Yes, the skeptics were right.
Smartphones are not as secure as they were first marketed to be. They appeared secure simply because the platform was new. They entered our daily lives and provided ease of use, at the same time becoming a tool for a new wave of cybercrime.
Smartphone security has in fact proven to be quite inadequate by current standards and securing android devices requires looking differently at the connected world they helped create.
Read on to find out what we’re up against and how we can secure our devices with the best android antivirus apps.
Historically, computer security was limited to email scams and viruses. But as the technological world became more complex, so did the cybercrime. Smartphones have resulted in cybercriminals finding new and novel ways to attack, breach privacy and steal information.
Some examples of the most common forms of attack include:
Ads or Adware
Applications that help us out without taking anything in return sound too good to be true. Most of the time what they offer in return are advertisements.
These ads are harmful in multiple ways, with two being very obvious:
- They take away your attention and waste bandwidth and processing power.
- They monitor data and depending on the app, may sell it too.
Data Miners & Rogues
These are applications that silently monitor your traffic and whatever else your device is being used for. They also make your device vulnerable to more malicious apps being installed.
Such apps aren’t usually available at the standard Play Store, more often being found in shady app stores. You would think that this isn’t a common phenomenon, but the discovery of millions of malicious installation packages proves otherwise.
Receiving a harmless message doesn’t seem like a big deal. Unless the sender appears to be your bank, asking for re-confirmation of the password for your online banking account.
Every app you see is a piece of code and phishers are masters of mimicking the behavior of your trusted apps to gain access to their desired data.
Which One Do I Choose?
It can be hard to know which antivirus is going to perform to the standard we need now that security threats are varied and numerous. The experts at AV-Test labs perform tests independently and provide important research material for antivirus developers to base their products on. They run a number of different tests and share their results on different attributes. These form a standard that make it easier to choose a high-performing program.
Programs are tested according to the following attributes and the one that scores well on all, constitutes a good antivirus program.
Ideally, an antivirus program should stop all of the threats it finds. But in order to do so, it needs to first detect all the threats. Consequently, detection rate is a pretty important component of testing an antivirus’ performance.
Smartphones are already running multiple functions in the background. It doesn’t matter how good the antivirus program is if it inhibits normal use.
The heavier the processing load, the quicker the battery drains and the last time we checked, smartphones only have one battery. Performance efficiency is thus an important factor in grading the program.
If your antivirus continues to identify legitimate programs as viruses, then chances are either you will have a very few apps left or your trust in the antivirus will deteriorate.
When the antivirus can’t always differentiate a virus from a normal program, this is called a false positive. The fewer false positives a program gives, the better.
There Is More…
You now know what an antivirus program should be looking for when protecting your Android phone.
And, you know which aspects you should be looking for in an antivirus to determine its worthiness.
But, there are further features worth looking into that don’t directly relate to detecting malware but do contribute to overall security.
- Call blocking/Message Filtering – to take care of those phishers and scammers.
- Encryption/Secure Browsers – to secure all outgoing data, your privacy and stop websites filled with popups, ads, and malware from loading.
- Antitheft – to make your device unusable if it is stolen.
These features are considered an essential part of any antivirus these days. Many antivirus developers have their own take on these, some even provide unique features.
While some of these can become a deciding factor for you, we urge you to not overlook encryption. Not all the antivirus programs provide it. If you happen to select the one that does not, then it is high time you choose a good VPN service too. A VPN takes care of half the security and privacy threats itself by keeping you hidden and anonymous. But we’ll leave that for another time.