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11 Best Free Android Antivirus Apps To Keep Your Device .

Your smartphone is a little computer – and just like a regular computer, it’s vulnerable to viruses and other sorts of attack. That’s especially true of Android: Google’s mobile OS is more versatile and customisable than iOS, but that means it affords more opportunities for the bad guys to get inside your system and cause trouble. While it’s impossible to say for certain just how much mobile malware is out there, researchers agree that the overwhelming majority of it targets Android.

Sorry, you can’t stay safe by simply sticking to the straight and narrow. Malicious code can be hidden inside legitimate-looking apps on the Google Play Store – security researchers recently estimated that one particular piece of malware may have snuck onto as many as 12 million handsets in this way. And once such software gets onto your system it can do all sorts of things: we’ve seen malware that can pester you with advertisements, steal information from your email accounts and run up huge bills by silently accessing premium rate text and phone services.

The answer is to install a reputable mobile antivirus app that can identify such behaviour and shut down the malicious process. Typically, these tools also include a range of personal security features, to limit the damage someone can do if they steal your phone or illicitly “borrow” it. And while some features may need to be unlocked with a paid subscription, most apps will provide basic malware protection for free – so there’s no excuse for going unprotected. Here’s a rundown of our favourite Android antivirus apps, with real-world malware detection scores courtesy of

READ NEXT: The best free and paid-for antivirus software for Mac and PC

How to choose the right antivirus for you

How does malware get onto my phone in the first place

The most common way to pick up malware on your smartphone or tablet is to “sideload” software – that is, to install apps via APK files downloaded from locations other than the Google Play store. When you do this, you’ve no way of knowing what’s inside the code you’re installing. Most antivirus apps will scan new software as soon as it’s installed on your phone, and warn you immediately if it’s recognised as malicious. The same applies to installations from Google Play: in principle these should be more trustworthy, but there are plenty of instances of viruses being distributed via Google’s own app store.

As well as on-installation scanning, many antivirus apps will also carry out real-time scanning, to keep an eye on software as it runs. Behavioural detection is another feature that can keep you safe, by alerting you when an app – even one that hasn’t thrown up any security flags – is doing something that looks dodgy. Finally, most Android antivirus apps will carry our periodic or on-demand scans of your whole phone, including downloaded files. This can warn you if, for example, you’ve downloaded a file that could be harmful if you were to launch it. Taken together, these measures make it much harder for malware to sink its teeth into your smartphone.

What can I do to reduce the risk

You can do your bit by keeping an eye on what permissions your installed apps are requesting: if a simple game is saying it needs to be able to read your email and make phone calls, that’s a red flag. Some apps, such as Bitdefender Mobile Security these might try to trick you into downloading malware, or they might be used in “phishing” attacks which imitate banking sites and try to con you into entering your personal details and passwords. Such attacks can be particularly effective on mobile platforms, because you can’t always see at a glance whether the URL is pointing to a legitimate banking server, or recognise whether the overall page design isn’t quite right.

What if I lose my phone or it gets stolen 

Several apps have features that help protect your data should you lose your phone – or have it snatched. Most Android security apps let you PIN-protect applications and settings, so even if someone manages to unlock your phone, they can’t get into your email or make phone calls without knowing your secret code. (This is also helpful if you have little ones who like to borrow your phone to play games.)

Many mobile security suites also include anti-theft features that can track down the location of a stolen phone and silently report it back to you via the web console. To be fair, you can also do this via Google’s Android Device Manager web page, as well as remotely locking and erasing a missing device. These suites often go further, however: for example, you can silently capture a photo of whoever’s using the phone, to identify the thief, or receive a warning if the SIM is replaced, so you know if someone’s trying to claim your phone as their own.

The best antivirus apps for Android

1. McAfee Security premium subscription £2.49/mth, £29.99/yr

McAfee Security is a rather weird proposition: the free app gives you a strong feature set, but upgrading to an expensive premium licence adds very little of substance. Subscribers get access to telephone support and a cloud backup function for photos and other media files; that latter feature might sound useful, but it’s limited to a miserly 2GB.

The overall package is impressive. You can PIN-protect as many apps as you want, and set up secure profiles in which certain apps don’t appear. There’s web protection for Chrome, and the usual anti-theft measures that allow you to track your phone over the internet or via SMS. You can also remotely take a photo, and receive an alert if a different SIM is inserted into your phone; you can even set up a PIN that makes it impossible for a thief to uninstall McAfee without resetting the phone.

There’s also simple but smart integration with Android Wear. Not only can you set your smartwatch to warn you when your phone loses contact, you can also set up an alarm on the phone itself – to spook thieves – and automatically lock the handset.

McAfee scored an impressive 99.9% in AV-Test’s latest real-time protection test, and the same for general malware detection. It doesn’t make any sense to pay for McAfee, but if you’re looking for a free antivirus option it’s a great choice.

