If your phone has some sensitive information, it may be a good idea to install security software on it, we can argue about whether you really need an antivirus application on your smartphone. Much depends on whether or not you download an app from an Outside source, but it can not be ruled out that malware has become a cause of great concern. Most Android security apps are actually packages, which include many other tools from contact filtering to remote lock or wipe. We’ll take a look at the top five Android security apps and find out what they do. We are putting a look at these from the consumer point, so be aware that some of the “free” apps are free for private, non-commercial use only.
1. Bitdefender Mobile Security
spin from the Google Play Store. The free version comes with 14 day trial period, and for enjoying its excellent features after that, you can get it either by subscribing monthly or annually. With the annual subscription, I got the license of the Bitdefender Mobile Security for Android
Bitdefender has won several software tests, like the AV-Test conducted by the German lab in July 2016 and scored 100% accuracy in malware detection. In the previous three evaluations, it has also performed consistently and was known for the best performance.
Bitdefender software lets the users browse without any worries of getting hacked. It also helps to stay away from threats of phishing and other viruses. The most interesting anti-theft feature stayed me off from all the worries of getting my phone stolen. You just need to register your mobile at the Bitdefender site, and by merely triggering the alarm it will tell you about the whereabouts of your phone, and even locks the phone up when a new SIM is inserted.
This feature immediately tells me whether any app is leaking my private data online.
Remote wipe is another appealing feature that helps you to keep your data safe when the phone is stolen. No information will be passed on to the wrong hands if someone lifts up your phone.
The software is easy to use, and its interface looks straightforward and uncomplicated. Another big advantage is that the performance of the phone is no way hindered. It can detect malware so excellently without lessening the system performance even when I do a full system scan
This is a new feature that allows the phone to take a picture of the intruder who tries to turn the phone on in my absence.
Our review is not complete until we talk about the firewall protection offered by the software. For many of us, Android phones are replacing computers more and more. This means lots of info is transferred from our phones, which includes credit card details and bank transactions. Even texts and images can be manipulated if they reach the wrong hands. Firewall protection ensures that the information is safe. A malware check can be run on the phone to look for any existing malware. Users can choose to scan the entire device, the memory card, or the phone’s internal memory.
2. Kaspersky Lab
Kaspersky Internet Security for Android is a mobile anti-virus application that also includes anti-theft features and call/message blocking in the free version. A premium license is available for €10.95 per year and extends the app’s functionality with real-time protection, anti-phishing features, and contact hiding.
Kaspersky offers 3 different scan modes including quick scan (installed applications only), full scan (entire device) and scanning a specific directory. Scans can be run manually or prescheduled in a customizable interval. Kaspersky also offers a feature called Real-time Protection, which automatically scans files the user interacts with, and is available in two modes. Recommended Mode checks installed apps only and monitors the download folder. Extended Mode monitors all the user’s file activity. Users can decide whether they want
every type of file scanned, or only android apps and archives. By default, the application tries to disinfect threats detected in any kind of scan. If neutralization fails, the infected files are silently moved to quarantine by default. The quarantine list and the setting the default action for disinfection failure are quite difficult to find. Available actions include moving files to quarantine, deleting or skipping them, or prompting the user to make a decision. The default action for extended Real-time Protection can be set independently. Users can also decide if they want to be protected against potentially unwanted applications (PUAs) and if all files or only archives and applications should be scanned.
Anti-Theft configuration requires some device permissions, setting a secret numeric code, and device admin rights. Through this feature, Kaspersky offers remote control of the device. The feature involves remote device control, a SIM guard, uninstall protection and a web interface. Remote control from other devices is only possible if the counterpart has the application installed. SIM cards could be exchanged at will without the device being locked. Uninstall protection works well, users can who want to remove the application have to do this from the app settings and enter the user’s secret code first. Configuration of AntiTheft settings can be rather annoying since users are always redirected to the start page of the application when pressing the back button. Kaspersky Lab informed us, that the point has been fixed since version 188.8.131.522 of the product.
The application includes a real-time antiphishing feature called Web Protection. It protects the user against phishing threats and other malicious content. Users have to enable Web Protection in the application settings before they can surf the web safely. Kaspersky also offers Anti-Phishing protection for text messages, which scans incoming messages for dangerous links.
Using Kaspersky Internet Security for Android, it is possible to hide sensitive contact data and conversation history. If users add contacts to a feature called Privacy Protection it is possible to hide data associated with those contacts using a toggle. Contacts can also be hidden using a text-message command or the web interface.
Call & Text filter
Kaspersky’s Call Block restricts communication using black- and whitelisting. Users can add numbers to these lists manually or from the call/message log. The filter rules available are rather limited. Users can either block all contacts from the blacklist, allow only numbers from the whitelist or block all unknown numbers. Call & Text Filter also offers the option to block non-numeric numbers.
McAfee offers a security product which in addition to malware protection and theft-protection also includes backups, a privacy advisor as well as a battery optimizer. The app comes in a free and a premium version, whereby the premium version is ad-free and provides 2GB of cloud space to backup photos and videos and gives access to the McAfee’s premium phone support service.
In the security scan window, users are able to start a scan with the pre-defined settings, or update the virus definitions. In the settings there is a way to modify the auto-scan settings, which include toggling real-time scanning, setting a scheduled scan and toggling automatic updates. Additionally, in the scan options the user can decide what should be scanned. This includes apps, potentially unwanted software (PUA), text messages and files. It is also possible to toggle notifications about malicious apps and files. Under an additional section called Web Security are the phishing and malware protection for the browser. This component also checks for risky Wi-Fi connections.
