Will you ever need antivirus software for your smartphone or tablet? In the case of the Android platform, it’s very much a judgment call. Although there is malware to be found in the Android ecosystem, whether antivirus prevents it getting on to your system is open to debate. And a much greater risk is that the user may allow criminals access to their Android phone or Android tablet, either by installing dodgy software, or simply allowing their device to be stolen and hacked.
The best mobile security products acknowledge this by building in anti-theft capabilities to prevent crime and help you recover the gadget if it is stole. They also add in data-protection tools that allow you to brick and wipe your phone or tablet in the event of theft, and web security to keep the unwary surfer appraised of any dangerous waters they are drifting in to. Bitdefender Mobile Security includes all of these tools.
Malware Scanner is the antivirus, Web Security the safer surfing tool. Then there are a plethora of anti-theft and data-protection capabilities under the aegis of ‘Anti-Theft’, as well as Application Audit, that checks on the trustworthiness of apps, and Event Viewer – a prosaic function that allows you to see what Bitdefender is up to.
As with other Android security apps, you install Bitdefender Mobile Security Premium on your device for free, but after a short free trial must then buy a license from Bitdefender Antivirus to upgrade to Premium. The free version of BitDefender Mobile Security lacks Anti-Theft and Web Safety, and as such we’d say is unlikely to be worth the install, at this time. See also: Best Android Apps
Bitdefender Mobile Security Premium: antivirus scanner
On first opening BitDefender Mobile Security it asked us to do a full scan. This took around 28 seconds on our much used Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and – surprise, surprise – found no malware. Properly testing Android malware scanners is notoriously difficult, and there is a lot of smoke and mirrors out there.
But according to a test carried out in February 2012 by respected independent anti-malware testing agency AV-Test.org, BitDefender ranks 10th out of 41 Android antivirus tools tested, finding more than 65 percent of malware on scan. It’s not an amazing result, but to be entirely fair, BitDefender found most or all malware in all families of malware apart from one – jifake. In context, that means you’d be very unlucky if Android malware got your tablet or smartphone while you had BitDefender running.
Web Security is switched on by default. The uses the Bitdefender Cloud services to alert you about webpages that contain malware, phishing or fraudulent content, as you hop about the web. It worked well in our tests, and BitDefender’s database certainly has sufficient people in it to make the results meaningful. As with all such services, however, beware false positives.
Application Audit is useful as a reference point, and makes use of one of the stronger aspects of Android. This aspect of Bitdefender Mobile Security for Android shows you in graphical form each application’s permission requirements. You can drill down to see which apps are allowed to access the internet or sensitive data, or those that can rack up your phone bill by sending text messages or making calls. Click on an app in this window and you can see a host of information about it.
So Web Security and Application Audit are useful but not crucial, and Event View is pretty standard. Let’s move over swiftly to Anti-Theft. Ultimately, given the decent but not outstanding AV performance, it’s these features that decide whether BitDefender Mobile Security Premium is worth the $9.95 fee.
The good news is the ability to remotely locate, lock, wipe or send a message to your Android device are both comprehensive and easy to use. So in our view, BitDefender Mobile Security Premium for Android is one of the better Android security apps. You have to go to My.Bitdefender.com and allow BitDefender admin rights to your device, but these are pretty standard. You have to trust somebody, as the song says, and it may as well be a reputable AV firm like BitDefender.
BitDefender Mobile Security Premium for Android offers decent antivirus protection and some nice features with – most importantly – easy to use and comprehensive anti-theft and data-protection tools. If you are in the market for Android security software, this is a bargain buy.