Download McAfee Security premium subscription £1.79/mth, £6.99/yr

Avast’s antivirus tool is our favourite free option for Windows – and its Android app is just as impressive. In AV-Test’s latest tests it blocked all known Android malware, and achieved a 99.9% real-time protection rating. That’s better than many paid-for apps.
Avast Mobile Security also scored full marks for usability, with no measurable impact on battery life or performance – although the same can be said of all six of the security apps this month.

The free app isn’t loaded with features, but you can enable a daily security scan, and PIN-protect your settings and Google Play, along with one app of your choice. You can also carry out a privacy audit to identify apps using potentially exploitable permissions – and, if you’ve rooted your phone, you can take advantage of Avast’s custom firewall. This lets you block internet access for apps, or set them to use Wi-Fi only, so they don’t eat your mobile data allowance.

As on Windows, the free Android app pushes you towards other Avast products, including the paid-for junk file cleaner and the company’s SecureLine VPN service. The interface is also dotted with third-party adverts; a low-cost subscription gets rid of these, and removes the single-app PIN-protection limitation, so you can secure as many apps as you wish. It doesn’t activate those extra Avast features, so what you’re left with is something a little less feature-filled than McAfee – but overall Avast provides excellent protection for little or no money.

Download Avast Mobile Security from the Google Play Store now

4. AVG AntiVirus Free: Decent protection, if you can live with a few adverts

Price when reviewed: Free; premium subscription £1.79/mth, £6.99/yr

Like Avast, AVG supports its free Android antivirus app with third-party adverts. Upgrading to the paid-for “Pro” edition is cheap, however, and not only banishes the ads but adds app-locking and device-locking features. You also get a neat “Camera Trap” function, which detects when someone’s trying to unlock your phone and emails you a photo of the culprit.

Even if you stick with the free product, AVG AntiVirus is far from a bare offering. As well as on-installation app scanning, there’s optional web protection to warn you if you’re visiting suspicious websites, and the option to carry out scheduled scans on a daily or weekly basis.

A simple Wi-Fi analyser is also included, which checks that intruders can’t access your network, and AVG’s free anti-theft service lets you locate your phone, sound an alarm – or, if you fear it’s lost, remotely lock it or wipe the data. Google’s free Android Device Manager offers the same capabilities, but AVG provides a friendlier front-end. If you have several devices to protect, you can use the AVG Zen portal to manage multiple installations and check settings remotely.

While AVG offers a good range of features, it annoyed us by showing adverts on the Android lockscreen. This is easy to disable, but it’s an obnoxious thing to do in the first place. It also couldn’t match the best security apps in AV-Test’s most recent malware tests: its real-time protection score of 96.2% wasn’t a disaster, but it makes AVG a tough sell when others get closer to perfect protection.

Download AVG AntiVirus for Android now from AVG

5. Kaspersky Internet Security for Android: A name you can trust, but you’ll need to pay to get the best from it

Price when reviewed: Free; premium subscription £9.99/yr

You can download and use Kaspersky’s free security app for as long as you want, with no adverts and little in the way of pushy upsell. On the face of it, that’s an excellent deal because Kaspersky delivers great protection, scoring a near-flawless 99.9% in AV-Test’s most recent tests.

What you get, though, is a minimal experience. Malware scans must be initiated manually – even newly installed apps aren’t scanned automatically – and the only other major free feature is an anti-theft module, which includes the ability to take remote photos and to automatically be notified of the phone’s new number if the SIM is changed.

Cough up £10 for a year’s subscription – or activate the 30-day trial option that’s hidden away in the Settings menu –and the app becomes much more useful. Real-time malware detection kicks in, and you’re protected not only against dodgy websites, but also from text messages containing scams or phishing links.

There are also options to block calls and SMS messages from specific numbers, and to conceal certain contacts within your address book, so that anyone prying into your phone won’t find their details. These features aren’t guaranteed to work on platforms more recent than Android 4.4 KitKat, however; if they’re important, you might want to test them out on your own phone before paying for a licence.

While Kaspersky’s protection ratings aren’t to be sniffed at, its free app is too stripped down to recommend. The full package is much stronger – but it's worth bearing in mind that it doesn’t offer much more than free alternatives such as McAfee.

Buy Kaspersky Internet Security for Android now from Kaspersky

6. Norton Security and Antivirus: A premium service for those with multiple devices to protect

Price when reviewed: Free; premium subscription £29.99/yr

Alongside the usual malware scanning tools, Norton Security’s signature feature is its App Advisor. This tool – only available to paid-up subscribers – scans the apps on your smartphone and flags any that exhibit unwanted behaviour. That might mean leaking personal data, tracking your location, displaying ads, automatically updating themselves, or gobbling up battery power and mobile data. It’s a fine-toothed approach that goes beyond merely categorising apps as safe or unsafe.

That’s not to say that Norton won’t do that as well. Indeed, in AV-Test’s latest round of testing, Norton was one of the few packages to achieve an impeccable 100% protection score. It also integrates with Google Play, inserting risk reports into app descriptions to warn you away from dodgy wares.

While free users don’t get the full App Advisor experience, you do get daily, weekly or monthly malware scans, plus all the expected anti-theft features. Similarly, while interactive web protection is for paying customers only, everyone can take advantage of Norton’s Safe Search tool, which directs you to trustworthy websites. And while Norton Security doesn’t include app-locking, it will direct you to Google Play to download Norton’s free, standalone app-locking tool.

