Security Apps for Mobile Phones

Is it really essential to install a security app on a mobile phone? Opinions are divided.

Many smart phone users believe they are perfectly safe relying on the mobile phone security safeguards incorporated into their Android or iOS operating systems. The distinctions often drawn between personal computer and phone risks contribute to a certain sense of mobile phone security. While the need for some kind of antivirus app on the office or home computer is universally accepted, the case for mobile antivirus is not so widely appreciated.

Others smart phone owners argue that even a very small risk of malware penetration is too great. They want to install the best mobile antivirus on the market.

Mobile Virus Threats are Regularly Discovered

Every mobile phone user needs to keep abreast of the latest virus threat news regardless of their preconceptions on the seriousness of the matter.

The fact is that new mobile phone security challenges are regularly discovered. They may be classified as worms, viruses, spyware, or malware (malicious software). The potential phone damage can range from the nuisance level to catastrophic. Regardless of what name is applied, you don’t want to find any of these on your phone.

Leading mobile phone security experts Trend Micro compile regular reports on mobile virus developments. The latest threats all relate to Android phone security:

  • Vulnerability in the debugger app exposes Android phone memory content to denial of service attacks (June 26th 2015).
  • Vulnerability of Samsung Android phones to malware code attacks (June 19th 2015).
  • Attacks on Android phones by Chinese teenage gangs. They can lock phones and demand a ransom for unlocking them (June 2nd 2015).

The Mobile Phone Security Situation is Open to Change

So far the protection integrated into Android and iOS phones has proved its worth, but there are no guarantees. The increasing amount of valuable personal data stored on mobile devices spurs on cyber criminals to seek even more sophisticated ways to circumvent their defences.

The housebreaker or robber with a knife takes a calculated risk, but the criminal earnings of the malware distributor or online scammer carry a much smaller risk of detection. All they need to do is convince you to download an infected application, click on an URL in an email, or do a banking transaction while connected via a Wi-Fi access point. When you lower your guard in one of these ways you expose yourself to identity theft with all the associated financial loss and inconvenience.

Unless you also happen to be a mobile security expert it is going to be virtually impossible to keep abreast of the changing risk situation. Today, your confidence in the security of your smart phone might be justified, but how can you be so confident in a week’s time or a month’s time? If you store personal data on your mobile, and carry out transactions you wish to keep private, even a very small risk of data theft should be unacceptable.

Free Security App Downloads

If you accept the need to install an Android antivirus or an iOS antivirus, you might be tempted to download one of the free mobile virus apps. If a free app can do the job well enough why take a paid version?

Whether or not a free antivirus will suffice depends on the protection level desired. It should be obvious that if free apps offered comprehensive solutions the developers of paid apps would go out of business.

Although installing a good free anti-virus should be better than having no additional safeguards, the extra protection gained is limited. Free security apps:

  • Lack the same scan and clean capabilities as the paid versions.
    For instance, some free security app users report that they might fail to detect or remove spyware.
  • Only support a limited number of features.
    They usually don’t include valuable features such as mobile loss and theft safeguards.
  • Host adverts.
    Often come with annoying third party advertisements.
  • Become outdated.
    They are not regularly updated to deal with the latest threats.
  • Might even host malware.
    If you don’t carefully check you are downloading from a legitimate website you could fall victim to malware designed to look like a free antivirus.

A Recommended Free Security App

One safe free security app you can download with confidence is the free version of Trend Micro Mobile Security, Antivirus, & Performance Booster app. It includes many more features than comparable free security apps, for example, a privacy scanner for Facebook, and a battery saver. You get a 30 day free trial after which you can upgrade to the paid version, or stay with the free version if you prefer.

Phone Security Features to look for — the Critical Security Apps you must have

To safeguard your mobile device the following security features are absolutely essential:

  • Full protection against malware attack.
    If asked to choose the most important phone security feature, the vast majority of users will probably choose full protection from malware. This includes effective malware blocking, detection, and removal.
  • Continual updating of threat defences.
    The ever-changing nature of the malware threat requires continual mobile antivirus updates.
  • Full technical support.
    Easy access to expert advice and full technical support whenever required
  • Anti-theft and loss safeguards.
    Some mobile security experts argue that the security integrated into the iPhone and Android phone means that protecting them against loss and theft should be your main concern. The app must provide a means to remotely locate a lost or stolen device and to delete sensitive data.

With the best mobile antivirus apps, for example Trend Micro’s Android antivirus and Trend Micro’s iOS antivirus, you can find all of these phone security features and much more besides.

Reviewing Security Apps

All the investment that Google and Apple have put into mobile phone security has significantly reduced the mobile virus threats, but success so far is no guarantee for the future. Regular reports of new attempts to circumvent their protective measures raise legitimate concerns. The serious consequence of the loss of financial and other data makes a strong case for installing a mobile antivirus app.

Free security apps can contribute to mobile phone data safety, but they do not offer the same feature range and technical support paid versions deliver. In addition to “worry free threat and virus protection” a quality mobile phone security app gives you many more valuable safeguards.

For example, Trend Micro’s mobile anti-theft and loss, data backup, and safe family internet features are well-worth having in their own right.

Neil Aitken

Having worked in 3 countries for 4 telcos on both voice and data products, Neil is in a position to give you the inside track. Get beyond the marketing messages to the best plan for you.