Do You Need Antivirus for Your Smartphone or Tablet?


Windows PC users have long known the problems that come with running a computer unprotected by firewalls or antivirus, and Apple OSX users are now being targeted as their market share grows and OSX is no longer finding security by obscurity. But what about smartphones and tablets?

Our smart devices are mini computers and can hold just as much personal and financial information as home PCs, so they are certainly going to be targets, but do we need to take action on is mobile security?

If you have an Apple device – an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad – then unless you have jailbroken your device you can only install apps directly downloaded from the App Store. Apple checks each of the apps in its App Store for just such troublesome viruses, trojans, or other security issues so you are pretty well covered. If you’ve jailbroken you iDevice to allow installing non-App Store software then you are losing that security step, but with the number of users doing this so slim that iOS is not the major target for hackers. iOS users can still be affected by browser redirects and non-closing popups, but this are simply JavaScript within web pages, and whilst annoying at the time don’t really compromise a device.

Android is a very different question, however. There are huge benefits from an open system that doesn’t lock users into a specific app store or music store, but it does come with some downsides. Android is based on the Linux core, and in code is similarly secure to iOS, but as Android users can install software unchecked by Google, hackers can get much more control over someone’s Android device. If you blindly install an APK from a hacker rather than a legitimate source, then this is a big risk.

So should you get antivirus with an Android smartphone or tablet then? Well if you are installing apps from outside the official app stores then yes. Our favourite Android mobile security app is Avast as not only does it offer protection from malware and malicious apps, warns you of infected websites, and even lets you track your lost or stolen device – all for free.

…And one more thing – “adult” content. We all know that the internet was built on free access to such material and I’m certainly not one for censorship, but these darker corners of the web are where most hackers find their targets and launch new attacks. Basically, make sure you have everything buttoned down if these are the places you are visiting on your smart device.

(Image by ~rghav222/DeviantART)

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