Choosing the Best Mobile Security App for Your Smart Devices
Mobile security becomes a principal affair as the world becomes increasingly—if not totally—mobile nowadays. Since the last few decades, mobile communication and information system has gradually become a norm. While this mobile system started to become commonplace when people began using smart devices, today’s pandemic is the biggest factor that gives it an unprecedented ubiquity. As people are encouraged to stay at home during the outbreak, the mobile communication and information system becomes a vital apparatus for them to do their jobs, to continue their studies, and to fulfill most—if not all—of their daily necessities.
When a large amount of information is constantly channeled through this system, security becomes a great issue. Security threats in the form of viruses and malware have become major concerns even before people went online. Today, as people use both the internet and mobile devices to be online, there are more varied types of mobile security threats that potentially cause serious troubles.
To protect your device from such threats, a mobile security app is often needed. Although it is commonly agreed that such an app is not always needed due to the sophisticated built-in security system of popular mobile operating systems like Android and iOS, installing a reliable security app on your device will add an important security layer to protect your data, especially if you cannot guarantee that you can always operate your device cautiously when using your data.
There are indeed pros and cons of having such an app installed on your device. You will get more frequent intrusive notifications from the app and your device’s performance may suffer a little bit due to the app’s operating in the background. Although there are free security apps that you can install on your device, you eventually have to pay to enjoy the best protection for your device. And lastly, false security may also become an issue. You may be less cautious when using your device when you have a security app installed on it. However, these minor disadvantages and inconveniences will pay off in the long run if your mobile security app is ultimately proven to be capable and reliable in protecting you, your device, and your data.
This great security advantage can be achieved only if you choose the best mobile security app for your device. There are numerous security apps that you can install on your mobile device. To choose the best one, you need to know about their core features and how they deal with security threats. Here you will also read about some of the most popular security apps that you can install on your device so that you can pick one that you can call the best.
Best Mobile Security Apps for Your Device
Choosing the best mobile security app for your device is often a very challenging task. There are simply too many security apps to count and the competition makes it even more difficult to choose the one that you can trust. To choose an app that you can call the best, you need to first identify the problem that you want to solve first. You may need a security app that protects your device from malware or the one with excellent anti-theft features. You need to prioritize a particular type of security mechanism that the app does to determine that it is the right app for you. To make such a priority, you need to be familiar first with all kinds of security threats that affect your use of mobile devices.
In general, there are four types of security threats that you need to protect yourself and your device from. Understanding these threats helps you specify your criteria and narrow down your list when choosing the best mobile security app. Take a look at the following threats and then decide which threats you are most vulnerable to. You can then pick a security app that offers the best protection accordingly.
1. Malicious Apps
Malicious software has become the most common security threat even since the PC era. As people use smart devices, this kind of threat is not as notorious as it used to be, thanks to the mobile operating systems’ sophisticated security measures; however, it is still a menacing threat, especially for unwary users. A mobile security app that helps you monitor all apps installed on your device helps you prevent app-based attacks from occurring.
Malicious apps materialize in various forms, ranging from the most destructive viruses to spyware and adware apps that steal your data for certain purposes, which are usually—but not always—commercial. The worst thing that could happen to you is a malicious app that hides within your device’s system environment, illicitly exploiting your data or even turning your device into a botnet that infects other devices that are connected to the same network.
In the past, app-based viruses could easily infect a computer and wreak havoc in its system because users had unlimited access to the system. Software installation and execution could be done easily without the system’s giving any warnings of possible attacks. In today’s smartphone era, users have no control of their device’s system administration, unless they have rooted or jailbroken their device. App installation also has to go through a series of security measures, such as Google Play Protect. Sideloading is also prohibited by default. In a nutshell, a mobile device offers much stronger protection against malicious apps than that offered by a PC.
Nevertheless, app-based threats are not entirely absent in the smart device environment. By altering your device’s settings, you could easily allow the installation of sideloaded apps. Rooting and jailbreaking further increase the risk of infection as you practically deactivate the security measures that protect you from apps unsanctioned by the operating system, including the potentially dangerous ones. Without a reliable mobile security app present in your device, you don’t have any security layer to keep yourself, your data, and your device protected.
2. Attacks from the Internet
Mobile security threats do not necessarily come from apps that you download and install consciously. They may also come from the internet when you visit certain malicious websites with evil scripts within. By simply visiting these websites without doing anything else, your device will be at risk of being infected by the malware. Once your device is infected, the malware may make calls, send SMS, control certain apps, snoop on your browsing history, grab your photos and videos, and do many other malicious actions.
