Four points to look for in a top virus protection app

Even if you only have an old and/or budget-level phone or tablet, you still need a top virus-protection app, because what you’re really protecting isn’t your device itself, it’s the data that’s on it.  In other words, basically you’re protecting your identity and the identity of any contacts you have stored in your mobile device. With that in mind, here are four points to look for in a top virus-protection app.

Virus Protection App

Make sure its virus definitions are updated regularly

Quite bluntly, any virus-protection app is only as good as its most recent virus definitions.  New viruses are being created all the time and so security companies have to keep updating their virus protection apps to keep up with them.

Make sure that it deals effectively with all malware

Viruses are one, specific, type of malicious software.  The defining characteristic of a virus is that it self-replicates.  This is why one of the most common indicators of a virus is that you have performance issues with your mobile device (and also with computers), basically the virus gobbles up all the resources.  Other common forms of malware include PUPs, adware and spyware.

PUPs are “potentially unwanted programs” (the term is also used for apps) and they can be a challenge for antivirus apps.  Basically, pups are programs which some people may see as adware and other people may see as legitimate programs which just happen to have a high percentage of adverts.  In short, a top virus protection app will be robust enough to alert you to these, but flexible enough to take no for an answer (if that’s your answer) and not continually nag you about them.

Adware is exactly what it sounds like and it can cause all kinds of problems for your mobile device.  First of all, you can almost guarantee that it will hog resources to the point where even premium devices will feel the pain.  Budget devices may well just give up completely. Secondly, adverts may well fill up the screen and refuse to be moved, effectively making the device unusable (remember “full screen” means “full screen” regardless of the size of the device”.  Thirdly, adware increases your vulnerability to malvertising.

Malvertising is basically a strategy which uses adverts to spread viruses.  For the most part, it involves tricking users into clicking on a link although there has been at least one instance of a virus being activated just through being shown on screen (although this was with regular computers not mobile devices).  The basic fact of the matter is that the more adverts you see, the more likely you are to be tricked into clicking on a link, or just accidentally click on one as you’re trying to get rid of the advert.

Spyware is just what it sounds like.  It won’t necessarily disrupt the running of your mobile device.  Spyware is designed to work by stealth, which is why it doesn’t self-replicate in the way regular viruses do.  It may increase your data usage and it may cause your phone to connect to the internet unexpectedly, but those may well be the only signs that it’s there, at least to begin with, until you start getting the letters in the mail about missed payments on loans you never knew you had, or visits from the police about your involvement in criminal activity…

It protects against USSD attacks

USSD stands for Unstructured Supplementary Service Data and it’s basically how phones (and tablets with SIM cards) communicate with the cellular network.  So, on the one hand, this protection only matters if your device has a SIM card, but on the other hand if your device does have a SIM card, then it matters a lot.

In simple terms, USSD attacks aim to exploit vulnerabilities in your network in order to convince your phone that your network is sending it instructions which it clearly has to follow.  These attacks can do anything from forcing a phone to display its IMEI number (basically an identification number) to wiping its data completely to disabling the SIM card (for example as a way to disguise the fact that attackers have taken over your cellphone number through SIMjacking).

It’s backed by a brand you can trust

These days a lot of the “free virus protection apps” out there are actually malware.  You can dodge most of these by making sure that you only ever download apps (of any sort) either from the App Store/Google Play or direct from the websites of established and reputable developers such as Comodo.  In fact, you can head on over to this page right now to download a top virus protection app for your tablet or cellphone!

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