Running antivirus and other security software on a cellphone or tablet wasn’t much of a concern until just a couple of years ago. However, today it could be considered essential. The ever-increasing popularity of Android devices has lead to an increase of security concerns for consumers, including malware, phishing, and ID theft. Luckily, there is a wide range of free apps available that can thwart the efforts of hackers and scammers.
Many of these apps are labelled as “antivirus” by their creators, but that term isn’t quite accurate. Android apps work under a “sandboxed” security scheme, which isolates your apps from the rest of your phone. This means that a virus’ ability to impact your files is heavily limited because the files can’t replicate themselves and spread across your device, which is how viruses operate.
This doesn’t mean that you’re safe from risk, though. There are trojans, spyware, and fake apps in the Play Store, all of which could damage your device, and threaten your privacy as well. Android device sales were said to have topped one billion last year, and there are over a million apps available in the Play Store in 2017. With these kinds of numbers out there, it’s no wonder users are having to take extra steps to protect their devices and data.
It’s important to remember that, in addition to installing antivirus software, the most surefire way to keep your phone safe is to be careful and use common sense. Be wary of fake-seeming apps on the Play Store, and remain conscious of what types of permissions your new apps are asking for when you install them.
Top 7 Free Antivirus Apps for Android in 2018
#1 – 360 Security
Qihoo is an unfamiliar name in America, but it’s a huge software company in China. 360 Security is their free Android antivirus app. It’s one of the most popular and highly rated antivirus Android apps available right now with over 100 million downloads and 10 million ratings with a high average rating of 4.6 It has a whole range of security and optimization features, not to mention the standard antivirus scanning and protection you’ll find across the board on this list. For those concerned with aesthetics, it might have the most attractive looking design of the apps on this list. One of its key features is that it makes every new download pass a rigorous scan, and it has some power-saving features as a bonus.
#2 – Avast
This app doesn’t have a very nice-looking layout, but it’s efficient. It presents the option for you to schedule automatic scans for apps, the SD Card or both, to take place as frequently as is convenient for you. The Privacy Advisor checks the permissions every app needs and lists the potential privacy issues they may have. It also has app-locking, anti-theft capabilities, and adware detection, but those are listed as paid extras, so you’d have to buy the full version to access the full range of benefits.
#3 – Eset
Eset Mobile Security and Antivirus is a popular name in the field of antivirus software. This app has been rising in popularity since it performed a 100% detection rate of threats in testing last year. With frequent updates, they’re likely looking to maintain their perfect detection rate in 2016 The free version of this app also includes a bunch of anti-theft tools. You can remotely locate and lock your smartphone or tablet, and you can prevent anyone from uninstalling apps by using password protection.
#4 – Avira
Avira is a lightweight antivirus app with a clean, minimalist design. It has a 99.9% threat detection rate, and the free versions come with all the usual scanning and detection tools you’d expect from an app on this list. What sets Avira apart is the identity safeguard tool that can tell you whether your email account, or the email addresses of your friends, have been leaked or compromised. Also, this app is rounded out with a nice range of blacklisting functions to help you block problem callers or annoying spam.
#5 – AVL
This app is appealing for anyone looking for the most lightweight, simple antivirus app possible. It doesn’t have anti-theft capabilities, or identity protection, or any of the countless features the other apps possess. What it does have is a 99.8% threat detection rate, minimal impact on your phone’s battery life, and a clean, easy-to-use layout.
#6- Sophos Free Antivirus
Sophos is known as one of the IT security leaders for companies and governments worldwide. This app’s home screen is composed into six categories: Scanner, Loss & Theft, Spam Protection, Privacy Advisor, Security Advisor and the App Protection. This app has a 4.3 rating on the Play Store with nearly five thousand reviews. What’s great about it is that it provides a full range of thorough protection, detection, and advice. Most apps require payment for their top level functions, but Sophos provides all of its functions for free.
#7 – CM Security
This app is made by Cheetah Mobile, a research company that produces credible reports on the state of the Android platform with regards to scams. CM (which stands for Clean Master) is fast and comprehensive. It has often been named the #1 antivirus app by www.av-test.org, a website that provides tests and reviews for antivirus software. It has some interesting features, like the ability to unlock apps with your fingerprint. It also has a feature that takes a picture of anyone who enters the wrong password twice on your phone, and emails the picture to you. Perhaps the most impressive thing about this app is just how fast it is; it can do a scan of your phone in just five seconds.
Using the above list, you should be able to find the exact antivirus app you’re looking for, whether you’re in the market for simplicity, speed, new features, security, or a balance of all of these in 2017. When combined with general cybersecurity and some common sense, any one of these apps will give you all the security and peace of mind you could ask for.