These free antivirus apps put your phone at risk

You are never 100% safe from cyber attacks, no matter how careful you are. From malware to viruses to breaches, it’s best to take precautions to lower your risk.

You may think it is easy to detect a hacker on your phone. It’s not. The longer a hack goes undetected, the more damage it can do. Tap or click here to learn more about signals that your phone is under attack.

Your first line of defense is an antivirus. While it’s easy to turn to the myriad of free apps you can find online, remember that nothing is truly free. Keep reading to see why free antivirus apps are a bad idea and one solution to protect all your devices.

Follow, not protect

Researchers at Cybernews looked at the top 40 cleaning and antivirus apps in the Google Play Store. Together, these apps have been downloaded nearly a billion times. Yaks!

You would think that the most popular apps are the best options. If so, you’re wrong.

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Here are the three worst offenders by number of trackers:

Nova Security – Virus Cleaner: 30 trackersFancy Booster – Cleaner, Antivirus & Speed ​​Up: 23 trackersAntivirus, Virus Cleaner, Booster – Fancy Security: 23 trackers

Super Antivirus and Virtual Guard were the only apps that were completely free of trackers.

RELATED: Check Your Phone – Antivirus Apps Caught Spreading Banking Malware

Failing the test

Mobile security framework (MobSF) is a mobile app that tests, analyzes and assesses the security level and vulnerability of apps for Android, iOS and Windows. Cybernews compiled a list of apps according to the MobSF security score, ranging from zero to 100.

The three lowest MobSF scores on the list were as follows:

Smart Cleaner: 15Nova Security – Virus Cleaner: 10Safe Security – Antivirus, Booster, Phone Cleaner: 9

The top three MobSF scores were better, but still not great:

Keep Clean Cleaner, Antivirus: 54Fancy Booster – Cleaner, Antivirus & Speed ​​Up: 46Clean Guard Phone Cleaner: 41

High risk

The report finds that six of the apps contain “probably malicious links”, which can be used to steal your private information, banking information and more.

Malicious links have been detected in the following apps:

Dr.Capsule Antivirus, Cleaner: Three Malicious LinksGO Security – Antivirus, AppLock, Booster: Two Malicious LinksVirus Hunter 2021 Virus Scanner and Phone Cleaner: Two Malicious LinksAVC Antivirus & Virus Cleaner: One Malicious LinkFancy Booster – Cleaner, Antivirus & Speed ​​Up : One Malicious LinkPhone Junk – Clean Master: One Malicious Link

Free for a fee

Aside from tracking you, antivirus apps that advertise themselves as free more often than not make up for it in other ways:

The free angle is just an introduction. Do you want better protection? Break your wallet. An antivirus app may not cost you money, but it will cost you privacy when it sells your data. Some free antivirus programs offer little or no protection. more harm than good.

RELATED: Antivirus Isn’t Just For Your Computer — Here’s Why You Should Protect Your Smartphone Too

Remove the violators

If you installed any of the antivirus apps mentioned in the study or others that you got for free, you should uninstall them now. Here’s how:

Open the Google Play Store app. Tap the profile icon at the top right. Tap Manage apps and devices > Manage. Tap the name of the app you want to remove. Tap Delete.

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