In all, it’s hard to fault Norton Security’s credentials. The problem is the price: it costs £30 a year. That covers unlimited mobile devices, so it might make sense for a family, but most of us will currently be better off opting for Norton's multi-platform Security Deluxe package – with the current 50% off deal, £30 a year buys you protection for up to five MacOS, Windows, Android or iOS devices.

Buy Norton Security Deluxe now from Norton 

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or download Norton Security Antivirus from the Google Play Store

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Intelligent Antivirus

Blocks malware, spyware, ransomware, phishing — your next-gen protection against cyber threats.

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Stops suspicious behavior as soon as it starts — your zero-second protection against unknown threats.

Smart Scan

Detects unsafe settings and passwords, outdated apps and sketchy add-ons — your security gap sentinel.

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Automatically finds weaknesses and sniffs out unwanted piggybackers — your home Wi-Fi network watchdog.

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Removes unwanted toolbars and privacy-endangering add-ons — your browser bloatware blaster.

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Free antivirus for Windows and Android - Panda Security

Android is the most widely-used operating system in the world, and that means having the best security apps and antivirus tools for Android installed on your device is essential, as Google's OS is often targeted by malware due to its popularity.

Whatever software you use with your Android phone or tablet, you’d be wise to have an antivirus or a security app installed on your device. In this article, we’re going to highlight 10 of the best antivirus tools for Android in 2018 - most of which are completely free apps to download.

Many of them do much more than run automatic scans, and they’ll actively try to prevent malicious web pages and files from being opened or downloaded in the first place.

Call blocking

Anti-theft feature

Ad supported

Antivirus giant, Avast, has used its considerable skills to create an app which goes above and beyond a mundane scanner. Extra features in the free version include a call blocker, firewall and even an anti-theft measure allowing you to remotely lock or wipe your Android device if it goes missing.

The app used to be paid but is now free, supported by ads. You can pay a small monthly or yearly premium to remove these. Another very useful premium feature is ‘in-app locking’ whereby your device will ask for a PIN before opening certain apps. This prevents malware from launching apps such as internet banking automatically.

2. Bitdefender Antivirus Free

Minimal impact on your OS

Dead easy setup

You must schedule virus scans

Bitdefender is a big name in the security community, and its free antivirus program is extremely lightweight. In fact, it doesn’t run in the background which frees up system resources and saves on battery life.

This does mean you have to schedule scans or run them manually to be safe. This said, any new apps downloaded to your device are automatically scanned. Another advantage of this app is that it’s ready to go as soon as it is installed – no additional configuration is required. 

Just be sure that If you require extra security, sign up for a free 14-day trial of Bitdefender Mobile Security. This includes the basic antivirus as well as real-time protection for Google's Chrome browser and anti-theft features.

There's also a nifty Privacy advisor tool and adds a layer of security to your smartwatch via its WearOn technology which alerts you if you leave your phone behind. Security, not in the traditional sense.

3. AVL

Great protection provided

Light on resources

Call blocking feature

Antiy AVL is a former winner of the AV-Test (a well-respected independent antivirus testing outfit) award for best protection of mobile devices. Its features include not only an antivirus database (of course) but a scanner capable of detecting any kind of executable file making its way onto your device.

Other handy features include a call blocker to prevent malicious numbers from contacting you, as well as an anti-phishing feature to stop harmful websites from loading in the first place. The app is also designed to be light on resources, which is always handy when you’re struggling for battery life.

  • You can download AVL for free here

4. McAfee Security Power Booster Free

Extensive anti-theft features

Polices installed apps for data leakage

Ad supported

McAfee is another well-known name when it comes to antivirus software for the PC, and this Android app - McAfee Mobile Security - doesn’t disappoint. Besides the antivirus scanner itself, free features include tracking a lost device as well as locking and wiping it remotely. If your device is stolen, the app can even take a picture of the thief…

Other highlights include the ability to scan apps to check if they leak sensitive information, and lock them if necessary. McAfee will also block access to potentially malicious websites, as well as allow you to keep a blacklist of nuisance callers and texters.

5. Kaspersky Mobile Antivirus

Top-notch malware detection

Blocks malicious sites or links

Extra features are more reserved for paid app

Kaspersky has a reputation up there with the big players like Bitdefender. The free version of its security app has some impressive features, and it’s very good at picking up on malware, with a detection rate of 99.9% according to AV-Test’s trials from November 2017.

Kaspersky Antivirus Security will also try to block any malicious sites or links before you click through to them, preventing an infection from happening in the first place. A key feature is support for Android Wear which simplifies security management.

Solid protection

No adverts

Authenticator for 2FA duties

Sophos’ free antivirus app has previously won the AV-Test award for best protection in 2015. Unlike other free scanners, Sophos doesn’t contain any adverts. It does, however, block websites with potentially spammy or illegal content. 

