Do Android Phones Need Antivirus? How to Stay Safe (2023)

By Tibor Moes / Updated: June 2023

Does Android Phones Need Antivirus

Do Android Phones Need Antivirus?

With the ever-growing popularity of Android devices, the debate about the necessity of antivirus apps continues to rage. Is it worth investing in antivirus software for your Android device, or can you rely on built-in security features and safe browsing practices?

In this blog post, we’ll delve into the security risks associated with Android devices, discuss Google’s built-in security measures, and help you evaluate the top antivirus apps for Android. Brace yourself for an in-depth look at Android security in 2023!

Summary

  • Android is more customizable than iOS, but therefor also less safe. There are a lot of malware out there targeting Android phones.
  • On top of that, there are phishing attacks, malicious apps, and scam calls that can lead to identity theft.
  • We recommend installing antivirus software for Android that includes an app scanner, password manager, and VPN, like Norton.

Don’t become a victim of cybercrime. Protect your devices with the best antivirus software and your privacy with the best VPN service.

Understanding Android Security Risks

Android devices, including android phones, are no strangers to security risks. From malware threats to phishing attacks and scam calls, there’s a lot to be aware of when using an Android phone. The open nature of Android allows for greater customizability, but it also leaves devices more vulnerable to malicious software than their Apple counterparts. That’s why antivirus software is often recommended for Android devices, ensuring they stay safe from malware and other threats.

But what exactly are these security risks lurking in the digital shadows? Let’s break them down into three main categories: malware threats, phishing and scam calls, and app vulnerabilities. Each poses a unique danger to your Android device, and understanding them is the first step to keeping your phone secure.

Malware Threats

Malware threats on Android devices come in various forms, including Trojans, ransomware, spyware, and malicious apps. These threats can wreak havoc on your device, from making unauthorized calls and sending texts to premium numbers, leading to unexpected charges. With Android malware constantly evolving, it’s essential to stay vigilant and protect your device with security software that can detect and block these threats.

Unfortunately, malware can find its way onto Android devices through various channels, such as cheap phones with pre-installed malware, shady email attachments, exploits of popular apps, phishing scams, and suspicious download links. To counter these threats, it’s crucial to keep security software up to date and use Android’s default security settings, which we’ll discuss in more detail later.

Phishing and Scam Calls

Phishing attacks and scam calls are another major security concern for Android phone users. In phishing attacks, cybercriminals attempt to steal personal information by posing as a legitimate entity and tricking users into providing sensitive data, such as passwords or banking details.

Scam calls, on the other hand, aim to extract money or personal information from users, often by deploying techniques like “spoofing,” where the caller ID appears to be from a legitimate business or organization.

Both phishing and scam calls can lead to the installation of malicious software on your Android device if you’re not careful. Protecting yourself against such threats requires awareness, skepticism, and a healthy dose of caution. Always double-check the legitimacy of any email or caller before providing any sensitive information or downloading attachments.

App Vulnerabilities

App vulnerabilities are weaknesses in an application’s code that hackers can exploit to gain access to sensitive data or perform malicious actions. Common app vulnerabilities include insufficient authorization/authentication, insecure data storage, insecure communication, weak authentication, and code tampering.

Malware can be sneakily added to android apps downloaded from non-official app stores, putting your Android device at risk. To minimize the risk of falling victim to app vulnerabilities, it’s essential to download apps only from trusted sources, such as the Google Play Store, and keep your device’s software and security updates current.

By staying informed about app vulnerabilities and taking the necessary precautions, you can significantly reduce the risk of your Android device becoming compromised.

Google Play Protect and Built-in Android Security Features

Google understands the security concerns of Android users and has implemented various built-in security features to help keep devices safe. One such feature is Google Play Protect, a security system that scans apps from the Play Store and third-party sources, notifies users of any malicious apps, and provides browsing protection when using Google Chrome.

However, while Google Play Protect and other built-in Android security features are helpful, they may not always be enough to protect your device from all threats. Monthly security updates fix vulnerabilities in Android systems, but not all manufacturers provide these updates in a timely manner or at all. Furthermore, default security settings may not provide adequate protection for users who download apps from unknown sources or engage in other risky behaviors.

In these cases, additional antivirus protection may be necessary.

