With the steady stream of news about malicious software infecting Android and Windows devices,more
With the steady stream of news about malicious software infecting Android and Windows devices, we probably don't need a lecture on why we need to protect our Android phones from malware.
Malware can range from mischievous software that displays unwanted ads to vicious apps that spy on you, steal personal data, corrupt or delete files, and via ransomware hold the contents of your phone hostage. While malware is easy to acquire from opening an email attachment or downloading what looks like legitimate software, it can be tougher to remove.
Infections don't just happen: You need to actively download a malicious app from an untrustworthy site. So be smart about which links and ads you tap and where you shop for apps. Google reports that a user is ten times more likely to download a potentially harmful app from a third-party site than from Google Play App Store, which Google says put apps through a rigorous review process before making them available for download
Most mobile security companies offers free versions of their antivirus apps, so it's easy to try one out before committing. And if all you want is antivirus protection, a free app like Bitdefender or ESET should be up to the task. Be aware that a free app may be supported by ads or pester you to upgrade to a paid version.
So why pay for an app? Along with monitoring for viruses, a paid app may include antitheft features, call and message blocking, anti-phishing tools, website monitoring, parental controls, and even identity-theft monitoring.
An antivirus app can monitor app downloads to prevent you from installing a malicious file, and it can scan previously installed apps to check for viruses.
While most antivirus tools perform real-time scans for viruses, a few need you to initiate a scan. Antivirus tools use a variety of methods to detect viruses. Almost all rely on a collection of frequently updated virus definitions to identify potential threats.
But because new viruses appear daily, some antivirus tools pair virus definitions with code- and behavioral-pattern matching to watch for files that look suspicious but don't match virus definitions.
Besides running antivirus software and avoiding shady sites, Google recommends you regularly install the latest app updates as they become available. And many of the Android antivirus companies offer full-featured security suites that guard against ransomware, spyware, phishing, spam, and other malicious activities.
Norton's free virus scanning is rock-solid. But it shines with its multiple-device support. For $14.99 a year, you can install Norton's security tools on all your mobile devices. Starting at $49.99 a year, you can protect five mobile, Windows, and Mac devices.
The free version of Bitdefender automatically scan newly installed apps, lets you initiate manual scans, and otherwise stays out of your way. What's not to love? An annual subscription goes for $14.99 and offers a broad collection of security tools, including website monitoring, antitheft tools, app locks, and privacy-risk assessment.
The free edition of ESET checks new and updated apps when you download them. And you can initiate a scan. But if you like to fine-tune your settings, ESET gives you control over what gets scanned and where, letting you set which phone locations get scanned and how often -- and what to do if the ESET finds a threat. The full-service version goes for $9.95 a year.