The Best Antivirus Apps for Android of 2021
Compare the best antivirus
There are a lot of malicious apps for Android. In fact, some antivirus for Android are so ineffective, that even they can be considered malware. Of the 250 antivirus tested, 138 detected less than 30% of all malware samples.
The best apps will allow you to become anonymous online and safe on public WiFi. They will help you to locate, lock and wipe your phone when stolen. They will generate and store secure passwords for you. And, of course, keep you safe from malware and hackers.
The best antivirus for your Android smartphone or tablet are:
Perfect protection, and the best privacy features.
- Malware Protection 100% 100%
- Online Privacy 100% 100%
Perfect protection, anti-theft, and privacy features.
- Malware Protection 100% 100%
- Online Privacy 100% 100%
Perfect protection, but missing a few privacy features.
- Malware Protection 100% 100%
- Online Privacy 91% 91%
- Malware Protection 96% 96%
- Online Privacy 46% 46%
Perfect protection, but caught-up in a privacy scandal.
- Malware Protection 100% 100%
- Online Privacy 41% 41%
Norton Mobile Security Review
Verdict: Perfect protection, and the best privacy features
- Perfect anti-malware for Android: Norton detected and deleted 100% of the 3,102 malware samples during the Real Time Protection Test.
- No impact on the speed of your Android device: During the test, Norton did not influence the battery life or operating speed of the device.
- Anti-phishing: Get a warning before you surf to malicious websites attempting to steal your data, like credit card information.
- WiFi security: Receive a warning when you attempt to connect to a WiFi network known to fraud users out of their personal and financial data.
- Device security: Be informed about any vulnerabilities your device might have, so you can take action.
- No more anti-theft features: Norton removed the anti-theft features in their update of December 2019.
Instead of getting Norton Mobile Security, we recommend getting Norton 360 Standard which includes all of the above, and adds a limitless Virtual Private Network (VPN) and a Password Manager.
- Using the VPN, you can encrypt your internet connection to become anonymous online and safe from hackers, even on public WiFi.
- Using the password manager, you can create and store unique passwords for all your accounts. If one account gets hacked, all others stay safe.
For a more in-depth look, read Norton’s full review.
BitDefender Mobile Security Review
Verdict: Perfect protection, anti-theft, and privacy features
- Perfect anti-malware for Android: BitDefender removed 100% of the 3,102 malware samples used in the Real Time Protection Test.
- No impact on the speed of your phone or tablet: BitDefender did not slow the device down or impact the battery life in the Performance Test.
- Anti-phishing: Fraudulent websites, that are known for stealing credit card information or other sensitive data, are blocked.
- Anti-theft: Remotely locate, lock and wipe your device. You can also send a message to your home screen in case the device is lost.
- App-lock: Set a secret code on your sensitive apps, and optionally, select trusted WiFi networks to automatically unlock the apps.
- Free VPN: Encrypt your internet connection to become anonymous online, hide your IP address, and be safe from hackers on public WiFi.
- Account privacy: Automatically be informed if any of your online accounts are hacked so you can take action.
- WearOn: Extend the protection to your smart watch, and use your watch to play a sound on your smartphone when you can’t find it.
- Free VPN limited to 200mb per day: If you want access to the unlimited VPN, it will cost extra.
For a more in-depth look, read BitDefender’s full review.
Kaspersky Mobile Antivirus Review
Verdict: Perfect protection, but missing a few privacy features
- Perfect anti-malware for Android: Kaspersky found and removed 100% of the 3,102 malware used in the Real Time Protection Test.
- No impact on the speed of your phone: Kaspersky did not negatively impact the operating speed of the test phone or its battery life.
- Anti-phishing: Dangerous websites and files are blocked automatically, so you can’t get into trouble. You can also block annoying phone numbers.
- Anti-theft: Find you phone and/or perform a full reset if your phone gets stolen. You can also remotely sound an alarm or take a photo of the thief.
- App-lock: You can set a secret code on your most sensitive apps, adding an extra layer of security.
- No Free VPN: BitDefender’s mobile security (priced at the same level) includes a free VPN.
For a more in-depth look, read Kaspersky’s full review.
McAfee Mobile Security Review
- Near-perfect protection from malware: McAfee detected 99.6% of the 3,102 malware samples used in the Malware Detection Test.
- No impact on the speed of you device: McAfee did not impact the operating speed or battery life of the Android test phone.
- Anti-phishing: You will receive a warning before accessing websites that attempt to steal your sensitive information, like credit card data.
- Anti-theft: Find you phone on a map in case you lose it, or wipe it in case it gets stolen. You will also be able to remotely take a photo of the thief.
