Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few months, you will have heard stories about the increase of viruses on smartphones, particularly on Android.
The world of computers has been plagued by viruses for as far back as we can remember, but as the line between computers and smartphones continues to blur these virus are now migrating to the smartphone world.
It is easy to see why too. As phones become so complex that they begin to resemble their desktop or laptop cousins, and with global smartphones overtaking computer sales, it was only a matter of time before virus creators jumped platform.
For the user, the risks have never been higher. If your phone runs Android for example, then you’re probably using several Google services which maintain your address book, your calendar, your email and so on. You might have also handed over your credit card details to Google Play (formerly the Android Market).
Furthermore, if your device has been stolen or lost, then most of this information can be readily accessible to a malicious third-party. On top of that, your phone is probably logged in to all of these services, making it even easier for someone access your personal data.
This might all sound like your worst nightmare and you can be forgiven for wanting to dig out your old “feature" phone from your desk draw; but there is a simple solution in the form of smartphone-based anti-virus and anti-theft software.
While most smartphone users will have heard of anti-virus software for computers, many are not aware of a smartphone version of this software. If you know anything about anti-virus software for computers however, then you will have come across Bitdefender Antivirus. Bitdefender is currently used by over 400 million users worldwide and the company is one of the leading anti-virus providers in the market.
The good news is that the company now offers a great anti-virus and anti-theft solution called Bitdefender Mobile Security, available from Google Play. The App is a Freemium App which in this case means you get access to all of the premium services for a 14-day free trial. After the trial you still have access to the core services (including anti-virus), however there is a cost for the advanced services.
Bitdefender is very easy to setup. Once it has downloaded and installed, then you’re protected straight away. The software cleverly uses cloud-based threat detection which means you are constantly up-to-date and the load is carried out by external servers, meaning the software won’t drain your phone’s speed or battery life unnecessarily.
After installation, you will be presented with five services:
Anti-Virus / Malware Scanner (Free) – This core service will scan all Apps as they are installed, to protect you against viruses and malware. Unlike some other anti-virus software, you also have the ability to manually scan your phone’s memory and external memory card (if you have one). This is useful if you have copied files on to your phone from a computer or inserted an external memory card. The scan doesn’t take longer than a minute or two if you have an average amount of content on your phone.
Application Audit (Free) – This useful service shows all Apps that you have installed on your phone. It will then identify which permissions have been granted to each App. There are three buttons allowing you to filter the Apps by the following categories:
1) Internet – this shows you all Apps that can send or receive data over your internet connection.
2) Privacy – this shows all Apps that can access your personal info, such as contacts and account details. This one is particularly useful as most Apps shouldn’t need these permissions.
3) Costs – this shows Apps that have access to the phone or text message function of your device. This is useful to know as these Apps could run up bills by using these function.
Application Audit can be very useful if you have a lot of Apps installed that you infrequently use. If you see that an App has been granted unnecessary permissions and you don’t use it much, then it’s probably a good idea to uninstall it.
Web Security (Premium) – This service is turned on by default and protects you against websites that use phishing scams, fraudulent content or malware. As scammers become more and more sneaky with their tactics online, then this is a useful addition to Bitdefender’s suite of services. Note that this service only works with the default Android browser however, so if you’re using Dolphin, Firefox or other browsers, then be vigilant.
Anti-Theft – If your phone is lost or stolen, this feature offers you the following services:
1) Remote Geo-location (Free) – lets you track your phone’s location on a map if it is lost or stolen.
2) Remote Lock (Premium) – allows you to remotely lock your device so that third-parties cannot access your data.
3) Remote Wipe (Premium) – allows you to wipe your data to prevent use by someone else.
4) Send Message / Play Sound (Premium) – allows you to send a message or play a pre-defined sound, which you could use to offer a reward if someone has found your phone.
Event Viewer (Free) – This service simply lists all actions that Bitdefender has taken on your phone.
If you are looking for a solution in the form of antivirus for Android mobiles, then Bitdefender is a great choice.
If you choose to keep the Premium services after the 14-day trial then the price for the upgrade is $9.95 (€7.45, £6.95) per year.