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There is a debate to be had over whether or not Android security apps are even necessary Does Your Smartphone Need Security & Antivirus Software? Does Your Smartphone Need Security & Antivirus Software? Does your Android phone need an antivirus? What about your iPad? Your BlackBerry or Windows Phone? The answer is actually a bit complicated. Let's take a look at your options. Read More .

Proponents claim that Android malware is so common you are certain to get infected without adequate protection, while critics say that as long as you’re careful about what you download you will ultimately be safe.

The truth is somewhere in the middle; Android security apps extend beyond anti-virus What Is the Best Antivirus App for Android? What Is the Best Antivirus App for Android? Keep your Android device safe and secure with one of these amazing antivirus apps. Read More — there are firewall apps, anti-phishing apps, and other anti-malware apps that also need to be considered.

Here we take a look at some of the best security apps out there…

Note: some of the apps below cover multiple security vectors, but for each one we’ve highlighted what we believe to be its strongest assets.

CM Security Antivirus

Great for: Anti-Virus, Anti-Phishing

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CM Security is one of the most popular antivirus apps on Android. It has more than 16 million reviews (with an average rating of 4.7 stars), it’s been downloaded almost half a billion times, and plays nicely with almost every version of Android.

It consistently ranks near the top of AV TEST’s independent app analyses, with the most recent results in January 2016 scoring it at 4.5/5 for protection and 5/5 for usability.

Its features can be split into two parts – the anti-virus protection and the “AppLock” functionality.

The anti-virus protection lets you check for malicious Wi-Fi hotspots, fix system vulnerabilities, and scan new apps, file systems, and websites. The developer claims that the system scan is 500 percent faster than its rivals. It also boasts great anti-phishing tools, with real-time scanning of URLs and instant warning notifications.

The AppLock will automatically take a selfie of anyone who entered the wrong password twice, let you lock individual apps to keep your data safe from prying eyes, and block unwanted calls – among other things.

Avast! Mobile Security

Great for: Anti-Virus, Anti-Theft

Arguably CM Security’s biggest rival is Avast!.

The PC version of the software forms one part of the triumvirate of free anti-virus protection 5 Best Free Internet Security Suites for Windows 5 Best Free Internet Security Suites for Windows Which security suite do you trust the most? We look at five of the best free security suites for Windows, all of which offer anti-virus, anti-malware, and real-time protection features. Read More that dominates the market (along with AVG and Avira), and the Android version has been steadily growing in popularity.

Like CM Security, it offers extensive protections. They include a virus and malware scanner, a Trojan removal tool, an app permission management tool, app locking, and a call blocker. It also scores highly on AV TEST Compare Your Anti-Virus' Performance with These 5 Top Sites Compare Your Anti-Virus' Performance with These 5 Top Sites Which anti-virus software should use? Which is the "best"? Here we take a look at five of the best online resources for checking anti-virus performance, to help you make an informed decision. Read More , detecting 99.2 percent of the latest Android malware.

Unlike CM Security, however, it does not include features to control or observe the activity of children.

Its standout feature is arguably its anti-theft provisions 4 Android Anti-Theft Solutions Compared: Which Is The Best? 4 Android Anti-Theft Solutions Compared: Which Is The Best? Anti-theft apps like Lookout, Cerberus, Prey, and Android Lost offer a wide range of options for finding or protecting your device: GPS location, sounding an alarm, locking the phone, wiping the data completely, and more.... Read More ; you can control your device via SMS, remotely lock and wipe it, force it to sound an alarm, and prevent USB debugging.

NoRoot Firewall

Great for: Firewalls

NoRoot Firewall is the most popular firewall app by some distance.

It works by creating a mock virtual private network (VPN) then rooting your apps’ traffic through it. In short, it gives you complete control over how and when individual apps can access the web.

This has many benefits. For example, you can see whether apps are accessing ad data, or prevent apps from using valuable bandwidth.