- App-lock: Add an additional security layer, buy protecting your favourite apps with a passcode.
- Optional VPN: On the – very expensive – McAfee Mobile Security Plus, you’ll get a VPN too, allowing you to become anonymous online.
For a more in-depth look, read McAfee’s full review.
Avast Mobile Security Review
Verdict: Perfect protection, but caught-up in a privacy scandal
- Perfect anti-malware for Android: Avast detected and deleted 100% of the 3,102 malware samples it was exposed to in the test.
- Anti-phishing: Avast protects you from visiting websites that will attempt to steal your personal and financial information.
- Anti-theft: Find, lock and wipe your phone if it gets stolen. You can also, remotely, take a photo of the thief with your front camera.
- App-lock: Secure your photos and most sensitive apps by pin, fingerprint or pattern.
- Optional VPN: With the additional VPN, you can encrypt your internet connection and become anonymous online, even on public WiFi.
- Free: Most of the features mentioned here are accessible completely for free. But you’ll run the risk of your data being collected and sold by Avast.
- Negative impact on the speed of your device: Avast had a measurable impact on the operating speed and battery life of the test phone.
- Privacy scandal: Avast collected and sold the online browsing behaviour of its users through its subsidiary Jumpshot.
For a more in-depth look, read Avast’s full review.
Most Common Malware
What is Adware?
Adware is usually free software designed for one or two reasons. Legitimate reasons include product-sponsored advertisements, redirects to sponsored websites, and service trials. Adware used for malicious purposes falls under the category of spyware, as in it can track the user’s browsing preferences, collect and transmit sensitive data, and compromise their privacy and security.
Other terms used for adware are pitchware and freeware. Most adware software tends to be web-based and is often installed on the end-user’s device through pop-ups, links, or files and other programs that have adware software embedded in them. Not all adware operates covertly on a user’s device. However, specific anti-adware software is still required to remove such applications.
What is Antivirus?
An antivirus or anti-virus software is a program that can search hard drives, external storage devices, and other external media for viruses, worms, and other types of malware. It’s a utility tool or suite of programs designed to detect, quarantine, remove, and prevent threats from making their way onto a computer or network of computers.
This type of software can either identify viruses by using a dictionary or database of sorts of known viruses. Antivirus software can also flag any type of suspicious behavior, which is why some cracked programs that tend to change various settings or files to operate in an unintended way often have files flagged as threats.
What is a Botnet?
A botnet is an interconnected network of devices, each of which can carry one or more internet bots. Since those bots can be used to perform automated tasks such as launching DDoS attacks or SQL injection attacks, a botnet is often used for powerful disruptive attacks on databases, servers, networks, or even well-protected individual devices.
A common term for a botnet is zombie army. That’s because the devices used in botnet attacks are unwilling participants and mere hosts to internet bots that operate covertly. In most cases, users don’t even know that their computer is part of one such network. Botnets are often rented by their owners to whoever needs the superior computing power and a stealthy way of attacking a target.
What is a Computer Exploit?
A computer exploit can be anything from a few lines of code to various malware programs that can take advantage of some vulnerability in an application, network connection, or even hardware components. Computer exploits are used for numbers of malicious actions such as stealing sensitive information, establishing backdoor access, stealing bank account details, corrupting data, etc.
Some computer exploits are discovered by security firms that hack their clients systems in order to discover and point out certain vulnerabilities. One of the most dangerous types of exploits is known as a zero-day exploit. It is virtually impossible to defend against because it uses newly discovered hardware and software vulnerabilities that haven’t yet been patched by developers.
What is a Computer Virus?
Any self-replicating malicious code or program is classified as a computer virus. If it has the ability to copy its code into other programs or rewrite parts of code from other programs to suit its needs and propagate, it is referred to as a computer virus. Viruses have various subclasses, each with a clear definition based on its behavior and purpose.
Although computer viruses can enter systems via unprotected networks or by downloading files, attachments, and infected programs on the end-user device, a virus won’t start affecting the system until the corrupted file is opened. Most viruses can be detected, moved to quarantine, and removed before causing any harm when using up-to-date antivirus software.
What is a Computer Worm?
Computer worms are a type of malicious software. They form a subcategory of viruses which can propagate without human help. This means that there is no need to open files or programs for the worm to copy itself multiple times and spread through a network.
Most often, computer worms enter through unprotected network connections. They can be used to slow down the performance of multiple devices. Another common use involves the delivery of a payload which can establish backdoor access into a system. This backdoor access leaves the system unprotected against other malware threats and allows hackers to remotely control the infected device or network.
What is Computer Hacking?
Computer hacking can be used for both good and bad things. It gets its negative connotation because of its use in stealing information, money, corrupting data, and other actions that come as a result of unauthorized intrusion into a network of computers or individual devices.
