If this has ever happened to you, you know what a nightmare it can be. Although there are some good Samaritans in the world, more than likely they’re not going to be the ones who would steal your mobile device.
So what can you do to minimize the effects of a stolen smartphone? You can start by installing some form of security for your device. With all of the mobile apps readily available for use (and many for free), there’s really no excuse for not giving your phone ample protection. Even for apps that aren’t free, it’s worth paying that small fee in order to give your smartphone and the details it contain the security it needs.
Let’s take a look at some of the best tools available for protecting your smartphone.
Our Top 10
Lookout Mobile SecurityLookout is a free app that protects your iOS or Android device around the clock from mobile threats such as unsecure WiFi networks, malicious apps, fraudulent links, etc. You can also use it to backup your contacts by scheduling automatic backups and then accessing the information online, or using it to restore your device in case of a crash or data loss.
If you lose your phone, Lookout can locate it on a Google map – even if the GPS is off. It will also activate a loud alarm – even if your phone is on silent.
Want more features like remote locking, safe browsing, phishing protection, privacy scans and app reports? You can upgrade to Lookout Premium for $2.99/month or $29.99/year.
Snap Secure Mobile SecuritySnap Secure will securely and automatically back up your data to your online account so that you can access it, restore or transfer data to a new device if needed. It comes with anti-virus and anti-spyware protection, and will scan all of your new applications for malware.
It also includes a call-blocking feature that lets you block calls from unknown or unshown numbers. You can even block unwanted emails on your BlackBerry device, and block unwanted SMS messages on Android devices.
The Privacy Manager can also let you know how apps are using your personal information, and it has an anti-theft and location tracker which will help you catch the thief who took your phone. Best of all, it has a unique feature called the Personal Guardian. This is a panic button for the user to silently send out an email, SMS message, or tweet along with your location in case of an emergency.
Snap Secure is available for iOS, Android, and BlackBerry devices. There are both free and Pro versions. Most of the better features are only available with a Pro account, but you’ll get a 30-day free trial of Snap Secure Pro with the free version. The Pro version is $3.99/month or $17.99/year.
BullGuard Mobile Security 10With BullGuard you get an online account that lets you remotely access your smartphone, along with a Mobile Security Manager that works with your device’s GPS. If you lose your device, you can lock it remotely and wipe it clean.
It also includes a Parental Control module so that you can keep your kids protected without having direct access to the phone. It includes anti-virus and anti-spyware, firewall, spam filter, backup/restore feature for contacts, and SIM card protection.
BullGuard is available for Android, Symbian OS, Windows Mobile, and BlackBerry, and is available at the cost of $29.95/year.
iHound Phone and Family TrackingiHound is great for families and includes various tracking tools, yet it is also a great tool for protecting your device. iHound can use your phone’s GPS to track your device and report its location. It includes an alarm that can be set off via a push notification and heard even when the device is silent. If you use this on an Android device, you can also remotely wipe your data and lock your device.
iHound can also protect you with the unique geofencing feature that automatically checks you in on Facebook or Twitter when you arrive at your destination.
iHound is currently free in the iPhone App Store and includes 3 months of service. After this, you can extend your subscription for 3 months ($3.99), 6 months ($5.99), 12 months ($10.99), or 24 months ($19.99). If you’re on an Android, it’s only $3.99/year after a 7-day free trial.
McAfee WaveSecureMcAfee has also created an excellent mobile security application for iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Symbian OS, Windows phone, and Java. It includes all of the same features as the rest: remote wiping and locking; backup and restoring of data; and location and SIM tracking. With WaveSecure, not only can you backup your contacts, but you can also backup photos and videos.
Also, the tracking feature does not only track the current location, but plots several locations on a map so you can see the vicinity of your device. This feature works even if your GPS has been turned off.
McAfee WaveSecure is available for all devices at $19.99/year.
Kaspersky Mobile Security 9Kaspersky Mobile offers many features, but includes the most features for Symbian and Windows mobile devices. These features include: anti-theft, anti-virus, anti-spam, privacy protection, data encryption, parental controls, and firewall protection. The phone tracking feature shows your device on a Google map and provides coordinates.
One of the unique features it has is the ability to wipe your device clean even if the SIM card has been replaced. The Private mode feature is also useful because you can completely hide incoming calls and SMS messages manually, automatically, or remotely. So if your device is stolen or someone is trying to hack into your phone around, the joke is on them because they won’t be able to access that data.
