Do Smartphones Need Antivirus?

Do Smartphones Need Antivirus?

Bryan Aulds
Updated: 29th May 2020

Image Credit - Pixabay


A lot of the clues that your computer gives you if it’s been hacked or infected with malware can also be applied to mobile devices, smartphones to be exact. But some signs of malware presence in a smartphone can be subtle and often overlooked.

Is your smartphone susceptible to being hacked or infected with malware? How can you tell if your mobile device has been compromised?

Do you need antivirus for your smartphone?

I will get right to the heart of this blog title, does your smartphone need an antivirus? No, would be my answer to that question, although if you live in a region outside of the US, Canada, Oceania, and most of Europe, I would suggest getting some kind of anti-malware for your smartphone.

You think computer viruses are a thing of the past? Think again, more than 5,000 virus variations are created each month

If you live in the United States and are a heavy internet user who frequents websites that are not well known, unsafe, or, how do I put this, adult in nature (not me, I swear), then I would recommend using Malwarebytes to do periodic scans of your phone for malware.

The software will not scan for virus but it doesn’t need to, not on a smartphone and especially not on an iPhone.

There really is no antivirus or anti-malware for smartphones mainly because they are significantly safer to use than a laptop or PC. Downloading software on a computer is a different process for a smartphone, especially with relation to security protocols.

You can pretty much download anything you want on a Windows OS but that’s typically not the case when it comes to your Android or iOS device.

Android and Apple have app stores that require stringent background checks and verification for vendors who want to feature their app on the app store. Regular security scans for malware and harmful files are performed on all applications featured.

>> Protect 3 devices for only $38.81 a year with them most trusted anti-malware software — Malwarebytes

It is estimated that about 5% of all the smart-phones in the world currently in use have some form of malware embedded in its hardware or software.

That number seems relatively low but when you take into account there are roughly 2.5 billion users of smartphones in the entire world today, that five percent comes out to 125 million mobile devices! That is a lot. The population of Russia is a little under 140 million people, just think about that.

Those numbers are much higher for countries in the Middle East, Asia, and Eastern Europe. In the United State, almost 1% of all smartphones have malware embedded in them. With an estimated 220 million active smartphone users in the US, that 1% comes out to 2.2 million smartphones, or the population of Houston, TX.


Not surprisingly, of the 1% of all infected phones, 92% are Android. This is primarily due to the Play Store having less restrictions on which app it lets into its app store, iOS of course is much more restrictive.

There are more than 3.5 million apps on the Google Play Store, Apple’s app store carries about 2.4 million. The second biggest reason that iPhones are safer is that Android smartphones are cheaper (some, not all) and more popular than iPhones around the world.

This means it’s more convenient for hackers to create malicious malware that gets embedded into applications for Android with greater opportunity to impact more users faster.

Signs Of Malware

Some of the signs that your smartphone may have malware include noticeably shortened battery life, changes to the look of your mobile browser, multiple applications cease operation, significant slow-down in processing speed, increase in data usage, frequent dropped calls, many pop-up ads, and files or programs that get deleted without your consent.

If your smartphone contracted malware and you live in the Unites States, hats off to you, you’re now part of the 1%.

>> Cover up to six device for under $3.00 per month — CyberGhost VPN

Although not full-proof, you may be able to recover your device by removing all applications you’re able to uninstall, basically everything but the bloatware, and doing a full system reset. The effectiveness of this process depends on the severity of infection.

Instead of worrying about malware, mobile users need to worry more about their online activities, accounts, and passwords. Since smartphones are the most popular means of accessing the internet worldwide, it is just as important to secure your mobile network as it is your desktop.

The most secure method you can use for safe and anonymous browsing is through a virtual private network, or VPN. I myself use NordVPN. If you’re a VPN’s novice, I suggest you go with TunnelBear, they also provide a free version of their product as does CyberGhost VPN.

Not all VPN vendors offer free trial service but most offer full refunds within 7-30 days of purchase. A VPN helps you stay anonymous while browsing the internet by tunneling all your internet data through several encryption protocols via a direct connection. If you often use open WiFi hot-spots or you’re a frequent traveler, it’s paramount you use a VPN anytime you’re online.

A hacker can easily see what you’re doing on your laptop or smartphone if you’re accessing an open WiFi hotspot by pin-pointing your IP address and penetrating your network.

>> NordVPN offers the most servers world-wide with 5,224 — Get VPN

A VPN will mask and disguise your IP address and make it seem like you are logged in from another city or country. No one would be able to detect your network location and real IP address; your true IP address will only be known by you and your internet service provider (ISP).

At the very least, you should never log on to any of your accounts that require passwords on an open WiFi hotspot without a VPN connection. This is especially true for banking and retail websites.

Best Practice

To truly stay secure, anonymous, and malware free with your smartphone, my best strategy is to always be connected to a VPN and do periodic malware scans using anti-malware software.

If you’re not a heavy internet user then you can probably skip the Malwarebytes, especially if you’re using an iPhone. I would still recommend keeping a VPN connection at all times, no matter what you’re doing.

One more tip: do not use mobile apps for online retail shopping on websites like Amazon, eBay, or PayPal, you should go directly to the website. Making monetary transactions using mobile applications are not as safe as going directly to the merchant’s website.

An app is basically a scaled-down version of the actual website made to run faster but is also less secure.

About the Author:
Bryan Aulds

Bryan is a founder of and Billfodl. He is also 1/4th of the Unhashed podcast. In his spare time, he's flying an airplane or a helicopter. Follow him on twitter.