When used for noble reasons, computer hacking is done either by freelance hackers, benevolent activists, or security companies in order to find vulnerabilities in programs and systems. Once found, patches can be developed and implemented to prevent future exploit attempts from being successful.
What is Cybercrime?
Cybercrime or computer crime is a class of crimes that involve either targeting computers and networks or using them as tools to commit acts of crime, as defined by law. For example, phishing is a cybercrime as it is often used to illegally obtain sensitive information, login credentials, and even sensitive personal information.
Identity theft can also be a cybercrime when hacking or malware programs are used to obtain a person’s identifying information either for the hacker’s personal gain or sale to an interested party. Some classify cybercrimes depending on the target: either computer systems or device owners. There are, however, multiple subtypes of cybercrime, each with its own specific legislation and form of punishment.
What is a DDoS Attack?
DDoS attacks or distributed denial-of-service attacks are most often web-based and target large corporations, enterprises, online marketplaces, and other similar businesses. They are designed to disrupt the normal operation flow by slowing it down. This happens when too much internet traffic is redirected at the target, effectively flooding the bandwidth and compromising the performance of software and hardware components.
DDoS attacks are usually carried out through a botnet. The larger the botnet, the more powerful the attack since more bots are able to generate more incoming data to the target. Advanced firewall protection is usually required to prevent DDoS attacks from causing damage.
What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft is quickly becoming the bread and butter of most cybercriminals due to the sheer number of ways in which one can gain personal identifying information from someone over the internet. Anything that leads to the theft of identifying information that could be used to replicate an identity or create a new one is considered identity theft.
In cybercrime, there isn’t a specific designation for identity theft involving the use of computers or means of electronic communication. Identity theft is still also practiced via low-tech methods like dumpster diving, stealing documents, or physically listening in on confidential conversations. Phishing is often used for identity theft, particularly to steal login credentials and online banking information.
What is a Keylogger?
Keyloggers are software or hardware devices that can monitor and record keystrokes on a keyboard. Some record keystrokes once a specific user has entered their account, while others record everything from the moment a device boots up. Most hardware keyloggers need a constant physical connection with the device in order to record information. Some may also be able to steal from devices without an internet connection if they have their own built-in Wi-Fi antenna.
While not always used for illegal activities, keyloggers usually imply something negative. Due to their ability to record such important actions and their design that allows them to operate covertly, they are used in creating backdoors, stealing confidential information, obtaining credit card information, and even as aids in identity theft.
What is Malware?
Malware is a broad category of potentially harmful software designed to take advantage of various vulnerabilities in foreign systems and networks. It can refer to everything from computer worms and viruses to ransomware, spyware, and zero-day exploits.
Protection against malware is usually achieved by using an antivirus suite with multiple safeguards such as threat detection, spyware and adware removal, firewall, etc. Double-checking file attachments and suspicious links is also something to keep in mind when trying to avoid infecting a device with malware.
What is Phishing?
Phishing is a type of social engineering technique in which the perpetrator either poses as a trustworthy entity or establishes trustworthy domains or email addresses for the purpose of stealing valuable information or getting people to download and open infected files on their devices.
This is one of those scams that can be easily avoided at times. Most antivirus programs might not be able to flag fake links or domain names. However, they should flag potentially infected files once downloaded onto a storage drive. The best protection against phishing remains exercising caution and understanding that very few legitimate entities will ever ask you to share personal information via email or social media, which makes any such request suspicious.
What is Ransomware?
Ransomware is software that uses advanced encryption techniques to put a strangle hold on files, documents, and other data on the target device or a network or devices. Once the files are encrypted, they cannot be used again without the encryption key. This is where the “ransom” in ransomware comes in, as most attackers ask for a ransom in exchange for said key.
This type of software can be installed via backdoor access or by the victim after downloading and accessing infected files or programs. Ransomware is also sometimes used in blackmailing. In these scenarios, the perpetrators inform their victims that their personal files have been copied and are ready to be made public. The only way to avoid it is to pay the ransom, usually in untraceable digital currencies.
What is a Rootkit?
A rootkit is one of the most dangerous types of malware that can affect a computer or network of computers. Some rootkits may be standalone programs that install a backdoor through which they grant hackers remote access to a system. Others are much more complex and act as malware suites capable of performing various actions on the target system.
Rootkit suites often contain Trojan worms, keyloggers, spyware, and viruses that can break into a system, leave a backdoor open, and corrupt, steal, or even erase data. Think of a rootkit as the exact opposite of an antivirus suite which provides total protection on multiple fronts.
What is a Scam?