Is your mobile device, with the sophistication of Android or iOS security platform, vulnerable to such attacks? A study recently published on the European Symposium on Research in Computer Security shows a shred of clear evidence that hundreds of apps listed in Google’s and iOS’s respective official app stores are vulnerable to such attacks. By infecting those apps, this kind of malware can find its way to your device and do the unimaginable malice in it.
Attacks from the internet become a crucial mobile security issue not only because your device is at risk of being infected when you use your device’s built-in browser. They raise so much concern especially because Google uses an infrastructure called WebView that allows apps to include an internal browser to show internet content. WebView even allows apps to be made from webpages only. Other platforms also use the same infrastructure with different names. However, one thing is sure: with individual apps being capable to show internet contents using their internal browser, which is rarely secured, they may inadvertently become channels for the influx of web-based malware.
You need to install a reliable mobile security app on your device that can constantly monitor the possibility of web-based attacks or web-to-application injection attacks that may harm your device and your data.
3. Attacks from the Network
Even before you connect to the internet using your device, attacks may potentially occur from the network that you use to connect to the internet. Anytime you connect your device to a network, wirelessly or using a cable, you are at risk of being attacked by malicious individuals.
The most common type of attack is the unsecured wi-fi attack. If you are accustomed to using public wi-fi networks, you should be cautious of this attack. Data transmitted through unsecured public wi-fi networks are usually unencrypted and unsecured. You love public wi-fi networks because they provide you with fast and free internet connection; however, remember that hackers also love them because they can exploit them to steal important data and to use the data—at their leisure—to do many possible malicious activities.
How do hackers steal your data? If you are connected to an unsecured public wi-fi, hackers may position themselves between you and the connection point. Every piece of information that you send to the connection point can be easily snooped and snatched by them. This information can be anything, including your credit account, company contacts, messages, passwords, anything. A mobile security app with a VPN can help you protect your data when you have to use a public wi-fi network to connect to the internet.
Another network-based attack materializes in a form called juice jacking. In a public place, you may use a public USB port to charge your phone’s battery. You may think that the port is just an innocent power slot; however, don’t you know that many public USB ports are connected to hackers’ gadgets? Hackers may steal your data through this malicious port or inject dangerous apps to your device if you happen to connect your device to the port for a charging purpose.
You can protect yourself from this kind of attack by using a USB condom, using a power-only USB cable that doesn’t transmit data, or installing a mobile security app that protects your device from unwanted app injection.
4. Physical Attacks
These attacks may occur when you lose your device or when someone steals it. These attacks are often considered the most dangerous because the attacker can interact with your device and very likely everything stored in it physically. You are lucky if you can get your device back, but if you cannot, you are in a very serious problem, especially if you use your device to store and manage your corporate documents and other confidential data.
Some mobile security apps also offer comprehensive protection against theft. They can help you locate your lost device using GPS and sound, protect your data by encrypting them so that no one can snatch them even if they can snatch your device, or even erase your data completely to prevent data theft. A security app like this can be the last protection that you can rely on when there is nothing that you can do to retrieve your device or to secure your data.
So, which mobile security app is the best for you? By understanding the types of threats that you have to deal with when using your device, you should be able to decide which app provides you with the most necessary protection. If you use public wi-fi networks often, for instance, you certainly want to prioritize apps that offer the best protection against network-based attacks. Different users have different behaviors in terms of their utilization of their smart devices. Therefore, each person has their own needs and preferences when choosing the right security app for their mobile device.
There is currently a large selection of mobile security apps available on the Play Store and App Store. A search for security apps on Android’s and iOS’s respective app store will give you a long list of installable apps, all of which boast superior features as well as their status as the best security app for your device. Which app should you pick from within the flock? Besides understanding your needs and preferences as already explained above, you also need to know the most popular brand names that offer uncompromising quality and reliability to their customers. Nine of the best security apps that you can choose to protect yourself and your device are reviewed below.
Avast Mobile Security
Avast is among the veterans in the antimalware industry. This Czech-based antivirus company has been protecting computer-based devices for more than three decades. Avast is particularly known for its reliability and excellent lab test result.
When it comes to mobile security app, Avast offers a complete set of security measures that help you comprehensively protect your device and the data processed within. Here are some key features that make this security app a truly reliable app for all device usage scenarios.