Apps are scanned for malware or otherwise harmful content as they are installed and Sophos alerts you if they might leak any sensitive information.  The antivirus scanner can be scheduled to scan files and folders periodically, and the malware database itself is updated daily. 

The app also includes a handy QR code scanner which can be used to set up secure Wi-Fi connections. There’s also an authenticator that can generate one-time passwords for two-factor authentication.

  • You can download Sophos Free Antivirus and Security here

7. Norton Security and Antivirus

Excellent antivirus capabilities

Remote locking of phone

No malicious site blocking

This free app from Norton was able to detect 100% of all Android malware when benchmarked by AV-Test a few months ago. The scanner is powered by Norton Mobile Insight and can detect viruses inside apps and files, then remove them automatically.

Other useful security features include the ability to lock your phone via an SMS message, or if the SIM card is removed. You can also choose to remotely lock your device if it goes missing (or have it locked after 10 unsuccessful attempts to enter the passcode).

The app comes with a 30-day trial of 

8. Trend Micro Mobile Security Antivirus

Solid security

Integrated privacy scanner for Facebook

Trend Micro’s effort not only scans new apps for malware, but prevents newly installed apps from accessing other programs, which can be useful for device admins and parents.

There’s also a built-in privacy scanner for Facebook which warns you if your profile settings are displaying sensitive personal information.

The free version includes a 7-day trial of premium features. These include a malware blocker which is capable of scanning apps before they are even installed to pre-emptively avoid any potential infection. There are also utilities for safe surfing, as well as call and text filtering.

  • You can download Trend Micro Mobile Security Antivirus here

9. AhnLab V3 Mobile Security

High malware detection rates

Plenty of features

Anti-theft alarm

This security app from South Korean AhnLab is not as famous as the others on this list, but nonetheless has very high detection rates for Android malware according to AV-Test (99.6%) and runs well even on older Android devices. Indeed, it has a built-in booster to help speed up your phone’s performance. 

The app comes with a free 10-day trial of the anti-malware features which proactively search for vulnerabilities and warn you if apps could potentially leak sensitive personal information.

Other handy privacy features include a hidden gallery for personal photos and a privacy cleaner to securely clear your browsing history. Anti-theft measures include an alarm which kicks in if the device is reported lost or the SIM card is replaced. You can also remotely track, lock and wipe your device.

  • You can download AhnLab V3 Mobile Security here

10. Avira Antivirus Security

Can scan external storage

Neat Identity Safeguard feature

No blocking of malicious websites

Avira’s mobile offering will not only scan files you download and content on your phone’s memory, but it can also scan external storage such as your SD card. Applications are rated using a privacy scale to help you easily decide how much they can be trusted with your data.

The integrated ‘Identity Safeguard’ regularly checks if the email addresses in your contacts list have been involved in any major data breaches. The app is controlled by a web-based management portal, which is extremely useful if you want to set up a common policy over multiple Android devices. 

The premium version includes better support, automatic blocking of malicious websites, and more frequent updates Internet Download Manager

  • You can download Avira Antivirus Security here
  • Also check out the best antivirus

Internet Security and Antivirus from Trend Micro

  Read this article in Chinese

Android's increasing popularity has led to increased security threats, ranging from common malware to advanced Phishing and ID theft techniques. In order to help Android users to deal with these issues, many security software companies have launched their own security apps, but paying nearly 30 bucks a year for a complete mobile security app doesn't sound like a good deal, especially when there's a wide choice of free security apps that will cover all your needs including a group of complete security suites with Anti-Theft capabilities.

These are the aspects we consider when choosing and evaluating a security app:

Read also: Questions About Android Security at the end of this page.

Rated Products

Other Security Apps Reviewed

Bitdefender Antivirus Free offers optimal protection against malware for your Android device. The scanning engine is good but cloud based, which means you will need an internet connection to make it work effectively. It will scan new apps as soon as they are installed and will consume less resources than other apps. Once installed, it will work on its own without any additional configuration, making it and an ideal antimalware app for the less experienced users. Sadly, the lack of any advanced options might pose a problem for intermediate and advanced users who like to tweak settings and be in control all the time.

AVG Anti-Virus Free has a decent malware detection engine that will detect and block most of the malware that tries to get into your phone or tablet (there are dedicated versions for both kind of devices). The not-so-good part is that it could flag some legit apps and functions (such as root) as Potentially Unwanted Apps, which is not good at all and can lead you to uninstall perfectly good apps. Its secure web surfing protection does a good job and provides a hassle-free browsing experience. Sadly, the best tools are just 14-day trial versions. It also lacks protection against USSD attacks and the Anti-Theft capabilities are limited to online options.

Dr. Web Light v.7 is not a complete security suite (it lacks Anti-theft and Privacy features) but it does not promote itself as such. It is not a mediocre anti-malware app either, in fact, its detection rates are very good and the RAM usage levels are below the average. The scan speeds are fast even with the "Files on Archives" option enabled. To avoid further confussion, you must know there are 2 different versions available: v.7 (free, but will show ads in the notification bar) and v.9 (just a limited 14-day trial). If all you need is a basic and effective protection against malware and you can live without the Anti-theft and other extras, then Dr. Web Antivirus Light v.7 is a good choice.

