Smartphones, our pocket gateway to the web and a lifeline to the connected world. An Ofcom survey showed that around 66% of Brits own a smartphone in 2015 with that figure undoubtedly rising into 2016, but how well are we protected?
We are a connected nation, but are you ready to fight against the evils of the web and keep your phone safe? If so how can you keep the cost down and what options are available when it comes to smartphone security?
The vast majority of us connect to the internet on a daily basis, so the need for greater (or any) security measures on our smartphones are higher than ever, with risks of infection and data breach an issue for almost every device.
In the same way your desktop or laptop may be open to threats, smartphones have the additional danger of being mobile, often connecting to multiple unguarded public WiFi hotspots.
You can often tell when your smartphone may have a virus as the symptoms will be fairly similar to that of a PC virus, such as lagging, strange messages or apps crashing, however many forms of malware can simply lay silent waiting for the moment to extort your data or secure information.
Just to put it further into perspective, earlier this year 600 million Samsung Galaxy phones were “exposed” to hackers. It turned out that researchers had discovered a significant security flaw that meant hackers could use the pre-installed keyboard software (which cannot be deleted) to spy on the activities of the phone owner. It’s one of many hacking stories from this year alone, so it’s protecting your phone the moment you get it is essential.
There are various ways to safeguard your smartphone, from high-quality authentic anti-virus and malware software (Like McAfee, Norton, Panda & Kaspersky), to free service which we’ll talk about here… and of course, third party software.
To help tackle smartphone fraud, numerous apps have been developed to protect your smartphone from malicious software. They will be relevant to your operating system, such as Android or iOS, and offer a variety of protection packages depending on the quality, and often cost of the software. Although mobile security is often lighter (in terms of size) most services work from an up to date cloud database so the protection you get is still relevant.
So without further ado, here are some of the most effective free security apps that you can find for your smartphone today:
Designed for the Android operating system, the Avast! Mobile Security & Antivirus app is a comprehensive service which offers an impressive list of features, all for free! As well as antivirus protection, there is also a potential unwanted application (PUA) service which detects when potentially bad apps access your phone via legitimate downloads. Avast! also protects you from privacy loss and identity theft with its back-up feature and tracking service.
Another established security app comes in the form of 360 Security, a popular program which protects your device from viruses, malware, adware and trojans whilst improving operating speeds and optimising background apps at the same time. Its detection rate for finding and preventing malicious downloads is extremely impressive – the threat of infection is often reduced by 100% (claimed by 360). Extras include a memory booster, junk file cleaner and anti-theft tool to remotely wipe your phone if stolen. Unfortunately this app is only available for Android and for Mac, but there are talks of it becoming an app on iOS.
Lookout Security & Antivirus
The Lookout Security and Antivirus software is a free download for both Android and iOS smartphones, offering high-level protection against security threats. Along with the expected anti-virus software comes a valuable ‘Find My Phone’ feature – this means your device can be located from anywhere when logged into your Lookout account. Scanning for viruses and other dodgy software is performed continuously, whilst phone data can also be backed up or saved to a PC. It’s an extremely handy app that’s highly rated by its users.
McAfee Mobile Security
Perhaps best recognised for its desktop computer security software, McAfee also provides a free app designed for smartphones across numerous operating systems. Its scanning technology is expectedly thorough, ploughing deep into your files and existing apps to find any potential threats. Privacy options are offered in abundance, such as an App Lock and Call/SMS Blocker. Included also are many anti-theft measures, including a nifty feature where your phone automatically takes a picture and emails it you if someone enters an incorrect PIN. It’s one of the very best apps in this list and has been given a 4 star rating by its users on both Android and iOS. Although this software is free, you’ll need to pay for the higher protection edition.
iVault is a free app designed for Apple smartphones to help you protect private photos and videos from potential hackers. By saving these files into the iVault software, or using the easy Wi-Fi transfer feature, your media is further protected by additional passwords. For increased security, there is also a way to set up individual folder passwords, decoy passwords and to even hide certain files from view. Personal photographs are one of the main reasons why mobile phones are hacked, so protect yourself sooner rather than later.
Smartphones are most vulnerable when connecting to public Wi-Fi networks, notably when passwords are involved. Most internet users will use the same password for multiple sites, and indeed choose a ‘weak’ password for quicker access at that. LastPass is a free app available for all types of smartphone (Android, BlackBerry, iOS, or Windows Phone) which encrypts data under one master password. When you have selected this, they will create very strong passwords for all the websites you use, taking the hassle out of remembering and entering different codes on a regular basis. It’s one of the best-rated security apps and gets fantastic reviews on a regular basis.
Guest Post by Jade Waddy, editor of Big Brother All Security and technology journalist.