You might have noticed that we're going to talk a little extra about security and privacy this week here at Android Central. It's a discussion worth having. We've asked a few security and/or privacy related questions in polls past, things like lockscreen security (use it), app permissions, and Google's privacy policy, but we haven't hit this basic one just yet. Tonight, let's change that.

Do you use a security application?

One of any type -- a malware scanner, a remote lock and wipe tool, a "find my phone" tool, or even a net nanny app for the kids. If you use one, let us know!



Reader comments

Late-night poll: Do you use a security application?


My Exchange account for work provides a remote wipe, so yes. I also have a pattern lock, simple enough to allow one-hand use. However, all the FUD in the world wouldn't be enough to make me install a "malware scanner".

You can never be too safe. Lockscreens can be defeated way too easily, especially cipher locks, or 4 digit passwords. As for pattern locks, even if you have the highlighting feature turned off and only use hepatic feedback all it takes is someone watching once or twice to figure out the pattern. Complex aLph@ nUmeR1CAL passwords are tough to beat. I use app locks and other security apps to keep my customers and my data as safe as possible. Yes, it gets annoying as hell unlocking your screen, then opening an app just to have to input another password but in the long run its well worth the extra effort for a little more peace of mind. With that being said, the best security I've found besides these and the traditional AntiMalware, AntiSpyware, AntiVirus programs is always keeping my devices safe and in only my possession. Just my two cents.

I'm going to apologize in advance for the wall of text and I'm sure most will skip over this comment without reading it simply because of it's length, but here goes anyways... I never have and never will use security apps. I don't for my computers (Microsoft and Linux OS's), I don't for my tablet, and I don't for my phone. Viruses are out there, I know, but in the 15+ years of me owning a computer I think I can only recall having 1 MAYBE 2 viruses. And guess what, even when I did I was running antivirus/antimalware programs. You can spend your life trying to protect your electronics, but in the end, someone's always going to be smarter and find a way around any form of protection. The best I've ever seen any of these types of programs do is alert you when there's problem, but have never seen them actually fix an issue. So, in essence, the only thing I've seen these sorts of "protection" programs do is bog down a system. Some are better than others in this respect, but even a 5% system drain isn't worth it just for a notification there's a problem (which you probably would have noticed anyways). I work for one of the major US cell carriers. Customers come in and ask me every day about security on mobile devices. I never tell them to install it (or uninstall it) if they already have it on there. I do, however, tell them that I don't see it as relevant. At the end of the day, it's all about peace of mind (as proglowdetail) said. If you feel more secure with it, go for it. As a final remark. I DO see the use/need for location security programs should your phone be lost or stolen. I very strongly recommend to my customers they install some form of backup plan should their phone no longer be in their posession. (OR PlanB app if they've already lost it). Otherwise antivirus and antimalware apps... don't waste your time (or battery for that matter). /end rant

So you NEVER HAVE and never will use security apps? But when you did catch a virus you WERE RUNNING an antivirus/antimalware program? Interesting...

I read the whole thing, and mostly agree with you. I don't use any security app on my phone either. A lot of people seem to place a high value on the data on their phone, or the access anyone in possession of their phone would have to their personal or financial information. Yet these same people apparently consider a lost phone to be a normal, or at least foreseeable, occurrence, and they look at malware an inevitable. If they actually treated their phone as the high-value device they believe it to be - instead of leaving it laying on a table somewhere, in some bag they're carrying, or in a purse or jacket pocket hanging on the back of a chair, or willy-nilly installing apps from God-knows-where - a lot of the problems they fear would be avoided.

That said, some people need a little help. I've never been hit with a virus on my own PC, but I wouldn't dream of leaving the machines my wife and kids use without protection. In the end, people want to feel safe. For some that means being careful and using common sense; for others, it means installing anti-malware and post-theft/loss apps. But I get tired of members of the second group beating their drums and reciting their mantra in an attempt to win over members of the first group.

I actually don't download too many apps on my phone so I never saw the need for a security app. If I was sideloading a lot of stuff I would but right now I fail to see the need.

if you're a particularly scatter brained person proned to losing their phone, lookout or similar apps might be useful for their lock and wipe and device locator services...and most business exchange servers enforce security policies on your phone in order to protect their own interest...but other than that, there's really no need/use for security apps on a phone, its not that hard to tell when an app or website looks shady.

I have Avast installed. It scans apps I install to be sure they're legit (I have a habit of sideloading apps, though usually I'm very careful of sources, i.e. I don't pirate them), but I mainly have it for the "Lost Phone" feature. It works great, especially on root devices, as it implants a hard to remove app and hides it. Basically, even a hard reset won't remove my "Find Phone" capability, in case it is ever stolen. Basically, I'm not really worried about malware, but it never hurts to have some basic protection, especially against theft.

