Review: F-Secure Mobile Security gets the job done

F-Secure protects your phone from both online malware attacks and real-life thieves.

F-Secure Mobile Security is an all-encompassing service that provides antivirus scanning, parental controls, and anti-theft solutions in an attempt to provide an all-encompassing protection package.

Upon installation, the app will walk you through a series of steps that include accepting some guidelines and allowing permissions, like the ability to wipe your device without warning, check your location, and other sensitive administrative actions. It'll then guide you through an anti-theft setup process, first with Android's stock security and then with F-Secure's own security code. You'll then be asked to add an optional trusted number to send an SMS notification in case someone steals your phone and removes the SIM.

Though the level of malware on Android phones hasn't hit PC levels, that doesn't mean it's worth ignoring. F-Secure includes on-demand and scheduled scans for malicious apps or activities on your Android device. There's plenty of factors that can affect how long scans can take, based on how your Android system is set up. For example, the Transformer Pad Prime finished an AV scan in less than three minutes, whereas the Galaxy S3 variant got held up for closer to six.

There's a slew of anti-theft features that makes F-Secure pretty worthwhile. Remember all those authorizations that you agreed to prior to installation? Anti-theft mode is precisely why. This mode lets users perform a series of actions in case your phone gets lost or misplaced. By texting certain commands to your phone, you can perform actions like triggering an alarm, locating your device similarly to Find my iPhone, and even remotely triggering a factory reset to wipe any sensitive data. Though they're more likely useful for cutting your losses than actually preventing phone theft, they're features that just plain work... so long as you know the code, which is hidden in a faint information screen.

There are a few things to keep in mind: first off, the best deterrent to any harm on your phone, whether it's avoiding malware or preventing theft, is establishing good practice and phone habits. Don't download software you don't recognize, and if your phone gets stolen, don't try to pursue the thief; chances are you aren't Batman and your phone isn't worth risking your life for. But for everything else, F-Secure is a practical, lightweight precautionary measure that's worth investing in, especially if you're the type to keep sensitive files on your phone.

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