Security for Android Devices

,Security for Android Devices

Android Security, Fair Use

Security is an issue for all mobile devices (iPhone, Windows Phone, Android, etc.). Sites like Lookout Mobile Security address security concerns for mobile devices running on various operating systems. The Lookout website contains articles on mobile security and frequently publishes lists of malware. Lookout also provides details about Top Threat applications, including how the applications work and who might be affected. However, I found it helpful to look at security applications by operating system. This article is only reviewing free Android security applications.

There are several free applications that can help secure your Android device. Two excellent antivirus programs are avast! Mobile Security and AVG Antivirus Security. Mobiwol developed a firewall that does not require root access. APP Lock by DoMobile allows you to add password protection to any program. Norton Spot Ad Detector helps identify programs which connect to aggressive advertising networks and display intrusive advertisement. The Norton program spots the aggressive mobile advertising (madware), then the user decides whether to keep or uninstall the application. Another option is to block the madware's access to the internet by using the Mobiwol firewall.

,avast! Mobile Security

avast! Mobile Security, Fair Use

avast! Mobile Security

The free application avast! Mobile Security by avast contains numerous features to help keep your Android device secure. The program scans your computer looking for malware, viruses and spyware. The scans can be run on demand and can also be scheduled to run automatically. avast! Mobile Security also contains a privacy advisor that evaluates all the applications and lists them in the following categories:

  1. Track Location - tracks your geographical location.
  2. Read Identity Info - read you mobile number, serial number, or other data.
  3. Access Messages - can access your SMS and MMS messages.
  4. Access Contacts - can access your contact list.
  5. Access Accounts - can access your accounts.
  6. Change Secure Settings - can change secure settings.
  7. Access Web Pages - can access web pages you open.

Additional program features include:

  1. Scan incoming messages (SMS) for viruses, phishing, malicious content.
  2. Block messages from unknown numbers.
  3. A firewall (requires root access).
  4. A Network Meter that shows the amount of network traffic associated with each application.
  5. Anti-Theft protection that enables you to find the device and control it remotely.

Below is a video by avast! on its Mobile Security application:

More details about the application are available at the avast! Free Mobile Security website.

,AVG Antivirus Security

AVG Antivirus Security, Fair Use

AVG Antivirus Security

Another excellent free security program is Antivirus Security by AVG. The AVG program contains virus and malware protection, a real-time application scanner, a phone locator, a task killer, and a local device wipe. The auto-scan frequency can be set to once a day, once a week, or can be turned off. There is also an option to perform a deep scan of all files. Additional functions in this program include:

  1. Monitor data usage by application.
  2. Display all applications in a list for uninstalling.
  3. Call and message blocker.
  4. Wipe data for entire device, just the SD card, or by data categories.
  5. Anti-Theft protection.

Below is a video by AVG on its Mobile Anitvirus application:

More details about the application are available at the AVG Antivirus website.

,Mobiwol: NoRoot Firewall

Mobiwol: NoRoot Firewall, Fair Use

Mobiwol: NoRoot Firewall

Most firewalls for mobile devices require root access. However the free application Mobiwol: NoRoot Firewall by Mobiwol does not require root access. Mobiwol is a security tool which controls Android adware, spyware and malware by informing you which applications are accessing the internet and by allowing you to allow/block internet access on a per-application basis. Blocking an application's access to the internet can prevent unnecessary usage of data, block advertising, and extend the time your battery will remain charged. However it may also block security updates from getting to the application, so you must decide if you want to block internet access on a per-application basis. Mobiwol provides a connection log so you can view the time, IP address, and host for each internet connection.

Mobiwol works by simulating a VPN connection which means all the applications access the internet through Mobiwol. Mobiwol explains their use of VPN:

Why does Mobiwol show as using a VPN connection?

This is superficial. We’ve used technology available to us from within the VPN packaging module offered by Android to be able to gain visibility to your applications’ network activities, but no actual VPN connection is being made, no data is being sent externally by our application, and we do not tamper with the security of your personal data so you can continue using your apps with peace of mind, and confidence that you will not end up with a higher than usual data bill at the end of the month.

If you have a rooted device there are more secure firewalls available. However if your device is not rooted, Mobiwol seems to be the only option available at this time.

Below is a video by Mobiwol on its Firewall application:

More details about the application are available at the Mobiwol website.

,APP Lock

APP Lock, Fair Use

APP Lock

The APP Lock application by DoMobile allows you to password protect any of your applications. APP Lock initially prompts you to set up a numeric password with an optional password hint. The application also has you set up a security question and answer that is used for resetting your password. You are then able to access a list of applications can be password protect by tapping on a lock icon. Password protection is removed by tapping on an unlock icon. Additional features for the application include:

  1. Widget for quick locking/unlocking.
  2. Locks incoming or outgoing calls.
  3. Lock system Settings.
  4. Lock Google Play Store.
  5. Quick lock switcher on status bar.
  6. Re-lock policy: allow short exit, no need to unlock again.
  7. Prevent apps from being uninstalled.
  8. Hide App Lock's icon from launcher.
  9. App Lock can be prevented from being uninstall.
  10. App Lock cannot be killed by task killers.
  11. Little memory footprint and power-saving.

More details about the application are available at the DoMobile website.

,Norton Spot Ad Detector

Norton Spot Ad Detector, Fair Use

Norton Spot Ad Detector

The Norton Spot Ad Detector application by Norton Mobile scans and identifies applications that display intrusive ads. The offending programs are put into two lists. The first list sorts applications by potential annoyance level. The second list categorizes the applications by the following behaviors:

  1. Collects location coordinates.
  2. Collects mobile network info.
  3. Collects device info.
  4. Displays ads in the app.

You can select a program in the list and it will identify the advertising network(s) used in the application. I noticed that a very popular free mobile game uses the following ad networks (AdMob, Burstly, InMobi, and Jumptap). The Norton program contains an option to uninstall any of the applications listed. The following video provides more information about the Mobile Norton Spot application:

More details about the application are available at the Norton website.