When an app tries to go online, you’ll receive a pop-up notification. You can then permit or deny its access, and save your choice for future attempts. You can also control if an app can only access the Internet over Wi-Fi, mobile Internet, neither, or both, allowing you to prevent cloud storage services from syncing, or apps from updating while you’re away from a Wi-Fi connection.

Lastly, you can create filters based on IP addresses, host names, or domain names.

Note: the developer states that the app will not work on LTE networks, but that the team are working on a fix.

Kaspersky Internet Security

Great for: Anti-phishing

Kaspersky is another well-known antivirus suite in the PC market. Its Android app is free to download and use, but it really starts to shine if you pay for the premium version ($14.95 USD per year).

That’s because the paid version unlocks the anti-phishing features, an area in which it’s best-in-sector. Naturally, it offers real-time phishing protection while using your web-browser, but it will also scan text messages, WhatsApps, and emails for suspicious links.

The premium version also unlocks privacy controls and cloud protection, while the free version provides a powerful anti-virus scanner, anti-theft tools, and a call and text filter.


Great for: Firewalls

Before we begin, it is important to highlight that this app needs your device to be rooted What Is Rooting? What Are Custom ROMs? Learn Android Lingo What Is Rooting? What Are Custom ROMs? Learn Android Lingo Ever had a question about your Android device, but the answer had a bunch of words in it that you didn't understand? Let us break down the confusing Android lingo for you. Read More . If it’s not rooted, it won’t work. However, if you do have a rooted handset, it is arguably more powerful than the aforementioned NoRoot Firewall.

Unlike its competitors, it functions on IPV6 (and by extension, LTE networks), it has a VPN control, a LAN control, tether control, and boasts a lock pattern for application protection. Of course, it also offers all the same features as NoRoot Firewall such as blocking by connection type, IP addresses, and host names, etc.


It works by editing the iptables Linux firewall and it’s unclear whether simply deleting and reinstalling an app would edit these, so if you ever want to delete AFWall+ make sure you reset these to the defaults first!

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware

Great for: Anti-Malware, Privacy

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware claims to protect you from “malware, infected apps, and unauthorized surveillance”, and like it’s PC-based cousin 10 Great Security Tools You Should Be Using 10 Great Security Tools You Should Be Using You can never be too careful out there in the wild west that we like to call the Internet, so using free and low cost security tools is a good idea. The following are recommended. Read More , it is entirely free to use.

Many of the app’s functions are the same as the PC version. For example:

  • It will detect and delete malware (including spyware and Trojans)
  • It can scan malicious code and Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUPs)
  • It can scan for security vulnerabilities
  • It monitors location-tracking apps

On the privacy front, it will constantly monitor which apps have access to your data and what they are sharing with third-parties, presenting it all in an easy-to-follow list. You can then enable/disable permissions from that list.

Which Apps Do You Use?

There are many apps that didn’t make this list, all of which deserve an honorable mention.

AVG, Lookout, and 360 Security are all excellent antivirus programs, LostNet NoRoot Firewall and Firewall Gold are worthy firewall apps, while services like mSecure (passwords The Best Password Managers for Android Compared The Best Password Managers for Android Compared Passwords are hard to remember, and it's insecure to only have a few passwords memorized. Let these apps keep your passwords strong and secure! Read More ), Ninja SMS (encrypted texts), and SSE (universal encryption) all have an important role to play.

Which apps do you rely on to keep you safe while using your device? Do you even believe in Android security apps, or do you fall into the “they’re unnecessary” camp?

We’d love to hear your opinions and tips. You can get in touch via the comments below.

  1. Linda
    October 20, 2016 at 8:11 am

    Thanks for sharing. But for anti-thThanks for sharing. But for anti-theft, I use LEO Privacy. You can used your reserved number to track and find it. What’s more, you can block and delete your private files to protect you privacy.eft, I use LEO Privacy. You can used your reserved number to track and find it. What’s more, you can block and delete your private files to protect you privacy.