Lookout on my phone, but I do have the silly security scanner turned off. Avast on my shiny new Kindle Fire.There is about as much need for antimalware apps on Android as there is on Linux which is zero.

I'm testing out the new Vipre app. Previously been using Lookout mainly for the remote location and wipe capabilities. Not as worried about malware as I am my phone growing legs and walking off.

my sister runs LookOut Security app and every time i see it i cringe and tell her to uninstall that useless app. she only installs apps from the market anyway. i also advised her that when she is thinking of installing an app make sure to read the reviews and look for any red flags. useless things always running in the background.
all they do is spread F.U.D.
useless apps.

am i missing something? what's wrong with lookout? I just want remote wipe and the device locator functions. Scanning the apps doesn't seem to hurt anything though.

depending on the phone you have it usually has a locator app installed. i have the Evo 3D it comes with the feature when you register the device.
you gotta be pretty clumsy to lose a phone.

I'm using pattern lock, and in the event that my phone is lost or stolen, I can do a remote wipe and lock from Outlook Web Access using Exchange.

Anyone know of a remote wipe/lock app that works outside of the U.S.? I'm in Pakistan, so I know Mobile Defense doesn't work here...


I use lookout just for the find my phone. Although It will probably be more important to find my missing hand first.

I use Cerberus with the lock screen. That way if you enter the wrong code three times I get emailed a picture of you while I'm trying to locate my phone :)

Cerberus is awesome for attempting to get your phone back or at least nuking it. I use the word attempting because if the crook wipes the phone, it's done.

As for security....the best advice: STOP LEAVING YOUR DANG PHONE SITTING ON THE TABLE WHILE YOU GO GET COFFEE/FOOD. I can't tell you how many times I see this (and laptops) in coffee shops and other places.

Ditto. I'm frankly surprised more people aren't using Cerberus. Great range of features and until you need it, you hardly know it's there. Very small footprint, considering how much it does. It was voted top security app by Android Police at one point, which is how I stumbled on it. Love it. As far as I can tell, it's only shortcoming is that it's hard to pronounce. I keep wanting to say: "Sarah-Bus." Gotta bone up on my mythology, I guess.

i use Lookout and it works. i use it mainly for the "Find My Phone" feature but i like the spyware/malware checker.

i tested it against the SMS Replicator Spyware App and it caught it!

this SMS Replicator is a real App that someone could surreptitiously install on your device. i like the fact the Lookout would catch it and comparable spyware. i like that piece of mind.

i also like Lookout because unlike some others -

1. Developers are based in the USA. i trust them more.
2. Lightweight and Efficient and Simple.
3. Free.
4. Fast.
5. Regularly Updated/Great Support.

Not needed. Everything you read about virus and malware on Android is still all stuff that can "potentially happen". Once, if ever, it is mainstream and present even when I don't install porn apps or do other stupid things on my phone I might think about it. Until then I don't need these apps scanning everything on my phone.

You guys have a lot of great comments and most all of it is true. I run my business off my phone, tablet and laptop. Having so much customer info on my devices and for them to trust me with that information is a privilege. I feel the need as a responsible business owner to protect my customers. In the 15 years I've owned my company I have never once lost a device. I know it can happen to anyone at anytime without their knowledge. I have employees who use all different types of cases from otterbox to velcro pouches. I've watched their phones pop out of their cases and I've seen the belt loop tear off others. In the end what is a little extra peace of mind. If anyone is interested, I use NG AntiVirus. AC did a review of it a month or so ago and its the best I've found yet.

I have Prey installed on my phone. It's a find my phone type app that will relay GPS position, surrounding networks, and such when activated by a text message. I have it mainly to find my phone if/when I misplace it and in the event my phone ever gets stolen I can attempt to recover it.

My company requires that Juniper Networks Junos Pulse be installed on my phone to be able to access my work email account.

I've tried Lookout months ago, but it was hogging up too much resources. Tried that App Protector password app, same problem.

The best security is YOU! If you stop treating your $500+ device like your god damn notebook, and actual notebook not a laptop, you wouldn't need any security app! Don't leave it lying around carelessly, don't install random apps that look "cool" without reading the permissions. And lastly just know that no matter how thick that Gorilla Glass is, it might crack if you treat your phone or tablet like car keys.

After all that, I think location apps might come in handy when some asshole knocks you out and takes your phone or tablet...not that useful though if you live and work in nice neighborhoods.

I just checked out app. Its now loaded and if it works as advertised, I'm sure I'll be purchasing it...and putting it on all my family's phones.

Surprised nobody mentioned AndroidLost. I highly recommend it. Features are close to Cerberus but it's free!