Security on Android phones need not be a worry. Here are three apps that protect against malware and theft

Malware is everywhere, on the internet on your computer, and possibly even on your smartphone, too. It is a constant worry, but there are plenty of mobile security apps to keep your phone safe. Here are three.

Do you need a security app on your Android phone or tablet?

A lot depends on what you do with your device and if you only ever install popular apps like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and others from the Google Play Store, then you probably don’t need an Android antivirus app.

If you like to try new and exciting apps that have just been released, and before anyone else has tried them, then yes you do need extra mobile security. Bad apps have appeared in the Google Play Store occasionally and if you are the first to try them then they might not be safe.

Unsafe apps are removed when they are discovered, but inevitably some are downloaded many times before anyone realises that there is a problem.

Extra security and a malware scanner is definitely needed if you install apps from alternative app stores and from the web in general. Most Android malware exists outside of the Google Play Store and alternative sources are not recommended without the protection of antivirus and security software.

These security apps provide more than malware protection and some include anti-theft with remote locking, parental controls and other features. Even if you aren't worried about malware, they are worth it for the extras.

We have looked at security issues before and saw how to use Private mode on Samsung phones to hide stuff. Also see how I fixed the security on my Android phone.

Panda Free Antivirus and Security

Panda Free Antivirus and Security is a really nice app that looks great. This isn’t a beauty contest though and more important is the app’s ability to protect the phone or tablet. There are Free and Pro modes and if you choose to use the free one you get Antivirus, Anti-theft, Privacy Auditor, and Optimisation.

The Antivirus module will scan the phone looking for malware. It only takes a minute and it shows the results afterwards (hopefully nothing will be found).

The Privacy Auditor examines all the apps on the phone and then presents privacy issues organised into categories. For example, it shows the aps that can track your location, apps that can access text messages, apps that can access your contacts and so on.

It is up to you to read through the apps listed and decide whether you are OK with them accessing these things. A delete button next to each app enables you to uninstall it if there are any you are not happy with.

Panda Security provides an online account and with Anti-Theft enabled you can see your device location and remotely lock or wipe it.

More features are available in the Pro version for far less than you would pay for many games. No malware was detected on my phone because I keep it pretty clean, but it seems to do the job and has useful security features.

 Panda Free Antivirus and Security app for Android Panda Free Antivirus and Security app for Android


Security - Free

This security app is called Security - Free in the Google Play Store, but is Webroot SecureAnywhere Mobile when installed on the phone. It can be used for free, but more features are available with paid upgrades.

You get a lot for free and the range of features is impressive. For example, there is not only a malware scanner that checks for bad apps installed on the device, there is also an Install Shield that scans new apps as they are installed, a File System Shield that scans downloaded and modified files, an Execution Shield that scans every app you run, and a Dialer Shield that blocks malicious web pages.

As if that isn’t enough, this security app also provides call and text messaging protection. It can block calls, detect text messages from blocked callers, block unidentified numbers, and block malicious text messages containing links to malware.

The app does not highlight potential privacy issues with apps installed on the phone or tablet, but it does have anti-theft. This requires you to create an online account for tracking, remote locking and erasing.

This is an excellent app that has lots of great security features. All the protection module make you feel like the device is locked down tight and protected from malware and other threats.

 Webroot Security - Free for Android Webroot Security - Free for Android

F-Secure Mobile Security

F-Secure’s app has a major difference and unlike the other two, which offer free modes, F-Secure Mobile Security is free only for one month. After that you must subscribe and six months costs £6.30 here in the UK. So that’s just over a pound or dollar a month.

It costs more than the others, but it does offer comprehensive security. The app scans for viruses on a schedule or by starting it manually, and there is also a boot scan option.

The Application Privacy module examines the apps installed on the phone or tablet and lists them in three categories - those with many, some, few and no privacy issues. The app with the worst privacy rating was Facebook, but what can you do apart from delete it and never use it?

It is useful to be able to see privacy ratings, but often there isn’t a lot you can do about it. Just beware of apps that should not be there. Anti-theft enables the phone location to be tracked and it can be locked or erased remotely.

A call blocker enables you to block unwanted calls. A Safe Browser is provided so that browsing the web is more secure and more private than with Chrome or whatever browser you use.

The best feature of F-Secure Mobile Security is the parental controls. You get them on computers so you can control what children can do on them, but they are not standard on mobile phones and tablets.

F-Secure enables you to set daily time limits for using apps. Web content can be blocked and so can apps.

 F-Secure Mobile Security for Android F-Secure Mobile Security for Android

The best antivirus for Android is...

Which Android security app is best? Webroot Security - Free provides the most security for free and it is a great app that should keep out malware and other threats. This is my preferred security app and if you need more security features, there is a Premier Version, which is pricey at £13.49, but most people will be happy with the free features anyway.

Panda’s app looks great and is cheap for a two-year subscription, but F-Secure looks expensive, although the protection is comprehensive.