1. Virus Scan
Avast has received an excellent score in virus scanning capability. Various independent labs have stated that this security app can detect 99 percent of all viruses and malware that are currently haunting the mobile industry nowadays.
2. Call Blocking
Avast protects you from spams and unwanted calls with its handy call blocking feature. Google’s latest policy, however, may prevent this feature from functioning properly.
Avast offers several anti-theft features that you can control from your dashboard on Avast’s website. These features allow you to mark your device as lost, to sound siren remotely, to retrieve backed up data from your lost device, to erase your data remotely, to forcefully enable data connection and to make a call to another phone, and to lock your device while displaying a warning message on the screen. If you pay for the premium features, you can use your camera remotely to snap the thief’s face and record their voice. You also get SIM security protection.
4. Wi-Fi Protection
Avast scans unsecured wi-fi networks for vulnerabilities. If you pay for the premium account, you can also use Avast’s VPN which further enhances the security of your network usage.
5. Backup Feature
What is worse than losing your phone is losing your data. Avast offers a backup feature that allows you to store copies of your data on Avast’s cloud storage system. Compared with competitors, Avast offers bigger storage space to back up your data.
Lookout Mobile Security
Lookout is among the pioneers in the mobile security industry. It is one of the first security apps to be released for mobile devices. Therefore, in terms of experience, Lookout has a more established track record in protecting mobile devices. Here are the features that you will get if you use this app.
1. Virus Scan
Lookout takes a relatively long time when scanning. Its malware detection capability is also no longer assessed by independent test labs, so information regarding its virus scanning performance is relatively scant. The last independent test on this mobile security app was conducted in 2016 and it showed relatively poor performance with detection rate at 85 percent against real-time threats and 77 percent against widespread viruses.
2. System Adviser
Lookout mobile security app periodically checks your device’s system for any root and debugging detections. This is necessary to secure your device’s system environment and to make sure that your device’s operating system and apps work properly.
Lookout app offers three free anti-theft features that can be useful if you want to locate your lost device remotely: scream feature that commands your device to sound a siren, signal flare feature that records the device’s last-known location, and locate-my-device feature that uses GPS to locate your phone. You can use Lookout’s web portal to locate your device’s real-time and last-known location. Paid premium features include remote device lock, remote data erase, and forced delivery of an email with the thief’s captured photo attached in it. There are various conditions that you can set for these anti-theft features to trigger.
4. Premium Features
You can also pay for some premium features when using Lookout. They include data breach protection that detects data breaches and informs you about how to respond to such incidents, privacy adviser that monitors your apps’ permissions and warns you about possible privacy infringements, wi-fi protection that scans wi-fi networks that are not protected with a password, safe browsing that fortifies your network connection with a built-in VPN. There are also identity protection and identity insurance that are proven to be useful if you don’t want your identity to be violated by malicious parties. These features cost you $100 per year, though.
Norton Mobile Security
Norton is another established name in the antimalware industry. Norton mobile security app is also known for its reliability and superior malware detection. However, since last year, Norton has discontinued all of its anti-theft features. Also, Norton is no longer available as a free app. You have to pay for the subscription fee to continue using this app. Here is the breakdown of all the paid features that you can enjoy from this app.
1. Virus Scan
Of all antivirus apps currently available, Norton offers the best detection rate and this is a fact that has been tested by numerous independent test labs. If viruses are your biggest concern when using your mobile device, Norton is definitely the most reliable mobile security app to use.
2. System Advisor
Norton constantly monitors your system for possible vulnerabilities and recommends any necessary security measures to take.
3. Privacy Report
Norton monitors installed apps and marks unusual transmission of information that potentially harms your privacy.
4. SIM Security
Although Norton has turned off its anti-theft features, it continues to offer automatic device locking when your SIM card is removed.
5. Call Blocking
Norton allows you to block unwanted calls and therefore protects you from spams and human-based threats. This feature, however, at the moment is subject to Google’s latest policy.
6. App Advisor
This feature can be considered Norton’s exclusive as it is barely found in its competitors. It is a very useful feature that allows you to constantly monitor all apps that you get from the app store as well as sideloaded apps. If those apps perform some unusual behaviors (which can be signs of more serious threats), such as draining your battery and using up your data connection abnormally, Norton will warn you. If you worry very much about app-based threats, Norton offers the best protection.
7. Wi-Fi Protection
Norton mobile security app warns you if you are connected to an unsecured wi-fi network. As a premium app, it also equips your phone with a VPN that you can use to improve the security of your network connection.
