Privacy & Android – what you need to know. Tips, apps, & more

March 13, 2012
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    Smartphone privacy has become one of the most intensely debated issues in the tech world. Most of us already back-up data, install anti-virus software on our computers, and lock our car doors. But why is it that our smartphones are going unprotected? If your device gets stolen or you accidentally download malicious applications, all your sensitive data is at risk. Texts, pictures, emails, and more could all fall in the wrong hands. Furthermore, even if you only download apparently safe and “reliable” apps, who can guarantee you that the developers are being completely honest about what they’re doing with your data?

    But do not fret, wherever there is a problem, there is also a fix. And in this case, the Play Store (ex Android Market) offers a slew of applications that will help keep your device safe and sound. Even if you have already lost your phone or if malware has already taken over, “there’s an app for that” (pardon us, Apple). In addition to the best apps to use to protect your privacy, we prepared some tips  and tricks that will help you avoid malware-infested apps. So without further ado, here is our list of the best security Android apps and tips.

    Lookout Mobile Security (Free)

    Lookout Mobile Security is, by far, our favorite security app. In addition to being free, Lookout has been around through all of the “malware crises”, helping Android device owners navigate the perilous waters of the mobile web. Furthermore, Lookout Mobile Security boasts over 15 million users on the Android platform alone!

    After downloading Lookout Mobile Security, you will gain access to the following features:

    • Antivirus: Daily, weekly, and individual app scans to check for malware, spyware, and trojans.
    • Find My Phone: Track you’re phone, even if GPS is off, and activate a loud alarm directly from myLookout.com.
    • Backup:  Backup and restore contacts.
    Once you’ve tried out Lookout, you might go for the Premium plan ($2.99/Month or $29.99/Year). This plan offers everything in the free version (seen above), as well as the following features:
    • Security: Online antivirus protection and Privacy Advisor.
    • Find My Phone: Remotely wipe and lock your device from myLookout.com.
    • Backup:  Backup and restore contacts, call history, and pictures.
    The big difference between the Free and Premium versions of Lookout is the access to advanced protection. With the Premium version of LMS, the Safe Browsing feature scans every link and site that you are browsing, to ensure that phishing and malware are kept away from your device.
    For a full list of features and differences between the Free and Premium plans, visit Lookout’s website.

    Download Link: Here

    Lookout DroidDream Cleaner

    A few months ago, Google took more than 50 apps out of the Android Market, because the apps were found to contain a piece of Android malware named DroidDream. As you could have guessed, getting malware on your device is something you should avoid at all costs. Just like a virus on your computer, smartphone malware can be very dangerous and can do crazy things to your brand spanking new Android device. However, if you have Lookout Mobile Security or any of the best antivirus apps installed on your device, chances are the malware will never make it on to your device. It is always a good idea to have some sort of security program installed. In fact, Lookout runs completely in the background, providing expert security for your Android device without any inconvenience.

    But since you don’t have Lookout Mobile Security, and you are a pretty avid Play Store user, maybe even a third party source downloader (no judging here), your device might just be infected with DroidDream malware. For you, Lookout has created an application that can detect DroidDream, and remove it from your precious device.

    Even if you don’t download apps frequently, “DroidDream Cleaner” by Lookout Labs is absolutely free. So it can’t hurt to get the app and check up on your Android device.

    Download Link: Here

    Lookout Plan B

    Now that you can track your phone’s location online, and even track other people’s locations, it is almost impossible to lose your phone, as long as you have an application that tracks your device’s locations. But what happens when you don’t have one of those programs installed? Now, thanks to Lookout Labs, you can turn to Plan B. More specifically, if you lost your phone and did not install Lookout Mobile Security or any other location tracking service, simply go to the Play Store and install Plan B remotely.

    After the app has installed, it should start up by itself. However, you may have to send yourself text messages to get Plan B going. Once it has started, Plan B will send your phone’s location directly to your Gmail address. (Plan B will send your location to your Gmail address only. Therefore, no one else can track your phone’s location) Now that you know exactly where your phone is, you can go out hunting for it. To do so, simply send a text to your phone with the word “locate”.

    And don’t worry if you didn’t have GPS enabled when you lost your phone, Plan B can automatically turn on GPS for some devices.

    Download Link: Here

    Norton Antivirus & Security (Free)

    Norton quickly became one of the most used and trusted antivirus programs for PCs. Now, with the market shifting to mobile platforms, Norton Mobile Security brings the excellent level of security and protection provided by the PC program into a mobile app.

    If your phone is ever lost or stolen, Norton Mobile allows you to remotely lock your device to protect it from prying eyes. Due to the fact that a simple passcode lock can be bypassed by a thief, the remote locking feature adds an additional layer of security for your information. Furthermore, you can locate, wipe, and even make your device “scream” remotely.

