Several weeks back an app appeared on the Play Store on the Number 1 paid app spot, the app called “Virus Shield” was actually fake and didn’t do anything except show an image of a shield, giving thousands of people that downloaded and installed the app the idea of their device being protection from malware and virus, but it didn’t, it was fake.
That brings us to an interesting question, just like on desktop computers, are antivirus really necessary on mobile devices? Should i spend money on one or can i get a good one for free? Lets take a look depending at the operation system (android or iOS) your device is running:
On Android you are more likely to get affected by malware then on for example iOS, the app mentioned earlier in the post shows just how easy any developer can get anything in the Play Store and thats not all because of Android being so popular, recent reports and data show that hackers are mainly targeting the operation system over other platforms with more then 97% of all malware targeting Google’s mobile platform.
Should i get an antivirus / security app for Android? The short answer is Yes, you should, but don’t get an app at least not just any app. Just like “Virus Shield” 99% of the security apps on Android are pretty useless and they are only good at scanning your device for malware but not keeping you safe. Lets take a better look at what the best virus scanner is, why antiviruses are ineffective and what you can do instead to protect your device.
Why are they so ineffective? For a virus scanner to do its job correctly it needs low-level system access something that Android doesn’t allow apps to have, it only allows apps to access so much of the OS.
What is the best Malware scanner? Like i mentioned before, most of them are useless and the one i am about to recommend is too, but it is less useless. The app is called Zoner and even if it is advertised as an anti-virus you should mainly use it for its scanning capabilities, the reason why i called this app “still useless” is because over 20% of the common malware currently affecting the Android platform is not being detected by the app.
How can i protect my device instead? Instead of relying on software, you can pretty much prevent any malware to get on your device yourself, if you are careful. Here is what you should look out for:
- When installing a new app: You should be really careful as this is where most of the malware can be prevented getting into your system. What should you look out for? Make sure the permissions of the app are really necessary for the app to work, if i install (for example) a camera app and the permissions tell me it wants access to my phone contacts or send text messages, that a little odd isn’t it?
- What permissions to are important to look out for? Access to the contact list, Google accounts, Send text messages, directly call phone numbers, your location, your personal information, network communication and system tools.
- Prevent installing apps that aren’t from from the official Android Market: Don’t use any sketchy third party app stores, just stick to the Google Play Store. (See Also: Top 5 play store alternatives)
If you are using an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad well then you are lucky as malware is almost non-existent for the platform and using an Anti-virus is really unnecessary. Why? Apple doesn’t allow any apps on the App store without them previously approving them, every single app is tested by Apple and then approved or denied. If any app has any suspicious activity it is almost impossible for it to get to the actual store. But what if an app does get through? App permissions on iOS work different then on Android and an app can’t access almost any personal information on the device. All these rules don’t apply if you have a Jailbroken your iPhone.
Do you have an antivirus installed? if so which one and why? Let us know!