When launching this component for the first time, an initial setup has to be run in order to connect to the web interface. Therefore, a McAfee account has to be created and the necessary permissions have to be granted. Anti-Theft commands can be sent via text messages and a neat web interface. The web interface is basically divided into two parts, which is a bit confusing. There is the modern “Find Device” too, which one is directed to when logging in, and the legacy “My Device”. The anti-theft commands can be sent from both, but only the latter provides access to backup data. The old site is not so easy to find, especially as one does not even expect it to be there.
The Privacy component is responsible for multiple features. It includes a simple app check (which shows access to private data for certain apps), a call blocker, an app locker, and profiles (which can be used to restrict the apps usable by specific users).
This component is responsible for the speedup tools in the app. One can find an “Extend Battery” function (which turns off some powerintensive setting like Bluetooth), a memory cleaner which kills running tasks, as well as a storage cleaner which can clean the storage from unwanted data like cache files. A data monitor can also be found in this component. Alarm Lock Locate Capture Cam I lost my device Track Backup Wipe Reset Alarm Locate Lock Reset Wipe Capture-cam SIM Change protection Uninstall protection Capture-cam
The Backup component can save private data (text messages, call logs, and contacts) to the cloud and also makes it possible to restore this data. In the pro version the backup of media files is also possible. It is possible to activate automatic backups or to be notified when there is a new contact to be backed up.
4. Avira Antivirus Security
Avira provides a comprehensive product which is available in a free and a Pro version. The core features of Avira are the malware protection as well as the Anti-Theft component. Additionally, AviraSafeSearch, Identity Safeguard, a blacklist for unwanted calls and a Privacy Advisor are provided. The Pro version enables Secure Browsing as well as more frequent antivirus database updates. Avira Optimizer and App Lock are offered as separate apps.
The Antivirus component offers a one-click experience, whereby advanced users can configure the scan in the settings. It is possible to optionally scan for adware, PUAs and riskware, and choose if apps and/or files should be scanned. Additionally, a scan can be triggered whenever storage is mounted or a USB cable is unplugged. A scan scheduler is also offered which lets you set automatic scans at specific times.
In the Pro version the user is additionally protected with secure browsing, which warns of harmful sites such as malware and phishing pages. The virus database is updated automatically whereby Pro users get them more frequently.
The Anti-Theft component offers web control but no text-message control. The commands all worked as expected and we were not able to bypass the Avira lock screen.
In addition to the core features, Avira provides a Blacklist to block unwanted calls, “Avira Locating Play Sound Lock Your Device Device Report Wipe
SafeSearch” (a widget that enables searching via Avira’s own search engine), “Identity Safeguard”, which looks up databases of email addresses known to be compromised, and “Privacy Advisor”, which rates the privacy risk of apps according to their permissions.
In addition to those features directly integrated into the app, two separate apps offered by Avira, namely “App Lock” and “Avira Optimizer”, can be installed. The first provides password protection for apps, while the later tries to optimize your phone’s storage and battery.
5. Avast Mobile Security
Avast is a comprehensive product which has always offered a great range of security features. The version tested this year has brought some major changes and a completely new design. This also can be seen in the version number; in our Mobile Test of 2015 we tested version 3.0, while this year we already had version 5.2.0. Due to the many features available, Avast has made non-essential functions into separate apps, so users can decide which features they want to install and use. The main app provides the anti-virus function, app locking, call blocking, a privacy advisor, a Wi-Fispeed and security check, as well as a firewall. The latter is only relevant for users who have rooted their phones.
This feature comes as a separate app, which can be controlled by text message or web interface. The initial configuration sets up a PIN code which locks the app and also is used for SMS commands. Additionally, an account is created which can be used to control the app via the web control. To use commands like the “audio record” the app has to be connected to Google Drive to store the data. To hide the app from a potential thief stealth mode can be activated which hides the app shortcut in the menu. The web commands are easy to use, with a well-designed interface. As noted in the AntiTheft details section, for recording audio and photos, the app needs to be linked with Google Drive so it can upload the created files. Unfortunately, there is no prompt for this in the setup process of Anti-Theft, and therefore it can easily be missed. If text-messages are used to send anti-theft commands from e.g. a friend’s phone, these ideally be sent from another phone with the Avast app, as these will not be shown anywhere. Avast inform us that standard text messages can be used as well, although we had difficulty finding this function.
This tool checks available Wi-Fi networks for threats and establishes if it is safe to use them. This is done by checking things like the encryption used. After such a test has been run, it is also possible to check the connection speed.
The call blocking feature is implemented as a simple “blacklist” but when using the rule “All unknown numbers” it is effectively whitelisting known numbers. In our test this feature worked as expected, and managed to supress an incoming call. On our test system, the phone rang once before the call was blocked; Avast inform us that this only happens with some (older) mobile phones.
It is easy to protect apps from unauthorized usage with a PIN code. The protection works fine, and Avast shows a lock screen every time a protected app is used. In our test, we could not uninstall the Avast app via the Android settings, but we were able to remove it by dragging its icon on the home screen, which obviously removes all its protection features.
The privacy advisor lists installed apps and shows the permissions each one has, as well as ad networks used.
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