With mobile devices dominating the market, it shouldn’t be a surprise virus and malware creators are trying their best to discover new methods of infecting mobile devices. But with the tightly controlled software regulations and scanning from both Google and Apple, are your mobile devices really at risk?
Luckily, these days everyone – or nearly everyone - understands that antivirus is an absolute must for their PC. Most people also get why they also need to protect their Macs from an ever-rising tide of attacks. But when it comes to mobile, a lot of people still stick their heads in the sand.
Most mobile antivirus packages do an excellent job of identifying potential apps that include mobile spyware notorious for gathering more information than they should. Mobile spyware may come in the form of a flash light application that, for some reason, needs access to all of your photos, contacts, file system and much more. While it's great to have a flashlight app, giving up loads of personal information for one can raise a red flag. Why are they gathering that information? What is it used for?
Many users also neglectfully breeze through permissions warnings when installing applications on their mobile devices. Over time, these software packages can bundle updates that may include more intrusive permission requests that users, once again, breeze through the prompts to get installed.
Let’s Bust Some Myths
At the end of the day, your smartphone is just a tiny computer, and we guarantee that someone, somewhere out there, is trying as hard as they possibly can to come up with some nefarious piece of code to ruin your day, steal your data or otherwise throw a great big virtual spanner in the works.
In short, you need to protect yourself against hackers, malware, data thieves and the like – no matter what kind of device you’re using.
Antivirus for Android
A pretty alarming 95% of all mobile-centric viruses are targeted at Android.
The sad thing is, to get a virus into your Android phone you have to actively install it, so it should be - in theory - totally preventable. In fact, one oft-repeated claim that used to get thrown about a lot was that the only real way you’d get your precious phone infected would be by downloading some not-so-legal cracked third party app, bypassing Google Play entirely. Unfortunately, that’s just not true.
The trouble is that Android App Stores aren’t always as rigorous as they should be when it comes to checking apps for malicious code. Even Google’s very own app store has been guilty of this! As a result, sometimes apps sneak through that contain something particularly nasty, like ransomware.
You might go ahead and install this in good faith, not realizing you’ve just invited the vampire over the threshold. Getting a decent internet security package that extends to Android should help keep you safe from mishaps like these. Look out for an internet security suite that covers a broad range of mobile devices and allows you to manage them from a centralized dashboard to keep you super safe.
What About iOS?
iPad and iPhones are a little trickier. The trouble here is that Apple doesn’t actually allow anyone to develop or offer specific antivirus protection for these devices.
Whether this is entirely wise is unclear – their products do come with multilevel security including the much trumpeted sandbox structure that prevents infections from spreading. What’s more, they are rigorous about scanning all apps in the App Store for potential problems.
However, the company hasn’t been totally immune, and there have been privacy and security issues over the past few years that show that iPhones aren’t quite the miny Fort Knoxes they’re trumped up to be.
However, just because you can’t install actual antivirus doesn’t mean there are aren’t ways and means to keep yourself better protected. Malware is just one piece of the security puzzle. You also need to think about things like protecting your passwords as well as your data and identity while on social media, or when banking and shopping online.
Again, good internet security suites offer a huge range of tools that can help with this.
What Else Do I Need?
In addition to security of the virtual variety, some antivirus packages even come with anti-theft and tracking tools to keep your physical smartphone safe, too. And many offer excellent perks like free backups or DropBox storage, so keep an eye out for useful features when choosing an internet security suite!
Many mobile antivirus software packages include backup and location utilities for locating and getting locked out of a lost or stolen device. Although many of these features come standard with the Android and iOS operating system, it is nice to have them integrated right within your mobile device.
In general, every mobile device user should consider installing a mobile antivirus solution on their mobile devices. At the very least it will aid them in protecting their personal information. For users who root their mobile devices, a mobile antivirus is an absolute must have to ensure their devices have some layer of protection from the extra operating system features that are unlocked from the rooting process.
Many of the top rated internet security suites in our list extend their coverage to mobile devices, although many draw the line at offering any kind of protection or privacy features to iPhones. Among the best are BitDefender, Norton, ESET and Kaspersky.
To learn more, read our expert reviews here.