Kaspersky Mobile is currently on sale for $9.95/year (regular $29.95) or $29.95/2 years (regular $59.90). If you want to try before buying, there is a 7-day free trial.
F-Secure Mobile SecurityIf you’re using an Android, Symbian, or Windows mobile device, you may want to try out F-Secure. It offers the basics such as protection against viruses and malware, parental controls, safe browsing, identity protection, location tracking, and call/SMS blocking.
There is currently a 30-day free trial of the Mobile Security service after which it’s $3.50/month or $39.50/year. If you prefer something totally free, you can download the always free Anti-Theft app, which protects the data in your phone if it is lost or stolen. The app will help you locate your device and let you wipe out the data contained and lock it remotely.
Norton Mobile Security LiteHere we have Norton, another well-known anti-virus provider. Norton Mobile is unfortunately only available for Android devices. It protects you against unauthorized access, viruses, malware, phishing, and theft. If your device is stolen, you will be able to locate it, wipe the data within, and lock it remotely.
Even when you’re browsing the Web, you’re being protected with a privacy guard. If your device is compromised, it will detect and eliminate the threat. All apps will also be scanned to make sure they’re not malicious. Calls and SMS messages can be blocked as well.
Norton Mobile Security Lite is free in the Android Marketplace. Norton also offers the Mobile Utilities and Task Killer, Snap QR Code Reader, and Anti-Theft plug-ins all for free.
A very similar Android-only mobile security app you might like is by Trend Micro. It offers all of the same features as Norton Mobile and comes with a 30-day free trial, after which it’s $17.99/year.
I’ll throw AVG for Android in here as well. Along with all of the same features, it also helps to enhance the performance of your device by identifying applications that may be slowing it down. AVG for Android is also free.
Avast! Mobile SecurityAvast! Mobile is yet another Android-only application, but I wanted to address it in more detail because of the many features it offers – all for free. When compared to the other free and paid mobile security options, Avast! delivers the same features and more.
It has real-time protection, customizable updates, privacy reports, a Web shield, call and SMS message filtering, a firewall and application manager. If your device is stolen, you can do everything except access or restore your contacts – because it doesn’t include a backup feature. Yet, you can locate your device and wipe or lock it remotely, set off an alarm, and even receive a notification if your SIM card is changed.
Now for the more: The App Disguiser is a unique feature that lets you choose custom names for your apps so that if your device is stolen, it will be harder for thieves to find the apps containing your personal data.
Another great feature is called “Stealth Mode”. Once the anti-theft feature has been enabled on your device, the Avast! app icon will be hidden so that the thief can’t detect it; they’ll never even know that they’re being tracked.
GadgetTrakLastly we have GadgetTrack, an app only for iOS devices that not only tracks your stolen device, but takes a snapshot of the thief! If your device doesn’t have a camera, you can still use it to create tracking reports with and give you coordinates for your missing device.
While you’ll get better location-tracking with the GPS on, it’s not required. You can also lock the settings on the device so that the thief can’t change them. Plus there’s a “Deleting Apps” restriction that you can enable so that the thief cannot delete any of your apps – including GadgetTrack.
GadgetTrack is available in the App Store for $3.99.
Bonus: 2 more..
VirusBarrieriOS users, if you’re looking for something only for your device, check out VirusBarrier. This app is $2.99 and can be used to scan email attachments and other files as needed. It checks for spyware, trojans, adware, hacker tools, dialers, keyloggers, and more. VirusBarrier even works with remote services like DropBox, iDisk, and WebDAV.
Due to the limitations of iOS, this app cannot automatically scan files or schedule automatic scans; this is probably the reason why most of the abovementioned apps are mainly for Android.
Webroot SecureWebHere we go, iOS users, an application that you can use too! Webroot SecureWeb is available for iOS and Android, and mainly focuses on securing your Web browsing experience. On the iOS app you can browse using the integrated and secure tabbed browser and safe search feature, which identifies phishing and malicious websites. There are no anti-theft features included, unlike the Android version.
For Android there is both a free and Pro version (for $9.99/year – regular $19.99/year). In the free version you get secure browsing along with an anti-virus, location tracking, alarm, call and SMS message blocking, and remote locking. The PRO version has all of the above plus SIM card locking, remote wiping, and app scanning.