360 Mobile Security for Android: One Of The Best-Looking Free Security Tools Around

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One of the key advantages of Android is that it is a wide-open ecosystem: Everybody gets to play; you don’t have to install apps only from Google Play, but also from Amazon’s AppStore and other sources. You can even side-load apps you got from the darker corners of the Internet, though we’ve explained before why installing cracked apps is a bad idea. All of this openness is great, but also makes Android potentially risky – which is where antivirus apps come in. We’ve previously looked at Lookout and Advanced Mobile Care, and today it’s time to check out another free competitor that prides itself on beautiful looks, 360 Mobile Security. This security app has over 3,300 reviews on Google Play, raking up an unbelievable 4.8 star average. Let’s see what makes it so popular.

Getting Started

Since this is a security-related post, here is an important disclaimer: I will not be evaluating virus detection rates in this post. This is a review of the interface, user experience, and promised functionality. If you want to read a detailed security analysis of Android antivirus performance, I recommend the detailed comparative reports produced by AV-Test. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s look at the first screen you get after installing 360 Mobile Security:

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This is a vertically-scrolling onboarding sequence that presents the antivirus and sets out the general aesthetic: A blurry background image, and colorful icons. The app promises “system optimization,” as well as “powerful protection.” If your device is rooted, you will next get the following prompt:

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360 Mobile Security wants to have root access to your device, although the onboarding sequence doesn’t prepare you for this, nor does it explain why the app needs root access. That’s a bit of a drawback: I have no problem with granting root access to trusted apps, but I need to understand what the app intends to do with its newfound absolute control over my device.

The Virus Scan Experience

Scanning for viruses looks like this:

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The “progress circle” certainly appears more futuristic than a vanilla progress bar, and uses the vertical aspect ratio of the device to better effect. There’s also a detail pane at the bottom part of the screen, showing the currently scanned app. The scan itself moved at a fairly rapid clip on my device, but then stalled for several long moments at the 99% mark while displaying the vaguely ominous message “Cloud processing…”. Presumably, 360 Mobile Security used this time to send its findings to an online server for analysis. This probably means the server got a full listing of all apps I have installed on my device — something I wish 360 Mobile Security was more upfront about.

After the scan, I was presented with the following result, proclaiming my situation Risky:

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This came as a surprise to me, especially since 360 Mobile Security replaced the reputable AVG AntiVirus Security app on my device. Drilling down, 360 Mobile Security claims it found a vulnerability on my device that lets apps send fraudulent SMS broadcasts:

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This further leads to a full-page explanation of the threat:

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While I won’t opine as to whether or not the threat is real, I have to say that the way 360 Mobile Security presents it is clear, informative, and does not feel needlessly threatening.

The Task Killer

Another feature offered by 360 Mobile Security is called System Cleanup. This is basically a task killer:

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Using a task killer on modern Android devices is not a good idea, and this Cleanup feature mainly feels like a marketing ploy by 360 Mobile Security rather than something truly useful. Tapping “Running apps” leads to a listing of all background processes:

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You can swipe processes to the left to add them to an Ignore List, which means they will not be automatically terminated when you press the “Clean up” button. Still, I advise against using this feature.

Floating Overlay

The third and final feature I’d like to show you is the floating overlay. Here’s a crop of my home screen, with the overlay shown:

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This is a tiny floating notification that displays your current used memory percentage. Tapping it opens an overlay with toggles for WiFi, brightness, GPS, and the other usual suspects:

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Holding and dragging the overlay pops open a drop target that resembles a glowing portal from the distant future. Dropping the overlay on the target causes the task killer to run:

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While all of this is very pretty, it’s also partially redundant: Recent Android versions include their own system toggles in the notification shade.

Settings

Finally, the settings screen is clear and to the point:

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You can switch off the floating window, as well as the permanent notification. All of the other settings are just as self-explanatory, and the screen is clear and uncluttered.

Should an Antivirus Be So Pretty?

At its best, an antivirus is almost invisible: It fades to background, and quietly does its work, keeping you safe from harm without draining your battery or taxing your CPU. This is ideal, but it also presents a marketing challenge: If your app is so quiet the user never notices it, how will you get people to talk about it? 360 Mobile Security tries to solve this with a flashy, futuristic UI. Whether or not it’s for you is a matter of personal taste. If you like the aesthetic and the feature set, you should take it for a spin. Personally, I mainly wish the app was more upfront regarding privacy concerns and its use of root privileges.

Do you use an antivirus for your Android device? If so, which one, and why did you pick that particular one?

Image Credits: Millsboro Police Car Via Flickr

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16 Comments - Write a Comment

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Brandon R

I use an antivirus named Zoner Alarm for my Android smartphone. I noticed that on AV-Test it had a low protection rating but that dident bother me much because my smartphone only has a few mega bytes internal memory and I needed an antivirus app that does not take much memory, anf Zoner Alarm only requires less than 2MB of memory

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Herlambang P

i use avast for my device..easy to use and slightly light

0x0A

I use TrustGo for my device

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Eva

360 makes my phone running faster. I love it.

