10 Best Security & Privacy Apps for Smartphones & Tablets

Joel Lee 07-07-2016

Malware, Trojans, eavesdroppers, trackers, and thieves… the threats are endless. Though it’s been nearly a decade since smartphones went mainstream, these problems haven’t gone away. In fact, they’ve only gotten worse.


Beyond just setting the internal security options of your device Smartphone Privacy Settings You Need To Activate Today Smartphones ship with plenty of default settings that could be leaking your info. Let's dive in and tweak them. Read More , you should be using a few apps that further increase how well your device is protected. Here are some of the best we’ve found and can recommend.

Do you need all of them? Not at all. Feel free to pick and choose the ones that seem best for you.

Antivirus & Malware Apps

You might notice that these first three apps are primarily for Android. That’s because other mobile OSes aren’t as prone to infections What Is The Most Secure Mobile Operating System? Battling for the title of Most Secure Mobile OS, we have: Android, BlackBerry, Ubuntu, Windows Phone, and iOS. Which operating system is the best at holding its own against online attacks? Read More , including iOS and W10 Mobile which tend to be pretty safe right out of the box.

1. 360 Mobile Security (Free)

If you recognize the signs of a smartphone malware infection Has Your Android Phone Been Infected with Malware? How does malware get on an Android device? After all, most users only install apps through the Play Store, and Google keeps a tight watch over that to make sure malware doesn't squeeze through, right?... Read More , then the first thing you should do is install this app. Of all the mobile security apps I’ve tried, this one has provided the cleanest and most pleasant experience.

The only downside is that it tries to be an all-in-one app and some of its features are sub-par or unnecessary. But the security features are top-notch, and that’s the main reason to use this app anyway. Just ignore the other features and you’ll be fine.


Download Now: Android, iOS [No Longer Available]

2. Avast Mobile Security (Free)

Even though I personally prefer 360, I can’t deny that Avast has long been one of the best antivirus apps 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 . It’s an all-in-one solution that protects your device from angles you didn’t even know existed.

Important features include real-time malware blocking, manual malware scanning, clean Trojan removal, phishing protection, app permissions, and availability in more than 20 languages. If you don’t trust 360, then Avast should be your next choice.

Download Now: Android


3. Kaspersky (Free, $15/yr)

Kaspersky is a well-known name in the security realm, so trust shouldn’t be an issue here. The malware and virus protection is so good that it consistently ranks among the best Android security apps at AV-Test.

This app’s subscription model might scare a few of you away, but you should know that it can actually be used indefinitely for free. The premium version offers non-crucial features like phishing protection and call blocking.

Download Now: Android

Communication Apps

4. Linphone (Free)



If you use your smartphone for VoIP 3 Things to Know Before Switching to a VoIP Phone Plan Why is VoIP so popular? And is it in your best interest to switch to using a VoIP-only option that replaces your mobile plan? Here's what you need to know about it. Read More and you’re concerned about security and privacy, then you should really think about switching to Linphone: the best way to make HD calls, both audio and video, in a way that’s completely secure from end to end.

The engine and protocol are both open source, which means anyone could audit the behind-the-scenes at any time, so there’s unlikely to be any fishy business going on. It’s one of the best open source communication apps 6 Open Source Messaging Apps More Secure Than Skype Skype has never been the most safe or secure communication protocol, and after Microsoft took over in 2011, concerns over privacy began to pile up. Can these secure, open source alternatives allay those fears? Read More currently available.

Linphone can also send text messages, photos, and files using the same secure protocol.

Download Now: Android, iOS, W10 Mobile


5. Telegram (Free)


If you don’t care about VoIP but do care about security and privacy as far as messaging is concerned, then you should start using Telegram right away. It’s similar to WhatsApp, but better 4 Slick WhatsApp Alternatives that Guard Your Privacy Facebook bought WhatsApp. Now that we're over the shock of that news, are you worried about your data privacy? Read More , depending on which features are important to you.

Telegram messages are stored on the cloud, so they stay in sync across all devices that have it installed. And it’s not just for one-on-one communication, as Telegram supports up to 5,000 users in group chats.

