While there’s been some debate as to the need for mobile antivirus apps, there’s no denying the fact that there are hundreds of malicious apps and software out there just waiting to latch themselves onto our Android device’s operating system. Because of the Android OS’ open source nature, it’s no surprise that the amount of malware targeting the platform has been steadily increasing over the past few years.

Though some may argue that Google is already doing a great job of protecting users at the device and cloud level, the risks are still difficult to ignore, especially with stories such as this out there.

If you’d like to avoid any potential security risks to your Android device, take a look at these great security apps:

360 Security
In AV-Test’s March 2014 report, 360 Security scored a detection rate of 100%. Apart from its solid ability to catch malware, this security app has a lot going for it – an easy-to-use interface, smooth performance, and plenty of extra features. Best of all, it’s completely free.

ESET Mobile Security & Antivirus
Another app with a 100% detection rate, ESET provides real-time scanning of malware and suspicious apps which attempt to send texts or make premium-rate calls. What’s great about this app is the arsenal of anti-theft tools that comes with it – you can protect apps from being uninstalled by setting a password, and remotely locate and lock your device in case of theft.

AVL
If all you’re looking for is a solid security app that quietly runs in your phone or tablet’s background, consuming as little memory and battery life as possible, then AVL is the app for you. It registered a 100% detection rate on AV-Test, and doesn’t come with all the extra anti-theft and maintenance features.

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There are many other free security apps out there that have registered a 100% detection rate on AV-Test, some of them by big name companies such as McAfee and Trend Micro. Other well-known antivirus makers such as Bitdefender, Kaspersky and Symantec offer free trials, with full versions that come with a price tag.

27 Comments
  1. Very comprehensive post. My personal favorite is 360, since it doesn’t clutter or slow down my phone

  2. I don’t do a great deal with my smartphone, just occasional browsing of news websites so AVL does the job just fine for me – it takes up little space and is completely unobtrusive. There’s absolutely no need to pay for antivirus protection these days.

  3. I’ve only tried Avast for Android but had to uninstall it due to it being a system hog (but take into account that my phone is fairly old). Haven’t used and AV on my phone for the past 3-4 years and I’ve never had a problem, but then again I’m pretty tech savvy myself so I do know what to download and what to avoid.

    • I’m the same. I have never used anti-virus apps on my phone and have never had a problem. Same thing goes for my computer. I suppose I’m decent at making smart decisions about what I download, which is nice. But I guess having a security net just in case could be a good idea… It’s just that all my past experiences with security software have lead me to think they’re inherently bulky.

  4. I personally don’t use security applications since I don’t really download things on my phone, but I’ll definitely be checking out some of those apps for my tablet.

    • That’s good. If you don’t download things on your phone, you’re pretty much safe though.

  5. I have the ESET Mobile Security and Antivirus on my phone and so far it’s worked really great. It doesn’t tax the newer phones too much but older phones could have a little bit of memory and battery trouble with it.

  6. I can’t say I’m a huge fan of antivirus programs, but that might just be me. When it comes to Android security though I’ve heard that one of the biggest dangers revolves around using public WiFi. Not only that, some people out there know how to simulate specific WiFi networks that your phone “searches” for when you’re out and about. An example is a fake AT&T Wifi hotspot at McDonalds. Quite the scary stuff.

    • I’m guilty of that huge mistake, when I was just starting to use my phone to connect to the internet I didn’t really think it twice before connecting to a public WiFi spot. Big mistake, I know. Now I am more careful! I no longer use public WiFi to connect to the internet, unless it’s password protected.

  7. Thank you for this. My Smartphone is, in essence, a portable handbag, and I would be lost without it. I really should get one of these security apps, but have always wondered which one; my fears stemming from once having to sort out a computer virus that came through clicking on something that said the word “security.”

    I am not sure which yet as I am off to Google to find out which is the best for me in a bit. It occurs to me that could vary by phone?

  8. I’ve only used AVL and it’s pretty good. Personally I think taking into consideration how fast phone batteries die out, I wouldn’t want to keep a security app running in the background and sapping battery all day. I would just turn it on whenever I download new apps from Google Play (which is already highly secure thanks to screening by Google) and then off if no notifications occur after a while.

    So long as you stick to Google Play for app downloads I don’t think the odds of having your phone security compromised are high.

    • It’s true that there’s little risk if you use the same common-sense approach that you would with a PC or laptop. AVL doesn’t use much power thankfully, so I just let it run all day.