 TrendMicro Mobile Security Antivirus has a sleek UI and a good anti-malware engine. It also includes a free privacy scanner for Facebook (it looks for unsecure settings on your account), 50 MB of cloud storage for data backup and that is where the free goodies end. Truth is TrendMicro is not an actual free security app because most of the key security functions (Secure Web Surfing, Device location, Anti-theft, Privacy Scanner, Call SMS filtering) are available only in the paid version or available as a 30-day trial. In simple words, TrendMicro is worth installing only if basic protection against malware is what you are looking for.

TrustGo Antivirus Mobile Security provides a good performance when it comes to malware detection. It also has a good Secure Web Surfing filter against malicious sites. Although it was our top-pick for this category some time ago, its latest changes introduced some permissions that required the camera to -supposedly- spot thieves and then mail it to you, but there was not such an option visible within the app and the picture never arrived to our mail. Besides, the 'Hot Apps' section recommended a lot of paid and ad-supported apps that other apps considered malware. Although good, TrustGo's methods to keep the app free are not the best ones.

 NQ Mobile Security however, most of the functions are limited or reserved for the Pro (paid) version. The app itself is small, but the RAM usage levels vary a lot without an apparent reason. It also failed to detect a lot of well-known malicious files, but due to its pretty and usable interface hundreds of users seem to like it.

Android Antivirus: Based on the name this app has, you would think it is the perfect companion for your device. Truth is that it is not. While the interface is clean and makes the app look good, the detection rates are not; only the most common threats are detected. Some of the permissions the app needs (full network access, read phone status and identity, find accounts on the device) have no reason to be there either.

Antivirus Free: It used to be an independent app but it has become a NQ Labs extension (you can read "NQ Antivirus Free" in the main screen). The virus definitions updates are free only during the first month; if you have an active internet connection it will show annoying full-screen ads every now and then and after performing a scan task. Do not let its 4.4 rating (!) fool you, as it has poor detection rates and  needs quite a lot of permissions for a merely basic anti-malware app. Definitely an app you should avoid.

Questions About Android Security

First things first. Can my Android device get infected with a "virus"

The short answer is NO. Because, you see, Android apps work under a “sandboxed” security scheme. This is a technique that places “virtual walls” between apps and the rest of the device’s software, so that the only way an app can share resources and data is by declaring permissions which restrict what actions an app can perform on your Android device, what files it can reach, and whether it can get access to your personal data or not.

Sandboxing limits the virus' capacity to infect your device, as it cannot access data from the OS and other parts of the device without a specific user-granted permission, thus annulling its capacity to replicate itself and spread from one device to another without the user knowing about it (that is what viruses do).

However, viruses are only a fraction of the vast variety of malware types out there such as trojans, spyware, exploits and fake apps, many of which do constitute a big threat to your data, your privacy and your Android device as well.

If Android cannot be infected with a “virus”, why do I need to install an antivirus app

Although Android cannot get infected with a virus because of the aforementioned reasons, it doesn’t mean it is an impregnable OS, but quite the opposite: its popularity has turned it into the crook's favorite target around the globe.

Although many security software companies have adhered to the “antivirus” term, they know they actually provide anti-malware apps bundled with privacy and anti-theft protection. We still wonder what was the reason that made these companies to insist on the “antivirus” term, because it may become rather misleading when it comes to Android, which works in a complete different way to Windows. In any case, some companies have preferred to label their respective apps as “mobile security” or "anti-malware" apps instead, which sound like more proper terms. Keep in mind, however, that security apps are only a part of the solution, as the main source of protection should come from your common sense.

To what extent is Android exposed to malware and other malicious threats

Android device shipments have exceeded 1 billion and there are over 1 million apps and games available in the Play Store, which generated billions of downloads. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that there is plenty of potential malware and other security threats designed to take advantage of careless Android users and it is there where security apps find their meaning. Beware that a security report from Kaspersky Labs made in 2014 has established that the number of malicious apps for Android has hit the 10 million mark.

Does Android have anti-theft functions

Google has launched its own anti-theft component named "Android Device Manager". It has the same functions any anti-theft tool has (locate, remote wipe, device lock) plus a bonus: you can change your device's unlock password remotely. If you have a device running Android 2.3 or later, chances are you have it already installed since it came bundled with a PlayStore update last year; if not, you can install it from the PlayStore like any other app. This security add-on is a very capable one because it integrates itself flawlessly with Android and it works with your existing PlayStore account.

We know Android Device Manager might not be everybody's cup of tea, and you can still opt for the Anti-theft module that most of the reviewed apps include, but using the former is a good way to save some RAM and storage space. Another additional benefit is that there is no need to register to a new service, therefore you will avoid providing your personal data to other companies, as if giving it to Google was not bad enough already. ;-)

Isn't downloading apps from the Play Store safe

Downloading apps from the Play Store is the best bet, although is not a guarantee that the apps are 100% safe, as Google removes a lot of scam apps from the PlayStore periodically. Therefore, a security app won't be much help, no matter how good it is, if you are the kind of person who installs anything just for the sake of it.