    In the most recent update to the app, Norton has also introduced a privacy guard that blocks fraudulent and phishing websites while you are surfing on the web. Finally, if you get loads of spam calls and texts, Norton lets you “block calls, block numbers, and block text messages, and keep your phone safe and secure”.

    Download Link: Here

    Norton Anti-Theft Plugin (Free)

    Norton Anti-Theft is a plugin to Norton Antivirus and Security. I am not sure, though, why they did not include this functionality in the full application, as the plug-in is free as well.

    In any matter, this plugin will enable you to locate and track your phone online. In addition, you can remotely lock your device so that intruders cannot access your information. Furthermore, Norton has taken “Anti-Theft” to the next level by utilizing the device’s webcam. The plugin takes photos of the thief and sends them to Norton’s server so that you can view the pictures online.

    Download Link: Here

    WaveSecure Mobile Security ($20/year)

    WaveSecure by McAfee offers a lot of the same features as the other tools mentioned above. Like the two other big mobile security companies, McAfee has earned their place as “award-winning”, however, unlike the other two entries, this app comes at a cost. After the 7 day trial expires, you will have to fork over $20/year to keep WaveSecure running on your Android device .

    Wave secure allows for the same locking and wiping options as Norton Security and Lookout, in addition to locating and tracking. Furthermore, in addition to scanning your device for potential threats, WaveSecure does a fantastic job at backing up your data, for quick and easy restoring in case you needed.

    What makes WaveSecure unique is an add-on, WaveSecure Uninstall Protection. After installing this app, WaveSecure Mobile Security cannot be uninstalled by any user, without first entering a password.

    Download Link: Here

    Friendly Security Tips

    1. Always have your device password protected. A simple “slide to unlock” is not sufficient. Instead, go with a number, pin, or text password. For Android 4.0 devices, the face unlock  option will do, as well. Just make sure that your identical twin is not a thief.
    2. Have your information displayed somewhere on the lock screen. (Go to settings or download this app.)
    3. Do NOT root your device unless you know what you are doing. Opening your device up and granting “superuser” access can jeopardize your phone’s security safeguards that were put in place by the manufacturer.
    4. Only download applications from the Play Store. First off, let’s be fair. If someone worked hard to make an app, it is only fair that you pay their asking price on the market. Secondly, Google works hard to ensure that all of the apps on the Store are 100% safe. Most other online sources surely do not offer this sort of protection.
    5. Always have an antivirus application installed on your device.
    6. Keep your data connections in order. Be sure to password protect all wireless hotspots, and turn off Bluetooth when it is not being used. This will minimize the chance of someone “borrowing” your network.

    Which security application did you choose? Do you have all 3 of the big mobile anti-malware programs? Let us know in the comments section below.

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    • Tyler

      In the last paragraph, it sounds like the Play Store is the only legitimate market. It makes a confusion between black markets and third party markets.

    • GotoCamera

      Here’s some good news for all your iPad owners! GotoCamera, http://www.gotocamera.com the world’s leading surveillance, monitoring, and security service with over 100,000 customers from over 180 countries, has come out with a free iPad app for their customers. All that one needs to do, is set-up an account with them and hook up a webcam to monitor their home, office or business. Once the account is set-up, you can access your cameras (snapshots and videos), view and manage your camera footage stored on the GotoCamera servers, and change your motion detection settings. The best part about this service? – It’s FREE!

    • Rfmiscmail
    • Annette

      I use Avast. really is an all in one solution. AV, browsing security, and recover stolen phone features.
      can also stop apps from accessing internet in case ur worried about the data they transmit!

    • Jakewoof

      I supposedly had a “lifetime” FREE WaveSecure App, until my phone went wonky and needed to eb repaired. Now even though my user ID and Password and phone number are unchanged WaveSecure wants me to buy the program (of course all of this is after McAfee purchased the original Wave Secure company – so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. But I sure am disappointed in them, you’re an early adopter, you commented on how to improve the product, get it now before we charge – free for life – well maybe not free for life now. So I like to take companies at thier word if they are protecting my data and if they can’t keep their word I wonder how well they will do at keeping my data. So now I’m using Lookout instead.

    • Hahy

      There’s a difference between privacy and security you know…. this should of been called android security.

      • Ned Burgher

        Agreed. I’m sure you’re getting a lot of hits from disappointed people such as myself.

    • Ken

      I installed Lookout. Now it emails me reports which include what contacts I’ve added or changed. I Lookout the answer to security, or the problem? How does monitoring my contact changes and sending them off to lookout servers help me? Don’t like that aspect of it.

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