Smartphone Safety: Antivirus Apps Protect Users from Digital Threats

You protect your computer with antivirus software. But are you protecting your phone as well?

You protect your computer with antivirus software. But are you protecting your phone as well?

When devices get smart, spyware, viruses, and Trojans follow.

It’s common to compare smartphones to mini-computers, given the devices’ ability to surf the web, receive email, or video chat. It also makes the devices a target for malware from infected or malicious websites, or from phony emails.

Although antivirus software cannot prevent certain security breaches, it’s still important for consumers to take security precautions with their phones, just as they do with their personal computers.

Luckily, protecting your phone does not have to be an expensive endeavor. Many free platforms offer protection that is comparable to the paid options that do exist.

Although some options are available for Android or iPhone exclusively, others work on either operating system. The offerings tend to vary by developer, but many provide features beyond a virus scanner. Some programs offer security features that can locate lost devices or prevent users from visiting phony websites.

As with anything, it’s important to research the product prior to downloading, particularly when there’s a fee associated with the download. A CNET.com post from April 8, 2014, noted a sham antivirus software uploaded to Google Play that happened to have a $3.99 price tag. An investigation by Android Police and an analysis of the code revealed that the app performed a single function: changing an onscreen image.

Because fake apps can surface frequently, CNET recommends checking the developer’s website or blog as a reference point, or sticking with trusted providers, including the ones mentioned below.

Desktop and laptop software favorites Norton and McAfee both offer mobile options for Android and iOS devices. The Mcafee versions are free, but offer paid premium upgrades for certain features. The Norton software offers a free 30-day trial for some of its features. After the trial expires, users can keep only certain free functions within the app.

Free programs include Avira Mobile Security, AVG Antivirus, and Avast! Free Mobile Security, although each one offers paid version with additional features. The Avira program is available for both Android and iOS devices, but Avast! and AVG’s mobile antivirus programs are only available for Android users.