We know we talked about permissions already, but we have to stress this point as much as we can: permissions are key to determine how secure an app is, both to your privacy and your data. There are several ways to get apps 'for free' from alternative app markets and other unofficial sources. However, installing them exposes you to many privacy and security risks. Why The reason is simple: while modified APKs keep the functionality from the original app, they mess with the permissions on a fairly extensive basis; many permissions are removed and many others are added. Sadly, chances are you do not know what those rogue permissions do until your are victim of ID theft and other felonies or misdemeanours against your privacy.

Nevertheless, if you happen to be a very careful user with a good knowledge about Android (Linux), and you really know exactly what you are doing at all times, chances are you don't even have to install a security app at all.

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This software review is maintained by volunteer editor ryan777hubb. Registered members can contact the editor by clicking here. clicking here Canon PIXMA MG2140

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Best Free Antivirus App for Android Gizmo's Freeware

Security software is something you can’t do without. While Windows keeps getting more and more secure, so the criminals keep finding new ways to attack. Things move so quickly that simply checking for known malware is no longer good enough: your antivirus program needs to monitor and analyse everything that’s happening on your system, so that even brand new “zero-day” exploits can be blocked.

The question is, out of the dozens of security packages on the market, which one should you trust to safeguard your computer and your precious data Scroll down and you'll find our guide to what you need to know before buying a package, followed by our pick of the best antivirus software out there – a shortlist to help you pick your perfect protection.

READ NEXT: Our guide to the best VPNs for BitTorrent, Netflix US and security

How to choose the best antivirus software for you in 2018

Is it worth paying for a premium suite

A few companies offer free antivirus software, but most packages you’ll have to pay for. The headline price you see on the publisher’s website isn’t the whole story, though. Often you can save money by investing in a two-year licence, or by buying a subscription for multiple computers.

Before you sign up, be sure to check third-party retailers too – many suites are significantly cheaper on Amazon than on the publisher’s own website. The same applies when the time comes to renew your subscription: the program will present a friendly link to easily renew at full-price, but you’re normally better off ignoring this and buying a whole new copy online.

Which edition do I need

Most security publishers offer a range of products at different prices. The basic antivirus program will do the all-important job of scanning for malware, but probably not much else. The “Internet Security” suite will add extra features, such as tools to protect your privacy online. In many cases there’s also a top tier that adds features such as online backup or companion apps.

It’s also worth noting that most publishers like to brand their products with a year, and they can be quite aggressive about the timing: in some cases the 2017 packages have been out for months. But this doesn’t normally affect your licence: a 2016 subscription will often entitle you to step up to the latest version of the software whenever it becomes available.

Do I need a standalone firewall

It used to be the case that every security suite worth its salt would include a firewall, to keep out intruders, and to identify and block dodgy software that tries to “phone home”. Nowadays, Windows comes with a very capable firewall of its own, and it’s quite common for the developers of security suites to leave this in place, rather than providing their own.

Advanced users, who feel at home customising network rules, may prefer a bespoke firewall – but unless you fall into that category we’d suggest that the Windows firewall is likely to provide all the protection you need.

Do I need protection while I’m browsing the web

One of the easiest ways to get infected by malware is to inadvertently visit a dodgy website. Some sites are deliberately designed to spread malware disguised as desirable downloads – so-called “Trojan horse” attacks. Your security suite might well include a browser plugin that automatically blacklists such sites, so you can’t end up downloading something nasty by accident.

What’s harder to defend against is when a legitimate site is hacked, and starts serving up “drive-by downloads” to visitors. A good security suite will actively scan every web page you visit and every file that comes down the line, to ensure that attacks are spotted and intercepted before they can do any harm – although this has an inevitable impact on performance.

Why do some suites come with a standalone “safe browser”

Web security is especially important on banking and shopping sites: if someone managed to hijack your transactions here, they could steal your financial details and cause very serious trouble. Some suites include an entire separate browser for use on such sites, that’s specifically engineered to shut out potential hackers.

Normally, a safe browser won’t support extensions at all, and will insist on encrypted connections. It may run in a sandbox or elevated environment to prevent other running processes from spying on what it’s doing. You can normally configure your security software to automatically switch from your regular browser to the safe one when you visit specific sites, for an effortless security boost when it’s needed.

How does email protection work

As well as monitoring web page content, most security suites will also inspect incoming and outgoing email messages for dodgy attachments, or “phishing” links.

However, your security software can only examine messages that are stored on your PC, through a client like Outlook or Windows Mail. If you use Gmail or Hotmail, your security software has no way of looking inside attachments to see that they’re safe. Don’t worry too much about this, though: the very fact that attachments are stored in the cloud, rather than on your PC, makes it hard for malware to spread this way. Just don’t click on any unfamiliar links.

And what about protection for my phone and tablet

Security experts have been warning for years that smartphones and tablets are just as vulnerable to malware attacks as computers, and many security suites are partnered by apps for Android and iOS – both free and paid-for.

