Google’s Android operating system far and away dominates the mobile market with more than 68 percent of devices running the open source OS, according to research firm IDC. Whilst this much market share means availability on more devices, the open nature of its code also means more eyes looking at what makes Android tick—including the bad guys.
Android is a frequent target for hackers, not only because its code is freely available, but also because of the somewhat less than stringent standards for application submissions, especially compared to other platforms such as Microsoft Windows or Apple iOS.
Security companies are detecting new strains of malware attacking Android devices and infecting applications hosted on Google Play by the tens of thousands. It’s not a good state of affairs for the 105 million devices that IDC says are running Android.
What to do?
Numerous security applications are available for Android devices, addressing a lot more than anti-malware; most traditional security companies that offer anti-malware for your desktop and laptop also offer it for mobile devices. So here’s a look at the 20 must-have Android security apps that address issues beyond malware protection, such as transaction security, data protection and the integrity of your online credentials.
- mSecure Password Manager: Features encryption technology that secures everything stored in your digital wallet, including username-password combinations and transaction account numbers, and even automated backup of encrypted data on a SD card. Also contains a password generator that comes up with complex passwords.
- SplashID Safe for Android: Hackers are targeting passwords and other legitimate credentials more than ever to access accounts and network resources. With SplashID Safe for Android, users have a data vault on their devices to securely store personal information such as passwords, PINs, and even credit card numbers and keep that information from prying eyes. Also, use this app as a backup for your personal data that can be synchronized between an Android device and a Mac or PC.
- SeekDroid AntiTheft & Security: In addition to remote lock and wipe features, SeekDroid helps you physically find a lost device. GPS tracking enabled on the device allows you to find it fast, or a complementary feature prevents your phone from being tracked while it’s in your possession.
- Safe Notes: Sensitive data isn’t limited to application data or passwords on your Android device. Personal or work notes can also contain information you wouldn’t want out in the open. Safe Notes is a free security app that encrypts notes and allows access only via a PIN or a secret question.
- B-Secure Tracker: Lost or stolen devices can be used against thieves. B-Secure Tracker not only provides you with a remote portal to see where a lost device might be located on Google Maps, but a feature can be initiated that snaps photos and records the voice of your thief, and then emails the files to you.
- Secure Settings: An Android plug-in, Secure Settings provides you an interface where you can reset your access code, enable or disable wireless ADB, GPS, device wake and more.
- Remote Security: Covers all the bases for lost devices. Users can remotely lock their device, trigger a burglar alarm on the phone, force the phone to call a pre-determined number and remove sensitive data such as SMS messages.
- eWallet: Brings a higher level of password and credential security to Android devices. EWallet is a longtime standby, securing not just credentials, but financial account information and other sensitive data.
- GadgetTrak Mobile Security: A multipurpose business and consumer security application, GadgetTrak secures many layers of an Android device. Software and security settings on the device are tamper proof, and any unauthorized changes to a SIM are flagged. The app also includes GPS tracking, remote wipe and backup-encryption features.
- SPB Wallet (No longer available as of Feb 2019): Security application that stores and encrypts passwords and payment card data, securely syncs with other devices, as well as providing keylogger protection, clipboard cleanup features and phishing protection.
- Password Box: Password management can be a pain, but apps such as PasswordBox hope to ease that discomfort. The app provides secure storage of credentials on the device, an automated daily encrypted backup to a SD card, and more.
- Perfect App Protector Pro: Worried about the credentials you use just for certain applications, such as online banking, email, or social media? This security app allows you to select the applications you want and secure them with a separate passcode. You can also extend this protection to data such as photos, or even your device’s camera.
- AirCover Security Suite: This security app features six utilities geared toward the protection of data and your family. Alerts can be set up when a family member is in an emergency situation. It also includes lost device protection (GPS, remote lock and wipe), as well as privacy protection and cloud backup.
- Pocket: Sensitive information such as financial account numbers, passwords and more shouldn’t be stored in a notepad app or in contacts. Pocket provides a secure place to keep this information away from prying eyes. Data is encrypted and accessible via a master passcode, which is not stored locally. You also get online automatic Dropbox backup.
- DataVault Password Manager: Users will be familiar with the app’s interface; it displays items in folders similar to Windows Explorer. The app generates passwords to meet any complexity criteria and shows the user a strength meter for their passcode. In addition to encryption and on-device backup to a SD card, users can also set a security timeout and a maximum number of login attempts.
- BioWallet Signature (No longer available as of Feb 2019): Users sign in with their written signatures, bringing another level of biometric protection to Android. The signature essentially decrypts sensitive data stored in an eWallet feature.
- BoxCryptor: Third-party online storage applications such as Dropbox or Google Drive are increasingly popular with users. BoxCryptor brings a layer of security to the equation by encrypting files stored in these cloud-based services.
- CryptRoll Secure Notepad (No longer available as of Feb 2019): CryptRoll not only encrypts notes you make and take on an Android device, but it stores those encrypted files on Google Docs for you, rather than on the local drive. You also get a secure text editor and the ability to encrypt SMS or email messages.
- Seal App Locker (No longer available as of Feb 2019): Protect any application you choose with a password or Android patter. The application helps you pick complex passwords, and also identifies potentially malicious applications and puts them on a quarantine-type list for review.
- App Protector Pro (No longer available as of Feb 2019): Worried about the security of your text messages, contacts or photos? App Protector Pro puts a master password or pattern ID on any productivity or messaging app you choose. It also comes with a tasker plug-in and other customizable features.
- Kaspersky Mobile Security Keep your Android protected from viruses, Internet threats, phishing sites, spyware and spam with the latest mobile security from Kaspersky. This application can also remotely protect your data and find your phone’s location in case of theft.
- Kaspersky Tablet Security Kaspersky now offers tablet protection from internet threats, viruses, and device theft. Feel secure while you online shop, download apps and use social networks with minimal impact on tablet resources.
- Kaspersky Parental Control Protect your kids when they’re online with Kaspersky Parental Control. This application will blocks sites with inappropriate content, such as pornography, violence and drugs.