But most of all, it’s secure: messages are encrypted, you can apply self-destruct timers, all while being fast and convenient to use.

Download Now: Android, iOS, W10 Mobile

Tracking & Anti-Theft Apps

6. SafeTrek ($3/mo)


One of the best things about always carrying a smartphone on you is that you always have a way to contact somebody in case something goes wrong. SafeTrek takes that to the next level by turning your phone into a personal safety device The 5 Best Self Defense Apps for Personal Safety When Walking Alone These self-defense apps provide personal safety for anyone walking alone at night. Keep them on your phone for peace of mind. Read More .

Basically, when you’re feeling unsafe, you hold down the SafeTrek button on the screen. When you let go, you’ll be prompted to enter a PIN — and if you don’t, it will immediately alert local police and send them to your GPS location.

Needless to say, we consider this to be a must-have app that will change your life 9 Lesser-Known Android Apps That Will Change Your Life We promise at least some of these apps will be new to you, and they'll all be extremely useful. Try them out for yourself. Read More . Start with the 30-day free trial if you aren’t sure if the small monthly price is worth it.

Download Now: Android, iOS

7. Prey (Free, $5/mo)

The funny thing about smartphone security is that a lost phone can be worse than malware What You Really Need To Know About Smartphone Security Read More . Think about it: as soon as somebody picks up your phone, they can access pretty much everything on it.

One thing you can do is lock certain apps and services with a PIN (which we cover below using an applocker) but ultimately what you want is to recover your device, right? That’s where Prey comes into play.

Prey lets you locate your device, makes it possible to send alert messages, and even wipe the device remotely (that last one is a paid feature). It’s better if your phone isn’t stolen in the first place Don’t Be A Victim: Practical Tips To Protect Your Smartphone From Theft Considering the cost of a new smartphone, most of us are extremely casual about how we treat them. But keeping tabs on your smartphone isn’t difficult. Keeping it safe from the possibility of theft is... Read More , but in case it happens, it’s better to have Prey on it than not.

Download Now: Android, iOS

8. Cerberus ($5/yr)


Cerberus is another anti-theft solution for Android The 7 Best Android Anti-Theft Apps to Protect Your Device If your Android phone gets stolen, you'll need a way to get it back. Here are the best Android anti-theft apps. Read More , one that we consider to be even better than Prey. Unfortunately it doesn’t come with a free version (only a 7-day free trial, which is barely enough time to get a sense of what it can do).

Not only does it have more advanced features (like backing up your data and remote access with a Unix-like shell) but it also comes in two versions: a standard version and a disguised version where the app’s name is “System Framework” so thieves are none the wiser that Cerberus is installed.

Download Now: Android [No Longer Available]

Other Privacy Apps

9. Hotspot Shield VPN (Free, $30/yr)

Whenever possible, we recommend going with a reputable paid VPN service The Ultimate Comparison of Nearly Every VPN on the Market VPNs are so important these days, but there are so many of them to choose from. Thankfully, this huge comparison chart will make your decision much easier to make. Read More because the quality is often higher, there aren’t any bandwidth limits, and customer support is better.

But if you don’t want to pay anything, then Hotspot Shield is one of the best free VPN services The Best VPN Services We've compiled a list of what we consider to be the best Virtual Private Network (VPN) service providers, grouped by premium, free, and torrent-friendly. Read More . It lets you surf the web anonymously, it encrypts your web traffic, and it lets you circumvent regional blocks on websites and videos.

An Elite account isn’t necessary, but can be worth it for the ad-free browsing and cloud-based malware protection. Then again, if you’re going to pay, you might as well go with a premium alternative like NordVPN or Private Internet Access instead.

Download Now: Android, iOS, W10 Mobile

10. CM Security AppLock (Free)


We recently named CM Security AppLock a must-install Android security app 6 Android Security Apps You Should Install Today Android security apps - capable of blocking malware and phishing attempts - are necessary if you wish to run a safe and secure smartphone. Let's look at some of the best Android security apps currently... Read More and I stand by that judgment. There are plenty of other applockers on the Play Store, but how many can boast a 4.7 rating with just under 19 million reviews? Incredible.