Android is by far the bigger market, as its much more open architecture makes it easier for malware to spread. Offerings for iOS tend to be more limited, because the much stricter security model makes it very hard for both malware and security software to operate. If you like the cross-platform approach, it’s worth considering a suite that comes with a suitable companion app.

Best antivirus software 2018

1. Bitdefender Internet Security 2018: A stellar selection of extras, plus rock-solid antivirus protection

Price when reviewed: £33 (three PCs, one year) 

When it comes to malware protection, Bitdefender’s pedigree is impeccable. In the latest tests by security specialists AV-Comparatives, it was one of only four antivirus packages to achieve a perfect 100% score – and it didn’t flag a single false positive while doing so, something no other security suite can claim. 

Bitdefender won’t get in your way, either. AV-Comparatives rated it “very fast” for both launching applications and web browsing, and the suite’s signature “Autopilot mode” makes it perfectly unobtrusive. When this is switched on, the software silently decides what to block and what to allow without involving you at all. Only the most major incidents trigger a user notification.

This year’s release also brings some great new updates, including the new “Safe files” feature, which stymies ransomware by preventing unknown applications from writing to your personal folders without authorisation. Webcam protection also warns you if something turns your camera on – ensuring you can’t be spied on.

There’s loads of other secondary features too: a custom firewall, a safe browser, a password manager, a file-encryption module and even a built-in rescue environment for recovering your PC from serious infections.

Bitdefender isn’t the cheapest suite around, but you can save money by shopping around for an old copy of the 2016 or 2017 release – which will update to this latest edition for free. Even if you end up paying the full whack, it’s well worth it for a security suite that simply can’t be beaten for effectiveness and performance. 

£23.42 Buy now

2. Kaspersky Internet Security 2018: The best choice for power users and tinkerers

Price when reviewed: £22 (three PCs, one year)

The Kaspersky brand has come in for a bit of unfortunate controversy lately, with some government agencies opting to blacklist Russian security software. For us non-spies, however, it remains an excellent defence against viruses: it achieved a very strong 99.7% score in AV-Comparatives’ protection tests, and wasn’t tripped up by a single false positive. It also has a very modest impact on system responsiveness, whooshing through AV-Comparatives’ application and web-browsing tests with “very fast” ratings in each.

Alongside antivirus and web-protection modules, it packs in all the expected goodies like Safe Money, which lets you automatically divert specific websites into Kaspersky’s own hardened browser, webcam protection and a smart ransomware-protection module.

Then there are distinctive features such as Kaspersky’s Trusted Applications mode, which neutralises drive-by downloads by automatically blocking any application that isn’t expressly whitelisted. There’s also an automatic software updater, a vulnerability scanner and an impressively flexible set of parental controls.

You even get a built-in VPN, which can be used to cover your tracks online or access blocked content – but unless you pay an extra £20 for an annual subscription, your usage is capped at just 200MB per day, and you don’t get to choose your exit mode.

A final point in Kaspersky’s favour is the very reasonable price, which is easy to swallow for three PCs. Our only caveat is that with all its features and options, Kaspersky Internet Security isn’t ideal for people who want set-and-forget security. But for power users and tinkerers it’s an excellent, extensive and highly configurable security suite.

£18.90 Buy now

3. Avast Free Antivirus: The best free option, but you’ll have to put up with a bit of nagging

Price: Free 

Avast Free Antivirus is our favourite free security tool. In AV-Comparatives’ most recent test, it blocked 99% of malware threats – a whisker ahead of Windows Defender, which only managed 98.7%. And while it incorrectly flagged three false positives, that too was better than Windows Defender, which wrongly blocked six.

Avast also comes with a good set of secondary features. The best one is the Rescue Disk creator, which gets you into a safe recovery environment with just a few clicks, and no need to mess around with bootable CDs or USB flash drives. The Online Security browser extension helps block threats to your security and privacy. And there’s a free password manager too, which can store and synchronise your credentials across Windows, macOS, Android and iOS.

The catch is the relentless upsell. The interface is packed with buttons for premium features that aren’t included in the free package, such as a firewall and a ransomware shield: click one and you’ll simply be prompted to buy the upgrade. You’ll also see occasional popups each time an update is downloaded. If you hate intrusions then these might drive you mad, but if you ignore them they disappear after 30 seconds.

Avast also installs a browser extension that tacks a banner onto the top of your browser, alerting you to cheap deals when you’re shopping online. You probably don’t want this, but since it’s a regular browser extension, it can be easily disabled. 

Avast Free Antivirus might have its foibles, but overall it gets enough right to remain our favourite free antivirus program overall, combining strong anti-malware performance with solid features and a light impact on system performance.

Download Avast Free Antivirus now

4. Panda Free Antivirus: Not perfect, but an attractively lightweight alternative to Windows Defender

Price when reviewed: Free

Panda Free Antivirus is one of the simplest antivirus utilities there is. In terms of malware protection, all you get is basic file scanning, a browser extension for Chrome, Firefox and IE, and a USB “vaccination” tool to protect your flash drives against infection.