MacAfee Mobile Security
Despite its long experience in the computer security industry, MacAfee is somewhat average when it comes to detecting malware on mobile devices. Regardless, this mobile security app does offer many free features that are proven to be useful for protecting your device.
1. Virus Scan
What is great about MacAfee is its rapid virus scan. It is so fast that it only takes three seconds to complete a scanning session. MacAfee’s detection rate at 99.5 percent for real-time threats and 99.1 percent for widespread malware is relatively average but still considered good.
Even if you use the free version, there is a nearly complete selection of anti-theft features that you can enjoy when using this mobile security app. Using MacAfee’s web platform, you can remotely sound a siren, lock your device, locate it using GPS, use thief cam to snap the thief’s photo, wipe your data, and perform a full-factory reset. All of these features are free. If you are looking for the most powerful free anti-theft features, MacAfee is definitely a good choice.
3. Safe Wi-Fi
MacAfee scans unprotected wi-fi networks and warns you if your network is breached by unknown parties.
4. Privacy Check
Compared with the same feature on Norton mobile security app, MacAfee offers a better privacy check feature because it not only monitors your apps but also sorts them according to their privacy concern. The most privacy-infringing apps will appear on the top on the list, so you can be more cautious about them.
5. My Watch
If you use a Wear OS smartwatch, MacAfee could be a reliable mobile security app to protect it as well. It warns you when your smartwatch is connected to an unsecured wi-fi network and when it goes beyond your Bluetooth range.
6. Performance Booster
Another free feature that this app offers is a performance booster, which is done by helping you clean your memory and storage.
7. Premium Features
Most of the great things about this mobile security app are available for free, but if you need some extra protection, you can pay for premium features that include app locking, guest account for users who want to use an app without bypassing its lock, and VPN.
AT&T Mobile Security
AT&T is known more as a mobile carrier than a mobile security app; however, it does offer some free and premium security features that can be good for protecting your device.
1. Virus Scan
AT&T mobile security app scans all apps that are installed on your device for malicious content and viruses, though its detection rate is not yet known due to the scant independent lab test on it. In terms of a virus scan, this app reliability is only on detecting malware that are present on apps that are already installed on your device.
2. Breach Reports
This mobile security app regularly generates reports on potential breaches to your system and network and recommends the most appropriate responses accordingly.
3. System Advisor
You can use this app to monitor your system and to determine whether it is already rooted or tampered.
4. Premium Features
In addition to the free basic features that it offers, this mobile security app also offers several useful premium features, including VPN, wi-fi security that alerts you whenever you are connected to an unsecured wi-fi network, an anti-theft alert that warns you through your email if some suspicious activities happen on your device, safe browsing feature that protects you from malicious websites, personal ID monitor that warns you when your personal ID is used in some malicious ways, and call protect features that allow you to block calls and do many other call management tasks.
Bitdefender Mobile Security
You can install Bitdefender mobile security app for free, but to make it work, you should pay for the subscription fee after the 14-day trial expires. The free counterpart of this app is called Bitdefender Antivirus app, but it is a completely different app that doesn’t offer the best features of the mobile security app that are listed below.
1. Virus Scan
Bitdefender continues to be one of the top players in the antimalware industry. Although its detection rate is slightly below Norton’s, Norton costs twice as much as Bitdefender, so this mobile security app offers better balance in terms of price and reliability.
Using Bitdefender’s web portal, you can activate a solid selection of anti-theft measures that this app offers. The map allows you to pinpoint the location of your lost device. You can also command it to sound a siren or to display a warning message, to lock your device instantly, and to wipe your data. This mobile security app also automatically snaps the user’s photo when three attempts to unlock the device fail.
3. Account Privacy
If you use your email to access various online services, Bitdefender will help you monitor its usage to detect any potential breaches. It will then notify you about them and recommend the right measures to take.
Bitdefender mobile security app provides you with 200MB of VPN data that you can use to protect your connection when accessing sensitive data like emails and certain web pages. This amount of data is certainly small and ordering extra data can be quite costly. When it comes to VPN, you may prefer using another service that is cheaper and more generous.
Bitdefender also includes protection for Wear OS devices by notifying you and turning on scream mode when your smartwatch goes beyond the Bluetooth range.
ESET Mobile Security
ESET mobile security app offers both free and premium protection for your smart devices. While its free features are decent enough, its most powerful features remain behind the paywall.
