Smartphones and tablets have evolved into full-fledged computers in their own right and, as such, they require the same kind of protection against malware, viruses and hacking as their full-sized desktop and laptop PC counterparts. While measures can be taken to improve the security on your mobile device, like setting a more secure lock code, installing and running a mobile antivirus app is the best way to minimize the threat of a malicious infection.
5 Top Mobile Antivirus Apps
All mobile platforms are vulnerable to malicious attacks, however the overwhelming majority of mobile antivirus programs have been designed for Google Android. There were antivirus apps for the iPhone, but Apple cracked down on and removed those apps starting in March of 2015. The lack of antivirus programs for Windows Phone may be due to it being a safer platform overall.
1. AhnLab V3 Mobile Security
Beating out 24 other mobile security products for Google Android devices in evaluations conducted by independent IT security institute AV-Test in September 2015, V3 Mobile Security by AhnLab offers comprehensive protection against multiple threats to your mobile device.
Features: It can be used to safely detect and remove mobile malware, mobile ransomware, and malicious applications. V3 Mobile Security also includes the ability to help locate your lost device and to completely clear your web search, cache and clipboard data.
Download: AhnLab V3 Mobile Security for Android is a free download from the Google Play Store.
- Thorough detection of malware and mobile viruses
- Comprehensive feature set
- Minimal to no impact on battery life or performance
- Requires Android 4.0 and above
- No parental controls
- No encryption features
2. 360 Security
With some 200 million users around the world and a near perfect rating in the Google Play Store, 360 Security features "intelligent boost and clean technology." The review on AndroidTapp.com scores 360 Security as 4.5 out of 5, calling it a "well rounded set of tools" with robust malware protection and many other useful features.
Features: This app not only eliminates viruses and malware from your internal memory and external memory cards, but it also boosts the performance of your smartphone or tablet by removing apps from active memory. The app can remove unnecessary cache files on your mobile device too.
Download: Exclusively available for the Google Android platform, 360 Security can be downloaded for free from the Google Play Store.
- Very easy to use with a simple one-tap interface
- Lots of features to clear viruses and boost performance
- Real time protection against Trojans, malware and viruses
- False positives
- Large advertisements in the app manager
- May not remove all threats and infections
3. Avast Mobile Security & Antivirus
One of the most trusted names in desktop security, Avast also offers a mobile security and antivirus program for Google Android smartphones and tablets. It was ranked the highest in PC Advisor's list of the best Android security apps of 2015, boasting "a wide breadth of features and the best anti-theft tools."
Features: In addition to scanning for viruses, Avast can block calls and text messages, remotely snap a photo with the front or rear camera via a web console or text message command, and find lost or stolen phones through a web-based locator tool. It can also scan and block malware-infected links.
Download: While Avast Mobile Security & Antivirus is listed as a free download in the Google Play Store, an optional subscription of $1.99/month or $14.99/year is required to unlock premium features like app locking, password checking, and geofencing.
- Comprehensive security solution
- Robust anti-theft features with remote photos and audio
- Scans links for Trojans
- Antivirus protection could be more proactive
- Requires premium subscription for all features
- May miss some infections
Providing users with a slick interface that easy to use and understand, Lookout comes with a wealth of security and privacy features to protect your smartphone or tablet. It earns a score of 4 out of 5 and an "Excellent" rating from PC Magazine.
Features: The dashboard displays a live activity feed, protecting against malware and viruses. In its most recent evaluation with AV-Test, Lookout was able to detect 99.4 percent of malware samples. The free version comes with anti-malware protection, contact backups and a remote locate feature, but the premium subscription is needed for safe browsing, remote lock, and a privacy advisor that scans your phone for apps that could leak sensitive data.
Download: The Lookout Security & Antivirus app is available for free or as a premium app for the Google Android platform. A different version is available for iPhone. The iPhone version lacks antivirus or anti-malware protection. Lookout Premium is $2.99/month or $29.99/year and is an available upgrade for either platform.
- Generally fast and unobtrusive
- Privacy Advisor protects against private data breaches
- Watches for suspicious activity
- Requires premium subscription for full protection
- Limited backup options
- Lack of antivirus for iOS
5. Kaspersky Internet Security
Kaspersky has long since protected Windows computers against viruses and other threats and this has been extended to modern mobile devices with Kaspsersky Internet Security for Android. Rather than offering as comprehensive a suite as possible, Kaspersky has kept this app to within the realm of mobile virus protection. Other Kaspersky apps are available for other features like parental controls and data backup.
Features: Earning a near perfect 9.6 out of 10 overall score and a perfect 10 out of 10 score for protection by Top Ten Reviews, Kaspersky Internet Security was found to detect and stop 100 percent of malicious apps. System scans can be conducted on demand or on a pre-defined schedule, while protection against malicious files is offered in real time. Proactive protection against malicious websites is also included.
Download: The Kaspersky Internet Security app can be found in the Google Play Store for Google Android smartphones and tablets. It is a free download, while Premium mode includes cloud-enabled protection, privacy protection, text anti-phishing and other features. That costs $14.95 (regular price) for protection of a single device for a full year with discounts offered for multiple years or multiple devices.
- Full and complete protection against malware and viruses
- Scheduled full system scans, just like on a desktop
- Great usability
- Premium version needed for real-time protection
- Does not include data backup utility
- Full system scans not as fast as some other antivirus apps
Keeping Your Phone Safe
Protecting your mobile device is a key to keeping the device - and your personal information! - safe. Even if an antivirus or anti-malware program is not available for your mobile device of choice, exercise caution and good judgement to avoid phishing scams, malware and hacking. If a website or app looks suspicious, it is best to avoid it.