Tech-Friendly: Android smartphone antivirus protection

August 7, 2013

By Paul Gorski

Do you need an antivirus program for your Android OS-based smartphone? Maybe. Before you download an AV program for that phone of yours, follow these basic guidelines: 1) only download apps from the Google Play Store, 2) be wary even of apps at the Google Play Store, and 3) upgrade to the most current version of Android OS that your device will support, without breaking normal Android security. Follow these precautions, and you’ll be pretty safe.

You will find “technical” articles implying that you need an AV app for your Android smartphone. For example: “Russia’s Massive Android Malware Industry Revealed” (http://securitywatch.pcmag.com/mobile-security/314386-russia-s-massive-android-malware-industry-revealed) and “Android Malware Genome Project” (http://www.malgenomeproject.org/).

Then, you have security experts who lean toward not installing AV apps on Android devices, “RSA: Do You Need Mobile Anti-Virus?” (http://www.esecurityplanet.com/mobile-security/rsa-do-you-need-mobile-anti-virus.html).

You’ll also find articles that report that Android AV apps simply don’t work, including: “Most Android anti-virus products don’t work, tests find” (http://www.nbcnews.com/id/46644153/ns/technology_and_science-security/t/most-android-anti-virus-products-dont-work-tests-find/#.Uf_Xa-BK1Rh).

To the disbelief of many Android fans, you might read an article that claims Google is dropping Android and moving to another mobile OS, possibly Chrome OS. “Google appears ready to ditch Android over its intellectual property issues” (http://appleinsider.com/articles/13/07/29/google-appears-ready-to-ditch-android-over-its-intellectual-property-issues). So much for Android OS security then.

Conventional wisdom, and product marketing, suggests that your Android smartphone is safer with an antivirus program installed. I’m not sure that is true, as it may offer a false sense of security. However, if you’d feel safer installing an AV app on your Android smartphone, review the app rankings at AV-Test.org (http://www.av-test.org/en/tests/mobile-devices/android/).

Many AV app developers offer “anti-theft” features, too, in case your phone is stolen or your lose it. You might be interested in those features, I know I am, but that topic deserves an article of its own.

If you have any personal experiences, good or bad, with AV apps for Android, please post your comments below.

Paul Gorski (www.paulgorski.com) has been a technology manager nearly 20 years, specializing in workflow solutions for printing, publishing and advertising computer users. Originally destined to be a chemist, his interest in computers began in college when he wrote a program to analyze data from lab instruments he hard-wired to the back of an Apple IIe.

From the Aug. 7-13, 2013, issue

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