1. Virus Scan
ESET mobile security app performs a rather powerful security scan with detection rate slightly behind Norton and Bitdefender. The virus scan feature is among ESET’s free features, so in terms of virus scan performance, ESET can be considered the most powerful among all free security apps.
If you use the free version of this mobile security app, you can enjoy three anti-theft features that can be controlled using SMS. They include remote device lock, remote siren, and remote location using GPS. More advanced anti-theft features that require control from ESET’s web platform are accessible only to premium users. These features include flagging your device as lost under certain conditions, forcing the device to send GPS signal and to lock itself, to send connected networks’ IP addresses, to activate the front and rear camera, and to prevent the device from being turned off, unless its battery is at a critical level, in which case it will send a GPS signal to ESET. When it comes to anti-theft protection, ESET has many great things to offer.
3. SMS and Call Filter
This feature is great if you want to protect yourself against spammy messages and unwanted calls. However, just like other mobile security apps, ESET’s SMS and call filters also suffer from Google Play’s latest policy that prevents third-party apps from messing with Android’s core functions.
You are vulnerable to phishing when you use your internet browser to visit certain malicious websites. ESET keeps a record of known malicious websites and warns you when you are going to visit one of those websites.
AVG Antivirus Pro APK
AVG used to be one of the top antivirus apps; however, today, it is known more as a subsidiary of Avast and greatly overshadowed by its biggest sister in terms of features. However, if you are looking for a low-cost mobile security app that offers features comparable with those of its more expensive counterparts, AVG is definitely a great choice.
1. Virus Scan
AVG’s weakest feature perhaps lies in its malware scan department. While the majority of mobile security apps offer more than 99 percent of detection rate, AVG’s detection is rated only at 95 percent. It also bogs down your device’s performance when performing even a standard scan.
You can use AVG mobile security app to force your device to scream when it is lost or stolen. You can force it to sound a loud siren, to show a warning message for people who find or steal it, to send a GPS signal, and to lock itself. If you use the Pro version, you can get some extra anti-theft features including camera trap and SIM protection.
3. Privacy Protection
If you don’t want anyone infringing your privacy by breaching it or by giving you spammy messages and calls, AVG is good at providing privacy protection. You can block SMSs and calls with this mobile security app and you can also force your device to send a generic message automatically when receiving messages from unknown sources.
4. Premium Features
AVG offers the cheapest premium features to its customers. By paying for a yearly subscription fee of only $15, you can enjoy premium features including app lock, device lock, camera lock, and ad-less interface.
Antivirus Free by AIO Studio is a great alternative for freemium and premium mobile security apps that you can find on the app store. Despite its relative obscurity, this free app offers many features that are usually found on paid apps. Of course, you have to be ready to be bothered by ads when using this app.
1. Virus Scan
This antivirus app includes a built-in virus scanning function that digs into your apps and system to detect malware and exterminates them. However, its scanning detection rate has not been tested by independent labs, so it is rather difficult to determine whether this app’s scanning function is capable enough.
2. App Lock
In many other mobile security apps, app lock is generally a premium app that is hidden behind a paywall. This app provides this feature for free. You can now lock certain apps that you want to limit access to.
3. Wi-Fi Security
With this app, you don’t have to worry anymore about network-based attacks because it constantly monitors unsecured wi-fi networks and makes sure that no attack on your device can be done from such networks.
4. Performance Booster
Antivirus Free helps you boost your device’s performance by optimizing its RAM usage and helping you remove junk files from your device. It also has a device cooling feature that prolongs your battery life and keeps your device’s performance at a reasonable level.
Social Security Office Mobile Al Protection and Other Data Protection
After learning about all mobile security apps available on your mobile platforms’ respective app stores, it should be somewhat clearer for you to choose the most reliable app to protect you, your data, and your device.
Various pieces of information are at risk if you fail to equip yourself and your device with reliable protection. Hackers may gain access to your social security number and other data and then do malicious activities using them. Protecting your data is as important as protecting your life because your life might be ruined if you fail to protect all data on which your life relies. The life and livelihood of people whom you live and work with may also be affected if your data are breached.
There are indeed assumptions saying that a mobile security app is not necessary because modern operating systems like Android and iOS have equipped themselves with powerful built-in security measures. However, lab tests have shown that even Google Play Protect can only detect 75.2% of real-time threats and 72.7% of widespread malware. This rating is considered very poor compared with third-party antiviruses that see 95% a very low number. Besides, a mobile security app also offers powerful anti-theft and other features that can be vital when the worst-case scenarios really occur.