Google Play Protect Functionality

Google Play Protect offers an added layer of security for Android devices by using machine learning algorithms to scan apps from the Google Play Store before downloading them, helping users feel safe. It also scans apps on the device to detect and prevent any malicious activity.

However, Google Play Protect has its limitations, as it cannot detect and stop malicious activity from apps that aren’t from the Google Play Store and doesn’t provide real-time protection from malicious activity.

In essence, Google Play Protect is a valuable tool that can help protect your Android device from many threats, but it’s not a foolproof solution. To ensure comprehensive protection, it’s essential to combine Google Play Protect’s functionality with regular software and security updates and safe browsing practices, which we’ll discuss in the next section.

Monthly Security Updates

Monthly security updates are crucial in keeping your Android system secure by fixing any vulnerabilities that hackers could exploit. These updates help stop new vulnerabilities and exploits from becoming a problem, ensuring that your Android device remains protected against emerging threats.

However, not all Android devices receive monthly security updates. Some devices may not get them due to their age or the manufacturer’s policies. In such cases, it’s even more critical to consider additional antivirus protection to safeguard your device from potential security risks.

Default Security Settings

The default security settings of Android are designed to protect users against unknown sources, so it’s best not to change them unless you trust the application or download service. Accessing the Security section in the Settings menu allows you to enable Google Play Protect, set up a screen lock, and review app permissions regularly.

By using Android’s default security settings, you can protect your device from many malicious apps and other threats. Remember, though, that these settings are not foolproof, and additional antivirus protection might still be necessary, especially for users who download apps from untrustworthy sources or have devices that no longer receive security updates.

Evaluating the Need for Antivirus Apps on Android Devices

Determining whether an antivirus app is necessary for your Android device depends on several factors, including how you use your device and whether it’s vulnerable to security threats. For some users, built-in security features and safe browsing practices may be sufficient to protect their devices from most threats. However, others may require additional antivirus protection, especially if their devices are no longer receiving security updates or they download apps from untrustworthy sources.

To decide whether an antivirus app is right for your Android device, it’s essential to assess your device usage and identify any vulnerabilities that may put your device at risk. In the following sections, we’ll guide you through this process.

Assessing Your Device Usage

Device usage assessment is the process of evaluating how someone uses their mobile device, looking at the apps they use, the websites they visit, and the risks associated with their usage. This involves initiation, information gathering, risk analysis, and a written report.

To ensure the security of your Android device without an antivirus app, it’s crucial to practice safe browsing, keep an eye on app permissions, and regularly update the device’s security settings.

By assessing your device usage and understanding the associated risks, you can make an informed decision about whether an antivirus app is necessary for your Android device. If your device is used primarily for basic tasks, such as browsing the web and using pre-installed apps from the Google Play Store, you may not need additional antivirus protection.

However, if you frequently download apps from unknown sources or engage in other risky behaviors, an antivirus app may be a wise investment.

Identifying Vulnerable Devices

Vulnerable devices are those with weaknesses or flaws in their software or design that can be exploited by attackers to gain access and compromise the security of the device or network. Identifying vulnerable devices involves checking for outdated software, weak passwords, and unpatched security flaws.

To protect vulnerable devices, ensure that software is always up to date, use strong passwords, and employ security tools like antivirus software. By identifying and addressing vulnerabilities in your Android device, you can better protect it from potential security risks and determine whether additional antivirus protection is necessary.

Top Recommended Antivirus Apps for Android

If you’ve determined that your Android device requires additional protection, there are several top-rated android antivirus software options available to help safeguard your device. Two of the most highly recommended antivirus apps for Android are Norton Mobile Security for Android and Bitdefender Mobile Security for Android.

These apps offer robust protection against various security threats and include additional features to enhance your device’s security.

#1 Norton Mobile Security for Android

Norton Mobile Security for Android is a powerful security solution that provides protection against cyber threats, malware scanning, Wi-Fi security, and website protection. Additionally, it includes parental controls, making it an excellent choice for families looking to safeguard their Android devices. Priced at just $30 a year, Norton Mobile Security for Android offers comprehensive protection at an affordable cost.

