It is a fact that smartphones are simply mobile computers. Just like desktop PCs or laptops, your smartphone also has display, processor, internal storage, RAM, GPU and more importantly, operating system. This means, it’s perfectly possible for malicious individuals to craft malware or virus for Android and iOS. With that fact in mind, many people are still wondering whether it’s still necessary to install an antivirus app for their smartphones. No computer system or device is immune, including the iPhone and iPad, despite Apple’s more controlled digital ecosystem. The cost of hacking computing systems is getting lower and incidences of digital attacks are more frequent. It’s not actually the biggest concern if your smartphone is slower or even stop working. The worst situation is if the malware is running in the background silently without showing any symptom. In the meantime, the virus quietly scans your activities and collects anything that you type in, including usernames, passwords, credit card numbers, banking PINs and others. If this happens, it is possible for hackers to steal huge amount of money and make major payments with your banking details. You may haven’t noticed any real-life attacks of smartphone viruses and none of your friends have been attacked. However, make no mistake, these viruses are still out there.
In general, Android smartphones are more vulnerable, because you have the ability to sideload apps by obtaining APK files from any online source. However, it is usually quite safe if you install apps only from Google Play store or other trusted app providers, like Samsung Galaxy store or Huawei AppGallery. These stores scan registered APKs for questionable code, which may indicate malware payloads. In many situations, you are fairly safe, if you install apps only from these sites. Be aware that when you are visiting dodgy websites, they may trick you into downloading an APK file. Only visit legitimate websites to avoid this unnecessary risk. Even if you are using only Google Play store, it is also important to choose only reputable third-party developers. There have been reports that game cheat apps in Google Play store have hidden malware that managed to circumvent Google’s Bouncer technology. One more risky situation is if you regularly accept emails with attachments. When a co-worker or friend sends you an email attachment, he may not realize that his smartphone has been compromised and the attachment has embedded malware. This is a rare situation and major email providers like Gmail scan attachment automatically. If you are concerned about this situation, it is a good idea to install a third-party antivirus app.
However, be aware that more than half of Android antivirus apps don’t actually work. If you want to use an effective app, consider installing one from Symantec, AVG, Avast, Trend Micro, McAfee, Kaspersky or Bitdefender. Make sure that you don’t install a cloned antivirus app that can be loaded with malware or virus. It is probably a good idea to install an antivirus app if your manufacturer no longer releases security patches for your older smartphone model.