If you visit the Android market, now known as Google Play, then you will find that there are several hundred different security apps on offer. Some of these you will need to pay for, many are free, but do you really need them in the first place?
If you listen to the security companies (who are either making money or increasing brand awareness through these apps) then the answer is a resounding YES. Listen to some security reasearchers, however, and the answer you’ll hear could well be NO.
And for what its worth, my opinion falls somewhere between those two extremes.
“But theres no such thing as Android malware”
“Android is based on Linux and we all know Linux rulez and Windows sux”
“Security companies are using scare tactics to make sales”
“Android apps are sandboxed and can’t access the kernel”
I’m sure you’ve heard all that and more besides. Don’t believe it though. But don’t get too scared either.
Android malware does exist (see Massive Android malware op may have infected 5 million users) and in more than just the proof of concept stage. It will, I’m sure, become a much bigger problem in the future too (cos the bad guys are always one step ahead of the security countermeasures). But it isn’t something to lose too much sleep over right now either.
I don’t need any Android security apps then?
Actually, I think you do.
Not, perhaps, so much for the reasons that some are being marketed for (blocking viruses), least not yet anyway. But I think that situation is changing quite quickly.
There are many threats that Android users could face now, to a degree, and more so in the future (my opinion). These include:
- Fake installers
- Banking and other trojans
- Root exploits
- Premium diallers
- SMS fraud
Whilst I don’t think these present a significant threat at this time they are a real danger nonetheless and I would, and have, installed security software on my Android devices to protect them as of now.
The real reason why you DO need Android security TODAY
Many security apps for Android come with additional features over and above the advertised malware detection. To my mind these are actually what you do need right now.
The key areas in which you should be looking to secure your Android phone or tablet as of now, in my opinion, are in relation to loss or theft of the device. Whilst malware is an issue, I am more concerned right now about losing data or having a stolen phone abused.
Beyond locking your phone and keeping it out of sight when not used I would definitely recommend looking for an app that gives you that kind of protection.
Mobile Security Apps
As the evolution of computing sees us start to move away from the desktop and onto phones and tablets so the bad guys have started to change their focus. Mobile devices, especially those which use the Android operating system, are a ripe target for malware writers and data thieves.
Fortunately, there are many apps out there which can protect you and many of those are either free or inexpensive. Which will you choose?
Lookout Mobile Security
Lookout Mobile is a great app. The free version will serve many people well. The paid version is excellent but, perhaps, overpriced in today’s market.
Read the full review (4.5/5)
Trend Micro Mobile Security Personal Edition
The free version is better than nowt but very basic in comparison to other such apps. The paid version is better but I reckon you can get similar features for less if you shop around.
Read the full review (3.5/5)
Bitdefender Mobile Security Premium
Forget the virus scanning – anti-theft protection is what makes this mobile security solution a must-buy.
Read the full review (4/5)
F-Secure Mobile Security
A good range of features including browsing protection and parental controls. Anti-theft tools are excellent.
Read the full review (4/5)