Since we use our smartphones to connect to the internet and download software and files, it makes sense that they are exposed to malicious activity. So, do our smartphones come with antivirus software, or do you have to manually install a program?
Do You Need Antivirus on Your Phone?
In other words, you must have some form of security software present and active on your smartphone, whether it’s built-in or manually installed.
Smartphones can now support millions of different apps, connect to the internet, use Bluetooth and NFC, and give us access to social media on-the-go. You can’t do much with a smartphone, but this wide range of capabilities makes them vulnerable to malware. Cybercriminals can take advantage of your phone physically and remotely—to steal data, monitor activity, take control of the device itself, or otherwise.
For example, you can send and receive emails through your smartphone, exposing you to email-based phishing campaigns, which are often used to spread malware. In addition, you can download any number of different files and apps to your phone, which are also popular malware vectors. Many of us also store very important information on our phones, such as payment information within banking and shopping apps.
So, it is safe to say that our smartphones are the main target of many hackers.
If you’re using a very basic phone that doesn’t connect to the internet, it’s easy to imagine that your chances of getting malware are significantly lower. Smartphones come with many security protocols to combat cybercrime, but this does not mean they are safe.
With so many digital threats today, it’s a good idea to give your phone a high level of security to ensure your data is kept safe. But does this mean you have to download an app on your own, or is your smartphone safe enough as it is?
Do All Phones Have Antivirus?
The answer to this question varies depending on the type of smartphone you are using. Apple’s iPhone range, for example, has a highly secure operating system designed to ward off malware and viruses. All in all, iOS software acts as an antivirus layer for iPhone users, but this does not mean that iPhone hacking is impossible.
In any case, due to Apple’s built-in antivirus protocols, many iPhone users do not install any additional antivirus software (nor do they need to).
The situation is somewhat similar for Android-powered phones. Google, the developer of the Android operating system, offers Android smartphone users Google Play Protect, which is a type of antivirus software designed to keep users safe from malicious apps. According to Google, Play Protect scans 125 billion apps every day to ensure that no malicious activity is carried out on devices.
Google Play Protect also has device security features, such as PHA (Potentially Harmful Applications) scanning, a safe browsing API, and reCAPTCHA for risk analysis. This software is used by many Android-powered smartphones, including Samsung, OnePlus, and HTC.
If you’re using a Samsung phone, you may have also noticed that it uses Knox. Samsung Knox is a type of security management solution that comes as a default feature on many Samsung devices (including smartwatches). It offers malware and virus protection and secure data storage to protect your device and the data it stores. However, Knox is more focused on professionals and businesses than single users.
There are actually many smartphone manufacturers that provide their products with built-in antivirus capabilities, including:
However, it is important to note here that some smartphones are more secure than others. OnePlus, for example, uses Google Play Protect, but doesn’t come with any other type of antivirus software installed. There is a level of protection provided here, but it seems not as comprehensive as other brands, such as Samsung and Apple.
If your smartphone comes with some kind of pre-installed antivirus software, you can be safe enough without downloading anything. Many view the default antivirus protocols as sufficient on smartphones, but if you’re concerned about security, you might want to consider installing an additional antivirus client to give you an extra layer of protection (or peace of mind of the mind, at least).
There are many antivirus apps available for smartphones from reputable names, such as McAfee, Norton, Bitdefender, and Malwarebytes. Some of these apps are free to use, especially if you’re already signed up with an antivirus provider on your computer. Make sure the app you want to use has a solid reputation before installing.
Additional Ways to Protect Your Phone
Antivirus software is definitely not the only way you should protect your phone. If security and privacy are a priority for you, there are other things you can do to keep your device safe.
For example, when you connect to the web on your smartphone, using a VPN can ensure that your browsing traffic and IP address are kept hidden from your internet service provider, the government, and other parties. Most VPN providers offer smartphone apps for users, including ExpressVPN, SurfShark, ProtonVPN, TunnelBear, NordVPN, and IPVanish. There are free VPN smartphone apps out there too, but make sure they are trustworthy, as free VPN services can be dangerous at times.
Furthermore, you can avoid phishing attacks via email by using anti-spam features in your email app and blocking suspicious addresses.
Some malware can also be manually installed on a smartphone, such as spyware. To prevent any unauthorized physical access to your phone, use password protection, facial recognition, and fingerprint scanning. You can also password protect specific apps, such as those that store highly sensitive information.
Your Smartphone Needs to be Protected
While it’s easy to assume that your phone will never be targeted by a malicious actor, this isn’t the case. Smartphones have become hot commodities for cybercriminals, so it’s important to take your security and privacy seriously. Most smartphones come with some form of antivirus protection, which is great for users, but also consider the additional tips above to keep your phone as safe as possible.