  2. Linda
    October 20, 2016 at 8:09 am

    Thanks for sharing. But for anti-theft, I use LEO Privacy. You can used your reserved number to track and find it. What’s more, you can block and delete your private files to protect you privacy.

  3. Steven Tubbs
    September 18, 2016 at 5:49 am

    I use the premium version of lookout and 360 security

  4. Namaste India
    September 9, 2016 at 3:43 pm

    I use sophos since my early PC days n it works just fine in the background

  5. Tom tucker
    September 5, 2016 at 12:55 am

    I've been using 360 Security for years. Have had zero issues.

  6. Zivan Milanovic
    September 1, 2016 at 7:59 pm

    I've been using Lookout for years and have Avira as well, absolutely no issues. Also use CCleaner to clean up.

  7. Test
    April 22, 2016 at 4:33 am

    Just to correct install any one antivirus not all mentioned in this post lol

    • Lisa Moore
      April 28, 2016 at 11:40 am

      Try PureVPN. A must have VPN tool for Android security.

  8. brt
    April 16, 2016 at 1:01 am


  9. Gianpiero
    April 12, 2016 at 5:18 pm

    I use Trust Mobi antivirus and it is the only one that years ago spotted on my phone the famous Carrier IQ virus!

  10. Ninja
    March 30, 2016 at 11:25 am

    rooting?! don't you mean routing?

  11. Jeremy
    March 29, 2016 at 8:30 am

    So, I was expecting some sort of confirmation of how much these apps are needed or not. These lists are a dime a dozen, and I don't see reading more comments helping in educate anyone more than they already are. I personally don't use any, I think they're distracting but I have always recommended them to people that are less tech savy. Maybe an article bringing hard numbers of potential threats that are found in real world use would be nice. Like just how essential is it these days to pay for this protection. I remember when hardly anyone used anti virus on PC, now it's as essential as an oil change for a car. Is that now becoming reality for mobile devices or is it mostly habit brought over from when everyone got online primarily on a PC.

  12. Mike
    March 28, 2016 at 2:37 pm

    Nothing by cheetah mobile goes on my phone, I use avg.

  13. Steve Rose
    March 27, 2016 at 9:27 pm

    I have been using Lookout since I got my Galaxy S5 and yes I got the premium version and it's kept me safe. No issues at all.

    Why is it not considered worth mentioning? What, if anything, am I missing.

  14. Altnate
    March 27, 2016 at 4:00 pm

    As a reply to the writer, none. F-Droid and XDA Labs as alternative stores, CM13 and HANDS OFF CHEETAH MOBILE (or pretty much any other thing). My G3 is as responsive as can be. Besides, most of the aforementioned PC counterparts plant passive malware (files that are considered malware but do no actual harm to the computer) just so that they can "demonstrate" their effectiveness to the user.

  15. Christoph
    March 27, 2016 at 6:11 am

    I have not heard much good about Cheetah Mobile, especially that they try to get hold of pretty much all your data (in other words, that their apps are spyware). Yet, you are not mentioning these allegations. Does that mean, you are not aware of these issues or that they don't exist?

  16. Richard Loomis
    March 26, 2016 at 11:32 pm

    Use Webroot app. Best out there. Hassle free

  17. Mr Marty
    March 26, 2016 at 10:30 pm

    I've used Avast for my laptop, tablet and smartphone for many years worth no complaints.

  18. Read and Share
    March 26, 2016 at 5:20 pm

    Just installed Noroot Firewall. Looks promising. Thanks!

  19. GodSponge (EB)
    March 26, 2016 at 2:57 pm

    Are you really telling me that that Cheetah Mobile actually makes something decent?

  20. Steve Snedden
    March 25, 2016 at 10:13 pm

    Dan, really!? You wrote "rooting your traffic through. . ." Surely you mean "routing" not "rooting." I'm just starting your article and already I'm confused and concerned about your command of the language.

    • Read and Share
      March 26, 2016 at 4:48 pm

      You know, there are ways to correct without being rude...

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