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5 free Android security apps: Keep your smartphone safe

Eric Geier | Feb. 22, 2012
There's been much controversy over mobile OS security, especially where Android is concerned.

Bottom line

Despite a confusing user interface, AVG Mobilation Anti-Virus Free is a fairly solid security app offering all the popular features for free. If you want the premium edition (for more features or the tablet app) you can get it with just a small one-time payment.

Lookout Mobile Security

Lookout

Price: Free

Other versions: Lookout Mobile Security for the iPhone (free); Lookout Premium for Android ($2.99/mo. or $29.99/yr.) adds phishing protection; backup for photos and call history, data transfer to a new phone, remote wipe/lock, support

Lookout Mobile Security offers free malware protection, contacts backup, and remote locating and alarm for both phones and tablets. Upgrading to the premium account ($2.99/month or $29.99/year) adds browser protection, an app privacy manager, backup of images and call history, and remote locking and wiping.

In addition to automatically scanning apps you install and update, malware protection includes full scans of the installed apps; the SD card, however, isn't scanned. You can set Lookout to do these full scans on a daily or weekly basis and optionally specify the day and time. The backup functionality also lets you specify when to perform daily or weekly backups of your contacts to Lookout's servers; if you're a premium user, you can back up your pictures and call history as well.

By default, Lookout appears on the notification bar and menu, displaying its status and offering a quick way to open it. The app's interface is simple and straightforward. The main screen shows the status of each feature. Though you can click on the Security or Backup icons to see the most recent activity, the app doesn't give you any thorough activity logs. To configure the app settings, you tap the Menu and Settings icons.

Lookout lets you access the status of your Lookout features and get a full activity history on its website; you can also initiate backups and restores, access the remote recovery tools (such as locating, locking and wiping), and enable or disable each feature. There's also a mobile version of the site that offers the same features.

You can find the approximate location of your device on a Google map and see the phone number currently configured on your phone (so you will know if someone replaces your SIM card). However, the remote locking feature doesn't provide a way to display a custom message on the device like some other security apps do.

Bottom line

Lookout provides a useful security app for both Android phones and tablets, along with a user-friendly website. It doesn't offer as many features as some security apps, but what it does provide is solid. It offers remote locking and wiping, but only if you use the premium service.

 

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