  9. I’d like to suggest adding Webroot to the list. They have a mobile security suite that is available for both Android and iOS.

    http://www.webroot.com

  10. I am one that would probably argue that google has kept me protected. I always toy with the idea of downloading an antivirus program but I always seem to decide against it. I will check these out and maybe give one a try. Thank you for the write up and for doing the research for me.

  11. I’m currently using AVL, I’m not so sure it works so well, but so far I haven’t had any issues. I’d prefer getting ESET, but I’m just not in the state to actually spend some cash on an antivirus for my mobile. It is worth the money, but I just don’t have it right now 🙁

  12. Thanks for posting information about these apps. I have used Avast on my phone, but the ones you list sound worth checking out as well. I have trouble on my Android because it is so bloated with unwanted Google apps, there isn’t much room for anything else. If I can save some space, that sounds good to me. Best of all, you wrote the magic word. “FREE”!

  13. Good post, I like that apps, they’re the most popular and definitely does the job. My favorite is ESET Mobile Security & Antivirus and I use it for some time now, definitely good app, doesn’t seem to slow down my phone too.

  14. This is a very informative and important post for Android users. Many believe that their phones are untouchable by viruses and things of the sort, but that is a common misconception. Mobile antivirus is an important thing that needs to be on everyone’s phone for protection.

  15. I’ve been using the AVG Antivirus App. It seems to be very good to me, though I don’t know about you guys. From what I’ve learned here, I think I’ll switch to 360 Security. Thanks, David!

  16. I’m thinking of getting an Android device for work purposes. Google seems to have quite a few of the apps on Google Play that only work with Android devices, so I figured that one of these days I might as well get one. I’ve been hearing a lot of things about Android gadgets, so I figured the security app is a must to get for my Android devices.

  17. A good, basic one that has worked for me and others in my family is CM cleaner. Android isn’t exactly a weak operating system but it’s still smart to keep something like this around just in case. Most people don’t even use a firewall/anti-virus but are still well off (at least on their phones). But if you do need one then CM is really all you’ll need.

  18. It is an interesting read, though I find both of the points I have tried missing from the list.
    I ditched the antivirus that came with my smartphone and tablet. Both were running AVG. I found it resource intensive and obtrusive. When I went off to search what was available on the android scene, I found that the antivirus providers I had always used in a corporate environment produced a free antivirus and security app for androids devices as well. That corporate antivirus being Sophos. It has not been at all resource intensive or intrusive and other than a noticed to say it had scanned the download or app I rarely know it is there. It also listed all of the things I could do to make my tablet more secure, but does not moan at me constantly if I choose not to do it. The only time it had intervened had been when I have downloaded a low reputation app install on my tablet. One I wanted, I knew it was being treated, I was one of the testers and the other caught me off guard, sadly, so I was glad to know.

  19. I don’t think that antiviruses are a must right now on any android device. It is very hard that you get a virus, and even if you do it’s not easy for it to break into your system.
    Antiviruses nowadays are just clogging up space for more important processes, but it is always nice to have a little bit more security if you feel that you need it.

  20. Thanks for posting this useful information, as a smartphone user I’m using ESET Mobile Security & Antivirus to secure my hardware and personal information’s in the device. This ESET application has many options to control your network and online activities, also protect and secure your device from the online hackers.

  21. That news article about the Android phone hacking was definitely an eye opener for me, I wasn’t really ever too concerned about phone hacking. I don’t think it’s nearly as talked about as PC hacking so whilst I knew it happened, I never really knew how.

    I use the Norton security app and I’ve never come across anything suspicious, but I only download apps from the Google Play store and usually only popular well-known ones at that. I don’t really browse too much on my phone either, just a few websites which I visit daily and quite well trusted.

    I think it’s great that you’re letting people know that this does happen and helping us protect ourselves, thank you!

  22. I’ve been an Android user for ages now. I’ve never used an anti virus. I have found that the best antivirus is common sense and by just not clicking suspicious links and so on. Never gotten a virus on any of my devices with the killer combo of common sense and an anti virus on my computer.

  23. These are some great antivirus apps for Android, I’ll agree. Another alternative I’d like to have seen here was Malwarebytes Anti-Malware. When I found out I could get it onto my Galaxy S4, I was absolutely elated. I can always feel protected when I have Malwarebytes on my devices.

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