By choosing Norton Mobile Security for Android, you can protect your device from a wide range of threats and enjoy peace of mind knowing that your personal information and Android device are secure.

#2 Bitdefender Mobile Security for Android

Bitdefender Mobile Security for Android is another top-rated antivirus app, designed to protect your Android smartphones and tablets from viruses and privacy intrusions. It offers unbeatable cloud-based malware detection and a range of smart tools to help monitor your device’s security and privacy. Bitdefender has consistently scored high ratings from both AV-Test and AV-Comparatives for real-time attacks and widespread malware tests, ensuring that your Android device remains protected from emerging threats.

By opting for Bitdefender Mobile Security for Android, you’ll benefit from comprehensive protection against malware and other security threats, giving you peace of mind and confidence in your device’s security.

Tips for Ensuring Android Security Without Antivirus Apps

While antivirus apps can provide an extra layer of protection for your Android device, it’s essential to practice safe browsing and app permissions management to ensure your device’s security without relying solely on antivirus apps.

In the following sections, we’ll provide tips on how to maintain a secure Android device without the need for additional antivirus protection.

Safe Browsing Practices

To practice safe browsing on your Android device, make sure your browser is always up-to-date and avoid visiting questionable websites, clicking on suspicious links or ads, and using insecure internet connections. Google Chrome’s built-in “safe browsing” mode can help warn you about potentially suspicious sites, offering an additional layer of protection while browsing the web.

Additionally, use your best judgment when downloading files or software from the web and entering personal information for online services. Regularly changing your passwords and using a different password for each website can also help protect your Android device from security threats.

App Permissions Management

App permissions management is an essential aspect of Android security, as it allows you to control which apps have access to features like your microphone, camera, location, and other sensitive information. To manage app permissions on your Android device, navigate to the Settings app and check the Privacy and Permission Manager sections.

By regularly reviewing and managing app permissions, you can control the access that apps have to your device’s sensitive information and maintain a secure Android device without the need for additional antivirus protection.

Summary

In conclusion, ensuring the security of your Android device in 2023 requires vigilance, awareness, and careful consideration of your device’s usage and vulnerabilities. While built-in security features like Google Play Protect and monthly security updates offer a solid foundation for protection, additional antivirus apps like Norton Mobile Security for Android and Bitdefender Mobile Security for Android may be necessary for some users. By practicing safe browsing habits, managing app permissions, and staying informed about current security threats, you can enjoy a secure Android experience without constantly worrying about your device’s safety.

How to stay safe online:

  • Practice Strong Password Hygiene: Use a unique and complex password for each account. A password manager can help generate and store them. In addition, enable two-factor authentication (2FA) whenever available.
  • Invest in Your Safety: Buying the best antivirus for Windows 11 is key for your online security. A high-quality antivirus like Norton, McAfee, or Bitdefender will safeguard your PC from various online threats, including malware, ransomware, and spyware.
  • Be Wary of Phishing Attempts: Be cautious when receiving suspicious communications that ask for personal information. Legitimate businesses will never ask for sensitive details via email or text. Before clicking on any links, ensure the sender's authenticity.
  • Stay Informed. We cover a wide range of cybersecurity topics on our blog. And there are several credible sources offering threat reports and recommendations, such as NIST, CISA, FBI, ENISA, Symantec, Verizon, Cisco, Crowdstrike, and many more.

Happy surfing!

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are the most frequently asked questions.

What antivirus should I use on my Android phone?

We recommend that you use Norton Mobile Security on your Android phone for optimal protection against malware.

Are viruses common on Android phones?

Yes, viruses can be common on Android phones if users don’t practice good security practices. However, with the right know-how and preventive measures, users can effectively protect themselves against Android malware and keep their devices virus-free.

What are some built-in Android security features?

Android devices come with a range of pre-installed security features that are designed to protect users’ data and keep their devices safe. These include Google Play Protect, monthly security updates, and default security settings.

Author: Tibor Moes

Author: Tibor Moes

Founder & Chief Editor at SoftwareLab

Tibor has tested 39 antivirus programs and 30 VPN services, and holds a Cybersecurity Graduate Certificate from Stanford University.

He uses Norton to protect his devices, CyberGhost for his privacy, and Dashlane for his passwords.

You can find him on LinkedIn or contact him here.