But all of our top three picks go a step beyond with extras that can protect your Android device from unsecured Wi-Fi connections, and some offer additional bells and whistles like call blocking and VPN protection.
Best Anti-malware and Antivirus for Android
Best Antivirus for Android
- : Best Android security
- : Best cross-platform coverage
- : Best for budgets
Compare the top anti-malware and antivirus apps for Android
First year price
Price after first year
|Best anti-phishing protection||$29.99||$59.99/yr.||10|
|Best for budgets||$19.99||$59.99/yr.||10|
Info current as of post date. Offers and availability subject to change.
1. Bitdefender Total Security: Best overall
Bitdefender earns kudos as one of the most well-rounded security suites available. The Total Security bundle excels at Android protection and offers anti-theft features for Windows devices that can be surprisingly helpful if your laptop gets stolen. Thoughtful extras like one-click and startup optimizers keep your devices running smoothly and prevent the slowdown that plagues other security software.
As with most premium versions, you’ll pay a little extra for the luxury of securing all your devices from malicious apps and websites, but the versatility and quality Bitdefender offers is worth it with one caveat. Its Achilles heel is glaringly inadequate iOS protection, so steer clear if securing an iPhone with sensitive data is one of the five devices you plan to protect with Bitdefender.
2. McAfee AntiVirus Plus: Best anti-phishing protection
Everyone likes a bargain, but not if it means compromising on the security of your smartphone. McAfee strikes the right balance in its AntiVirus Plus with an extensive menu of features that sends malicious malware packing but also has an affordable price that covers up to 10 devices.
This security suite does a particularly good job of addressing phishing and has recently beefed up the ransomware protection. Many of the antivirus software products we’ve recommended do offer an app lock, but McAfee also offers a kid mode that will delight parents by locking down the entire phone with the exception of approved apps.
If you’re concerned that all this sounds too good to be true, there are some downsides to McAfee. Mac users get minimal security included in this suite and iOS systems are completely shut out of the premium features party.
3. Norton Security Premium: Best for budgets
If you’re looking for the full menu of features that antivirus protection software can provide, Norton Security Premium is going to tick all the boxes for you. In addition to a vigorous firewall and scans that are adept at catching malicious viruses and malware, Norton Premium has a wide array of security components for all your devices and across platforms.
This security suite is one of the few that manages to sneak in extras like dark web monitoring, parental controls, and webcam security, making it well priced compared to other products.
Be aware, though, that all these impressive features may cause some moderate lag on your device, especially when you first power up. And, as you might expect, Norton Premium comes with a slightly larger price tag that reflects those extra features. Figure in what you might shell out for a monthly password manager subscription and the cost of covering up to 10 devices, and you'll realize Norton Security Premium adds up to a terrific bargain.
Learn more in our full Norton Antivirus review.
Anti-malware and antivirus protection are a must, but with so many of us using new platforms like Zoom or online learning portals, it's important to add extra reinforcements.
Check the privacy settings of every device, app, software package, and platform you and your kids are using.
Safeguard your camera. Disable access to the camera as appropriate in specific apps, and cover it with tape or a sticker when not in use.
Update everything. Firmware and software updates are annoying, but they're the first line of defense. Most of them include security patches to new threats. Check all of your devices and programs to make sure the latest updates have been installed.
These are just a few measures that offer extra protection at this time. Find more tips in our complete guide to keeping your computer safe while working from home.
How to choose antivirus and antimalware apps for Android
Decide which of your devices require additional protection and prioritize the most critical. For example, if you have only an Android tablet, the best antivirus and malware protection for a Mac may not be relevant to you. But if you do a great deal of work on your laptop in coffee shops, casually surfing the internet, you may want to look for robust unsecured Wi-Fi warnings and anti-theft features for your Windows device.
Effectiveness of anti-malware and antivirus protection
All antivirus software goes through rigorous testing, and you should be able to find each product’s score via independent testing agencies. Look for the percentage of sites blocked, number of viruses identified, ratings on usability, and additional information about the kinds of malware the product was most effective at detecting.
If your home PC is the extent of your relationship with the internet, anti-theft protections might seem silly. But for the majority of internet users, risk comes primarily through mobile devices that expose the increasing amounts of personal data we keep on our smartphones. Anti-theft protections like remote lock or snapping a picture of the thief can not only prevent the costly loss of your latest generation Android but also keep your private information out of the wrong hands.
The usefulness of some of the features included with these security suites is going to depend on your risk of exposure and online behaviors. For instance, an antivirus product with webcam protections is going to be a priority if you often have remote meetings. But if your exposure to the internet on your mobile device is almost entirely limited to online shopping, you might be better off paying attention to cybersecurity tips than paying for anything with a VPN attached to it.
Anti-malware app FAQ
You might hear the two terms lumped together, but they aren't interchangeable. A virus is a piece of code that has adapted to copying itself and can infect your device, while malware covers a whole host of specific types of malicious software like Trojans, worms, spyware, and ransomware. Another critical difference between the two is that viruses are usually known threats that have been weaponized by cybercriminals to exploit data or for online scams, whereas malware uses newer, more experimental infiltration techniques that may be difficult to detect.
In a word, yes. Because Android operates off of Google’s open-source platform, these devices are especially susceptible to attack. You should also consider the increasing amount of information your smartphone now has access to, from your credit card number to a litany of passwords. All of that information could quickly get into the wrong hands either through theft or the wrong click on a spammy website.
Security protections can bog down your speed and cause a drain on your battery, so look for lean software that specifically includes optimization programs. These scans help you manage bulky programs or apps by identifying which ones are sucking up your battery juice and your bandwidth so you can delete what you don’t use or block it from running in the background.
How we picked the best anti-malware apps for your Android
In addition to scouring the internet for reviews from actual customers and ratings from consumer agencies, we also carefully considered testing results on protection and usability from independent software collectives like AV-Comparatives. See more about our methodology to find out how we ranked the products on this list.