With it, you can lock down certain features — like mobile data, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, specific apps, and Android settings — so that they’re inaccessible without the right PIN. Failed unlock attempts result in a photo of the intruder and an email alert.

Some devices, mainly the later Galaxy and HTC One models, also support fingerprint unlocking, which is becoming a more secure method than simple PINs Should You Use a Fingerprint or a PIN to Lock Your Phone? Should you protect your phone with a fingerprint or a PIN? Which one is actually more secure? Read More .

Download Now: Android

Good Security Habits Are Priceless

As long as you have security software, you’re safe and don’t have to worry. True or false? Contrary to what most people think, that’s as false as it gets — one of the worst security-related myths 4 Cyber Security Myths That Must Die Read More that one could believe.

The truth is that practicing good security habits Change Your Bad Habits & Your Data Will Be More Secure Read More matters more in the long run. Security apps exist as a safety net for when you fall, but it’s better if you don’t fall to begin with.

Want to know if your security habits are good? Compare them to the online habits of security experts 8 Tips for Online Safety Used by Security Experts Want to stay safe online? Then forget everything you think you know about passwords, antivirus and online security because it's time to be retrained. Here's what the experts actually do. Read More .

Let us know what you think of these apps. If you know of any others that deserve to be on this list, share them with us in a comment down below! We’d love to hear from you.

Related topics: Anti-Malware, Phishing, Smartphone Security, Trojan Horse.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. Tony
    March 31, 2020 at 11:55 pm

    I've been using Telegram for who knows how long, glad it's on the list. You should really include some new VPNs as well. Just got Atlas VPN for a test drive, really fast and easy to use. But it does need a proper analysis from an expert like yourself.

  2. Akash Srivastava
    January 12, 2017 at 9:31 am

    According to me LEO privacy should be on the list. I have been using this app for quite some time and it hides my private pictures and videos in the vault also this app has a unique feature which enables you to capture a snapshot of anyone who tries to unlock apps behind you. so this app comes in very handy when it comes to your private space and protection.

  3. Squalle
    July 13, 2016 at 9:53 pm

    So I watched the 360 video. It claims it "eliminates background processes, saving you battery". Isn't this what a bunch of other MakeUseOf articles tell their readers NOT to do?

    Another worthless POS MUO article.

    • Joel Lee
      July 13, 2016 at 9:54 pm

      FYI using an app doesn't mean you are obligated to use every feature of said app.

  4. Anonymous
    July 11, 2016 at 11:37 pm

    Use Webroot. It's the best security app

  5. TantalizingTracy
    July 11, 2016 at 3:09 pm

    I use crap cleaner and malwarebytes on my android and desktop. They've never failed. 2 more key ? security apps is a: secure password manager and the LookOut app free/premium. And of course encrypt your phone.

  6. Jim
    July 9, 2016 at 10:25 pm

    You should never automatically trust any security app for your phone or computer, no matter what user reviews say, without visiting They are considered the standard when it comes to independent anti malware testing. They not only test for effectiveness but also features and whether it impacts the device's performance. I went with Norton which got perfect scores in all categories. The simple truth is you don't really know if a security app is working properly or not if it hasn't been certified.

  7. Anonymous
    July 8, 2016 at 12:53 pm

    Those antimalware or antivirus app make phone slower even its powerful enough. Using android phone and tab for few years and installed some app like 360, Cleanmaster, Avast etc. they just make the device slower and waste of memory.

  8. winters
    July 8, 2016 at 12:54 am

    I followed the link ready to download CM Security Applock untill i realized its published by Cheetah Mobile, a developer many accuse os privacy breaches and invasive ads. Even that particular app has been flagged for data mining.

    That made me think twice and look for an alternative, but considering the number of reviews, ,happy people and the fact that you recommend it, do still think its trustworthy?

    • Whitey
      February 26, 2018 at 9:14 am

      CM and Cheetah are Chinese companies, they uses misleading advertisements to let unaware users to download their apps. For instance, some website pop-ups shows a fake Google website says your phone's battery (yes battery) is infected by viruses due to your recent porn site visit. With a count down timer ,alerting sound and vibration, most of the users would follow the instructions and install CM or other adware, which nick your personal information and send you ads.