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Everyone knows (or should know, by now) that you need an antivirus package on your computer. There is a lot of nasty malware out there, and you need protection.
But what about your smartphone or tablet? Does your Android phone need an antivirus? What about your iPad? How about a Blackberry or Windows Phone?
The short answer is: Yes! You need some form of security app on your smartphone or tablet. Security vulnerabilities exist for all these devices. But how likely are you to encounter malware and your options for protection depend on the devices you use.
Android Malware and Antivirus
Android app stores, including Google Play, have a tendency toward the lax side of security when screening new apps. Although the introduction of Play Protect and better overall Google Play security has improved the situation, Android-specific malware slips through the security net.
Ransomware is an especially insidious threat, and while the number of consumer attacks is decreasing, ransomware targeting businesses continues to rise. That said, the main issue facing Android devices is credential and data theft, and malvertising. (The Agent Smith malware is a prime example!)
Protecting your Android smartphone or tablet against malware and ransomware could save you a lot of trouble if you download a malicious app. Android is the biggest mobile malware target. Some reports show that over 95% of mobile malware targets the Android operating system.
Fortunately, there are several high-quality Android antivirus and antimalware apps available. The first thing to consider is how effective the Android antivirus is. Head to the AV-Test Android section and check which recently tested apps secure full marks.
At the time of writing, Avast Mobile Security, AVG Antivirus Free, Bitdefender Mobile Security, Kaspersky internet Security, McAfee Mobile Security, Norton Mobile Security, Sophos Mobile Security, and Trend Micro Mobile Security all secure full marks for protection and usability.
You can also install apps that provide a firewall for your Android device, like DroidWall. However, many of these apps require you to root your device, potentially exposing it to a different type of danger. Adding a firewall does give you another layer of protection, but because of the ways criminals attack Android devices, a firewall isn’t totally necessary.
Malvertising is another threat facing Android users. The majority of Android antivirus apps now offer some form of malvertising protection due to the increased threat of infection.
You also have to watch out for the security risks posed by your Android phone’s motion sensors.
iPhone Malware and Antivirus
You might hear people say you don’t need an antivirus suite or app on macOS or iOS. Those people are wrong. You do need malware protection on macOS, and you do need malware protection on iOS.
The antimalware situation on iPhones is different from Android. Very different, in fact. Apple keeps a much closer watch on the App Store and the iOS app development process. Apple’s “walled garden” approach means you’re less likely to download malware from the App Store.
Apple created iOS from the ground up with security in mind. Full-system scanning apps are not allowed in the App Store. The antivirus apps found in the App Store have limited scanning functionality, focusing instead on securing other vulnerabilities such as malicious attachments or downloads.
Unfortunately, this makes them rather ineffective as antivirus apps. However, because of the low chance you’ll need one, it isn’t a problem.
If you jailbreak your iPhone to download non-App Store-approved apps, you could expose yourself to malware. There is a higher chance of encountering malware if you are downloading apps from a third-party repository. The infamous KeyRaider iPhone malware came from a third-party repository, targeting jailbroken iPhone devices.
Other iPhone malware variants target jailbroken devices because there is a higher chance the device doesn’t have up to date security patches, leaving it vulnerable.
If you’re looking for a good jailbreak antivirus solution, you’re on your own. Independent antivirus testers don’t run tests, and because the big names in antivirus don’t offer full antivirus apps for iOS, it’s tough to know which to trust.
BlackBerry Malware and Antivirus
You can split BlackBerry devices into two camps: those using the official BlackBerry (BB) operating system, and the newer devices using Android. The latter devices run the same risks as set out in the Android section.
Those devices still running BB are potentially vulnerable to malware. BB10 is the latest official BlackBerry operating system. At the time of writing, it has not received an update in five months. Furthermore, support for BB10 will terminate at the end of 2019.
The Chinese company, TCL Communications, manufactures the new generation of BlackBerry. TCL license the BlackBerry Mobile brand name, but all new devices use Android rather than the BB operating system.
So, what does this mean in terms of BlackBerry malware? Well, the number of people using the BB operating system decreases all the time. The number of targets is small, and the cost of attacking a BB is higher. Therefore, it is less profitable to attack BlackBerry devices running BB.
Furthermore, because BB10 malware isn’t an issue in comparison to Android, it doesn’t receive the same testing coverage. Many of the biggest antivirus developers no longer provide a BlackBerry operating system specific product.
Windows 10 Mobile Malware and Antivirus
The successor to Windows Phone 8.1, Windows 10 Mobile carries strong links to the desktop operating system. Windows 10 Mobile accounts for a minute share of the mobile operating system market.
But Windows 10 Mobile will sunset on December 10, 2019. The Windows 10 Mobile Fall Creators Update was the last feature update for the mobile operating system. After the end of support, users should switch to an alternative mobile operating system. The Windows 10 Mobile operating system will become vulnerable in the future as bugs and vulnerabilities are found but remain unpatched.
You Need Antivirus Apps on Your Mobile Devices
As you can see, whether you need an antivirus app comes down to the mobile operating system you use.
If you’re running an Android device, you should use an antivirus app, especially if you’re using an older Android version that receives less frequent updates (if any). Whereas, with iOS, you’re using an altogether more secure operating system. Installing a security tool that scans email attachments and downloads could help you remain secure.
Looking to boost your desktop PC security as well? Check out our recommendations of the best security and antivirus apps and software!