Scams are frauds that can be carried out both online and offline. Most online scams that are classified and tried under cybercrime laws involve stealing information or compromising the victim’s security. Scams can target individuals, groups, organizations, or even governments.
In computer security, scams often involve various social engineering techniques for the purpose of committing fraud (tax fraud, donation fraud, auction fraud, etc.), identity theft, or even obtaining information for use in targeted marketing campaigns. Scams aren’t to be confused with cons. Sometimes a scam is just a step in a larger con.
What is Social Engineering?
Social engineering, when referred to in the context of computer security and cybercrime, involves any action that makes use of psychological manipulation techniques against individuals or groups of people. These actions often result in extorting, information, or gathering information for financial gain.
Another common use for social engineering is to gain an advantage over the competition by compromising data, stealing research, or modifying data to make the competitor look bad. Corporate espionage is also considered a technique of social engineering. Phishing is a popular choice for most cybercriminals who favor attacks based on social engineering principles.
What is Spam?
Sending any type of electronic messages in bulk can be classified as spam, if said messages are unwanted and unsolicited by the recipient. Spam is not considered illegal unless certain aspects of social engineering are used for access to information. Most often, spam is used in marketing campaigns for services and products.
It is considered an economical way of advertising, even though most email service providers do a good job of filtering out spam emails. That being said, the term spam doesn’t only refer to email messages. It also refers to spam chat, instant messaging, blog posts, fake news updates, and other types of electronic messages that are delivered in bulk.
What is Email, IP, or DNS Spoofing?
In short, spoofing is the action of disguising an email, IP, or DNS (domain name system) for the purpose of establishing credibility.
Unknown email sources are sometimes spoofed to appear as trustworthy email addresses from banks, internet service providers, or even law enforcement agencies. Such emails contain messages that attempt to trick people into sharing their identifying information, divulging their financial credentials, or sending money.
IP spoofing can also be used with malicious intent if the spoofed IP address allows access to restricted networks. Other times, it is used by VPN software to allow users access to restricted websites or to bypass georestrictions and access multimedia content they can’t access from their actual location.
DNS spoofing is also dangerous. It can be used to divert traffic from legitimate websites to fake websites that look good on paper but could be infested with viruses, spyware, adware, and other types of malware.
What is Spyware?
Spyware is malware that can operate covertly on the target’s device. Its job is usually to monitor, record, and transmit information to a third party. That information could contain anything from keystrokes to browsing patterns and browsing history.
Often carrying a negative connotation, spyware is an offshoot of adware. As such, the term can refer to a number of programs such as keyloggers, tracking cookies, system monitors, or even Trojan viruses. Most often, spyware removal software needs to be used to completely eliminate spyware from infected systems. Regular antivirus programs may not work, but an antivirus suite with spyware removal capabilities should do the trick.
What is an SQL Injection Attack?
SQL injection attacks are web-based attacks directed at user-input fields in a targeted database. Such attacks are used in an attempt to steal information like usernames and passwords. In poorly executed and managed websites, such SQL queries can bypass user-input fields and allow access to the information stored in the database.
As a result, information can be stolen, corrupted, modified, or even deleted. These types of attacks are often carried out against online vendors. That’s because forms such as login forms, feedback forms, shopping cart forbs, and request forms are theoretically vulnerable to SQL injection attacks. These attacks are highly popular against both ill-protected and well-protected databases. However, only the latter manage to avoid any serious damage.
What is a Trojan Horse?
Adequately named after an ancient infiltration tactic used in warfare, a Trojan horse is known in computer security as an apparently benign piece of software that can do a lot of damage to a system, establish remote access, or steal sensitive information once activated. It is a type of malware that falls under the computer virus category.
Unlike other computer viruses, a Trojan virus isn’t designed with self-replicating capabilities. It is instead spread through various social engineering techniques. However, it is still a dangerous type of malware, even without the ability to spread itself onto other systems in a network. That’s because it has the ability to grant unauthorized access or download other viruses with self-replicating properties.
What is a Zero-Day Exploit?
A zero-day exploit can be considered the holy grail of any hacker with a criminal agenda. Zero-day exploits refer to those computer exploits (both hardware and software-based) that allow criminals to take advantage of undiscovered, unpublicized, or as of yet unresolved vulnerabilities. If the person using the exploit is the only one that knows about the vulnerability, then it is called a zero-day exploit.
Though very few choose to share these exploits for fear of losing their advantage, some exploits eventually get publicized. Once they become common knowledge, the rush to write a patch for the vulnerability begins. The exploit is also no longer called a zero-day exploit but becomes an N-day exploit. The N in the name stands for the number of days since the exploit has been made public knowledge.
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