
If you are prepared to splash out $3 per month or $30 for a year you can secure the premium version for use on two Android smartphones. Extra features include safe browsing, remote lock and wipe, privacy reports on apps, and advanced backup which includes photos and call history.
The AV-Test report also rates Lookout Security & Antivirus in the top tier for malware detection rates with 99 percent detected. It is ranked second overall, taking into account protection, usability, and additional functions.
The free version of Lookout should provide enough security for most users. If you are really looking for antivirus protection rather than theft-related features or backup options then Lookout is a great choice.
Here’s a really comprehensive Android security solution that’s available for free. It has a standard security scanner for on-demand or scheduled scans to uncover and remove malware. It also supports secure Web browsing to protect you from dodgy downloads and phishing scams. The list goes on with a system manager to help you manage data, memory, and battery usage, so you can improve your device’s performance.
One of the most innovative features is the secure app search. The vast majority of malware problems are related to users downloading and installing dubious apps or updates. The secure app search protects against this, even if you do go outside the Play Store to find apps. There’s also a privacy guard, a backup option, and anti-theft tools for locating a missing phone and remotely wiping it.
TrustGo scored a stunning 100 percent detection rate in AV-Test’s malware test. It was also named in first place overall thanks to a combination of protection, usability, and a host of tempting extras.
You may not have heard the name before, but it’s certainly fitting, because this is a product you can trust.
Three big names that scored well in the AV-Test report for detection were Symantec (98 percent detection rate), Comodo and Trend Micro (both 97 percent detection rate).
At the top of the chart, alongside TrustGo, with 100 percent detection rate was Antiy, or AVL, and Bitdefender. AVL is limited in terms of functionality, but it is free. Bitdefender has more features, but if you want to keep the web security and anti-theft features after the free 14-day trial then you’ll need to spend $10 for the year.
Also worth considering are Dr. Web, available as a free, light anti-virus package (there is a premium version with more options), and Sophos, which has a good range of features and aims to keep your device running smoothly.
And the winner is….
We’re going to discuss the issue of whether you actually need antivirus protection and run through some common sense ways to safeguard your Android device in the next two parts of this security series. However, if you do want to go ahead and get an Android security app, TrustGo is your best bet right now. It offers the functionality you’d expect from a premium app for free. If you’re not sure about TrustGo then we’d recommend Lookout.
If you’ve tried any of these apps out or you have another Android security app you feel is worthy of a mention then post a comment and let us know about it.