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Dane Spencer

l agree it is the “best looking antivirus” it would be great if they could pass it on to the virus protection capability and make the program run in the background and not controlling the device

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Abir

Ya, Thats a very nice &b cool antivirus. I think it makes my device faster

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Khristiam

The antivirus eliminated the malware installed by the BBM app (downloaded from playstore!). Avast didn’t.
Nice UI. Recommended!

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Brian

I use advast.. I really like the way it works auto scans firewall and more. Tried 360 it found that same auto text like above but it also said it found a Trojan. My advast found the Trojan about a month ago I tried deleting it and everything seemed fine. So I think 360 is good to have but I can’t get rid of advast got to keep both

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Ninja

The first thing this app does is trying to send a SMS message without asking. Became obvious here as my account is empty and so I got promptly the notification SMS back about not having money.

Erez Z

That’s troubling, and isn’t something I noticed. Would you mind posting a screenshot of this to imgur? I’d be curious to hear what 360 have to say about this.

Keri

Ninja,
I know you left your opinion months ago but the app didn’t do anything like that for me. Were you still in the process of setting up your preferences (like blocking numbers from texting or calling)?
I’m interested to hear what you did after it happened. Did you email them or check online to see if other people had similar experiences? I wonder if you had a remote viewer who texted you as fast as possible knowing you may soon block their contact with you. I mean, did you already run a malware scan before the text or what? It seems strange…not unlikely but strange. If anything, you’d think the weird stuff would happen down the road so it wasn’t so obvious. What kind of person or company does that right out of the bag?
I’m not disagreeing with you or saying it didn’t happen but I find it strange the text came right when you downloaded the app.
Your writing is hard to follow so I may misunderstand. Did they send you a text stating your acct was empty or did you reply to let them know you didn’t have any money?
You may have just received a txt from your bank at the time. You should never have any financial info on your mobile devices but I understand being in a bind where you dont have a choice. I just question how the app would find your info then blatantly make it seem as if they abused their access. Most people wouldn’t tell somebody they just checked their acct without permission. It all seems strange.
If you’re around, please explain what happened and what followed after the experience.
I question them wanting my cell phone’s IMEI and, like the writer, also had an SMS vulnerability warning after the 1st scan.
I like the app but never fully trust anybody or company I don’t know much about. I didn’t like McAfee or Norton so I’m checking this out some more. My cell isnt rooted so I can’t take full advantage of the software. I’m glad I found this article before moving forward.
I have a cheap Android with MetroPCS, who doesn’t keep their software up to date so a good security app is very important. (I know. Even iPhone’s have been hacked but at least, they make it look as if they’re trying. MetroPCS acts as if cell phones don’t need security if you mention it.)

Great article! Thank you.

Ninja

Well I did not care anymore for it after this. So I did not email anyone or whatever.
Also I had no blocking apps or numbers blocked.
I had not checked my cellphone for malware before – well I don’t remember. However this app has not found malware (I did not uninstall it – had it few days).

So now again about what happened – I don’t remember well anymore:
My cellphone carrier sends me a SMS to me when I have insufficient money on my prepaid account to do an action. So when I want to make a call I’ll get a SMS I have not enough credit. When I want to send a SMS I’ll get also a SMS from my carrier saying I have insufficient money.
Now back to the app. What I remember is: First I installed it. Few seconds after first opening I received a SMS from my carrier stating: “I have insufficient money to do that”. So well here must have something happened in the background which was requiring to have money on my cellphone’s carrier’s prepaid account.
As this has happened on same time as I have opened this app for the first time I had got the assumption this app was going to say hallo from my cellphone number to someone.
But well it can also have been something else but this app. So it can be coincidence this happened with this timing – however nothing similar before/after this incident has happened so far.
Well stating this app sends SMS was a bit wrong from my side. I can not confirm what did really want to make calls/SMS. Just the timing did match exactly.
So I hope it explains your questions.

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madan

dis is a world worst apps dat i checked

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md parvej

Me not westtge wadas
Thanks siyoor

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sakthivel

How to uninstall 360degree protection

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Keri

Ninja, I removed this too…for the same reason. It was a whilw back but I wasnt impressed with the app and cant afford to lose money in any way. I had several credit card charges the same month I used the app. I had them fixed and all is ok but for those in the same situation..the charges were for Adam and Eve and other tacky places I wont name. Also, there were Paypal charges on my card. When I called PayPal, they didnt help. They couldnt find a matching email for me and kinda just blew me off. I had a PayPal acct years and years ago but had it closed. Besides that, they couldnt see my charges since it was used by another person’s email-crazy! But, like I said, the ccard company fixed it. I hope the app didnt cause the issues and other users find the app safe but I wouldnt trust it. (BTW. I rarely use my ccards online. I wish I could trust the internet but I’ve seen crazy stuff happen and wont read email on my cell if I can avoid it.)

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