- Generally, your smartphone shouldn’t need to run anti-virus apps to stay safe
- However, being vigilant over what you download will limit your exposure to potential danger
In a previous Tech Clinic column you said there isn’t any need to install anti-virus apps on a mobile. Why do you say this? I have free AVG and Avast anti-virus apps on my Samsung phone. Should I delete this? – Rita, Basildon
Generally, you don’t need to install anti-virus apps on your smartphone but, as an Android user, you’re at a higher risk of encountering malicious software (malware) than someone using an iPhone. The risk is nowhere near as high as on a PC, but theoretically, it is still a risk.
This is because Apple’s vetting process for apps allowed onto its App Store is historically much more rigorous than Google’s Play Store standards. So while Android users are able to choose from a greater number of apps, (around 2.1m to Apple’s 2m), tracking and remote control strains of malware have been found hidden apps readily available on the Play Store.
The reason you shouldn’t need to run an anti-virus program is down to being vigilant about what you install and run on your phone. Be wary of apps made by companies or developers you don’t recognise, and check the reviews for any clear mentions of malware or viruses.
Make sure you only download apps from the Google Play Store, not from any sites or stores supported by other companies. Check App Permissions from within the Play Store to ensure the app isn’t trying to access information or features it doesn’t need, such as cameras or microphones.
Similarly, don’t click on dodgy-looking links or accept downloads from emails from unknown or slightly misspelled addresses – they’re probably phishing scams.
By all means, keep the anti-virus apps on your phone if it reassures you it’s being protected. But keeping your handset updated to the most recent software release, which gives it the greatest security available, is likely to be just as effective.