You also get a Process Monitor that flags any unrecognised or unsigned programs running on your PC. And in cases of severe infection, the Rescue Kit page lets you build a bootable USB flash drive, to kill rogue processes and unlock files.

If you’re turned off by bloated security suites, this compact feature set may sound very appealing. There are some caveats, though. First, the Safe Web extension annoyingly requires you to use Yahoo! as your default search engine. We quickly ended up disabling it just to get back to Google.

Panda also weighs relatively heavily on system performance. AV-Comparatives rated first-run application launch speed as merely mediocre. Web browsing was similarly sluggish, although ditching the Safe Web extension ought to speed things up. Still, it’s faster overall than Windows Defender.

Lastly, the interface is probably the least intuitive we’ve seen: icons and links seem to be spotted about at random. Happily, once you discover the Settings pane, the controls are quite logical. You can even disable the occasional pop-up adverts for Panda’s paid-for security suite – take note, Avast.

It adds up to a likeable little antivirus tool – and best of all, Panda achieved a perfect 100% score in AV-Comparatives’ malware detection test. If you’re looking for bare-bones protection that doesn’t get in your face, Panda Free Antivirus is the perfect choice.

Download Panda Free Antivirus now

5. Symantec Norton Security Deluxe: A flexible security suite that delivers perfect protection at a great price

Price when reviewed: £23 (five PCs, one year)

The “Deluxe” in the name suggests extravagance, but it simply means you can install the software on five devices (be they PCs, Macs or Android smartphones). There’s also a Premium edition, which supports up to ten devices and adds parental controls and a backup module with 25GB of cloud storage. Whichever version you choose, you get a powerful antimalware engine, which blocked every single virus that AV-Comparatives threw at it, for a perfect 100% protection score.

You also get some useful browser extensions. Norton Identity Safe does double duty as a password manager and an anti-phishing tool, while the Norton Security Toolbar provides a security rating for every site you visit, and adds colour-coded indicators to search results in Google, Bing and Yahoo! You don’t need to buy Norton Security to get these extensions though – they’re also available as free standalone downloads.

One notable strength of Norton Security is the way it caters for both beginners and experts: the default settings will keep you very safe, and you can even turn on Silent Mode for no interruptions at all. Tinkerers however can browse through pages and pages of controls, and customise almost every aspect of the package’s behaviour.

In all, while Norton’s secondary features may not add much value, it’s a very effective suite with a broad appeal – and if you’ve five devices to protect then the price is attractive too.

£21.99 Buy now

6. Eset Internet Security: Effective yet system-friendly - the only catch is the price

Price when reviewed: £50 (three PCs, one year) 

Eset has a reputation for forensic accuracy and light-footed performance – and in AV-Comparatives’ tests, its latest security suite repelled an excellent 99.7% of threats. It fared well in the performance tests too, proving very fast for web browsing, and for file copies. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for opening applications: here, first-run opening speeds were merely mediocre.

The lightweight concept extends to the interface, which feels quite minimal. However, there’s more going on than meets the eye. Click into the Network protection settings and you’ll find a configurable firewall hidden away, with a clever “Learning mode” that helps you create an initial set of rules by simply using your computer as normal. There’s webcam protection too, and a feature like Kaspersky’s that lets you specify sensitive websites that should always open in the hardened Banking Payment protection browser. Tucked away at the bottom of the Settings tab, you’ll even find a simple parental control feature.

In short, while Eset Internet Security’s understated approach is a breath of fresh air, the suite is actually much more versatile than it at first appears. Our only concern is the price: at £50 for a three-device licence, it’s one of the most expensive internet security suites out there.

Buy Eset Internet Security now 

7. Bullguard Internet Security: Strong protection and a decent spread of features for a low price

Price when reviewed: £18 (three PCs, one year) 

BullGuard is one of the cheapest internet security suites out there, and the flexible licence lets you install it on your choice of Windows, Mac and Android devices. Sadly, this latest edition ditches the 5GB cloud-backup service that used to be included, so it’s less of a bargain than it used to be.

On the plus side, the backup module now natively supports backing up to Dropbox, Google Drive and OneDrive – a clever use of free resources. Other welcome features include a standalone firewall, and a tune-up module that helps you free up wasted disk space and manage all the various processes that start up with Windows.

BullGuard also comes with parental controls, allowing you to set usage limits and block specific websites and applications. Some of this merely duplicates Windows’ built-in family features, but BullGuard wins out with its category-based web filtering: Microsoft only offers a blanket block on “inappropriate websites”.

And as for antivirus capabilities, we’re pleased to report that AV-Comparatives saw BullGuard successfully block 100% of real-world malware samples – although you might want to keep an eye on what it’s flagging, as it also incorrectly raised the alarm over eight legitimate apps. System performance was a little uneven: web-browsing speed was fast, but both copying files and launching applications for the first time were rated as merely mediocre.

It’s a shame that BullGuard no longer offers free cloud storage, as that really helped its security suite stand out from the crowd. Still, you get a decent range of features and a multi-platform antivirus engine that won’t let any nasties through the net – so it remains a decent purchase for a very low price.

£10 Shock 4way

75 Buy now

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