Android antivirus: a guide for SMBs

Android security
98% of mobile malware was focused on Android in 2013

Mobile malware is on the rise. There are currently about 180,000 threats targeting mobile devices, and 110,000 of these have emerged in just the last year. This surge is partly because personal devices are being used in business as part of the 'Bring Your Own Device' (BYOD) trend.

Many of these smartphones and tablets run Android, an operating system that is often cheap, but easy for cyber criminals to compromise due to its flexibility and open nature. Android apps are an easy target too; as Google's Play store doesn't go through the rigorous approval processes of its rivals.

As a result, Android is suffering the threats traditionally seen on desktops, such as mobile botnets, theft of money, and SMS trojans - which send messages silently onto premium rate numbers.

Android is more open than Apple's iOS, Microsoft's Windows and BlackBerry OS, making it by far the biggest target of mobile platforms, according to David Emm, Senior Security Researcher at Kaspersky. In fact, the security firm estimates that 98% of mobile malware was focused on Android in 2013.

Additional software

Because Android is so easy to compromise, mobile devices running the operating system often need additional antivirus software. The industry is capitalising on this: new apps are appearing from the likes of Symantec, Trend Micro, Kaspersky, AVG and MacAfee.

For some small firms, it might be enough to download a consumer antivirus solution onto individual Android devices. Most of these run as an app, protecting other apps and scanning for threats on your Android phones and tablets.

But data must also be protected if a device is lost or stolen. On top of antivirus software, Android requires the ability to remotely access and wipe business information, with many products able to track the device's location too.

So what are the options available for SMBs?


Android antivirus

AVG offers basic Android antivirus for free. It detects, blocks and removes viruses and malware. A new widget allows immediate access to key features of the app directly from your home screen, with the widget's four buttons available to customise through nine different tools.

For enhanced security, AVG's Antivirus Security Pro for Android is £5.69 ($8.99) for a year's subscription and offers the ability to scan apps and lock and wipe your phone remotely.


Android antivirus

McAfee - which is getting a name-change to Intel Security soon - offers Android antivirus as part of a more comprehensive package. LiveSafe costs £48.83 ($79.99) per year and can be downloaded as an app onto your phone. It protects data, identity and all of your devices. Alternatively, you can buy McAfee Mobile Security for £18.31 ($29.99). Antivirus is available within this package, which will protect you against viruses, spyware, worms, trojans and botnets by scanning installed apps, messages and the memory card. It also offers the ability to remotely locate, wipe and lock your device.


Bitdefender's free antivirus uses cloud scanning technology for virus detection, speeding up the scanning process and preventing battery drain. It automatically scans any new apps for viruses, using the same engines as the company's paid for app, Bitdefender Mobile Security. The £6.07 ($9.95) per year paid for app adds real-time scanning of pages you're viewing online, as well as the ability to lock, locate and wipe the device.

Norton by Symantec

Androis antivirus

Norton Mobile Security with antivirus is free for the basic version which protects against loss, malware and viruses. It scans your new apps, as well as the app updates and SD cards for privacy risks, malware and grayware (unwanted software that, while not actually harmful, can affect your device's performance) and you can remotely lock your lost or stolen phone via a text. The premium version of Norton Mobile Security is £18.31 ($29.99) for a one-year subscription.

Trend Micro

Trend Micro's Mobile Security and Antivirus for Android claims to provide 99.9% detection. The free version includes an antivirus scanner, 50MB of cloud storage, privacy scanner for Facebook and a 30-day trial of the premium features. The premium version costs £18.31 ($29.99) per year and includes a 'data theft scanner', which warns you against apps that could potentially steal your information.


Kaspersky's free app has the ability to scan the system, as well as secure and erase data. It is GPS enabled and if someone steals the handset and inserts a SIM card, it can be set up to send a message telling you the number of the person inserting the card.

For added security, paying £9.99($16.36) per user per year gets you integration into Kaspersky's cloud, offering web protection and email scanning. The package also includes privacy protection so you can set limits on what people can see.

The firm also has a multi device product for three to five devices, which might suit a small firm. This can range from Android smartphones through to laptops and Mac PCs. For five devices Kaspersky Small Office Security costs £133.75 ($219.08) per year, going up to £478.80 ($784.27) for 20 devices.