The Best Security Apps

by Sandra Henshaw - , Last Updated on November 13, 2016, App Guides

Mobile security should be a priority for everyone. For those of us with mobile banking, security is a no brainer, but even email accounts, social media and shopping accounts should be secure. And that’s not to mention the apps that you might want to keep away from your kids, or maybe even your spouse or nosey friends. There are thousands of security apps on the market, but if you’re searching around then you’ll find that a lot of these are anti virus apps. Those are great for some people, but aren’t exactly what we’re looking at today. We’re looking at those apps that can help give you privacy, security, and even the comfort of knowing that your kids won’t be able to send an email from your account.

Security Basics

Even before we get to actual apps, if mobile security is important to you then there are a couple of basic things that you really need to do. You really do need a password lock on your phone screen, which you can access through the settings, security, then screen lock menus. You should also have “install from unknown sources” disabled on your phone too, which will stop rogue apps from stealing your data (under settings, applications, then unknown sources). Done that? Then here are the best apps for you to consider for your security.

Android Device Manager/Apple Find My iPhone

This is our first line of defence, and if you’re lucky you already have one of these apps (obviously, Android Device Manager is for Android fans, whilst the other is for iOS users). These apps are both free, though you’ll find other paid version in your respective app stores, but the basic version is fine. What these apps do is allow you to track your phone on a web browser, so you can find it if lost or stolen, but they also let you erase data remotely, just in case your phone is in the wrong hands. The kicker? You MUST make sure that these apps are enabled first (and download them to your phone if you don’t happen to already have them). Just go to the web page for the app you need and follow the instructions to register your mobile.

AppLock

AppLock is a personal favourite, and is extremely useful. Download the app, open it up and set up a passcode. You’ll then be presented with a list of all the apps on your phone and can choose which will be locked with the passcode that you’ve chosen. Once you’re set up, you’ll need to enter your passcode any time you open one of your protected apps. This is great for preventing friends spying on your gallery pictures, but is even more useful for stopping kids getting into apps that you don’t want them to use. Best of all, it’s completely free.

Private Browser Apps

We’ve actually got two different internet browser apps that are great for security, depending on what your needs are. The first of these is DuckDuckGo Search which is great if you’d like a little privacy. Unlike other large search engines, DuckDuckGo Seach doesn’t track your browsing history at all, so you’ll leave no trace of what you’ve been doing online.

Our second browser pick is called Ghostery Browser, and this is a little different. You use this in the same way you’d use any other browser, but unlike other browsers Ghostery tells you immediately every time you open a page who is tracking you and allows you to disable tracking if you wish. This is a good option for those that like a little flexibility, you might not mind your news searches being monitored, but might object to your shopping habits being tracked. Both Ghostery Browser and DuckDuckGo Search are free.

Signal Private Messenger

If you’re concerned about the privacy of your messages, then Signal Private Messenger is for you. This free app encrypts messages so that only you and the person you’re writing to can read them, and it supports group chat as well. The only downside to Signal is that both parties have to have the app downloaded in order for it to work. But as long as you can persuade your friends to get it too, Signal Private Messenger does exactly what it says on the box.

TunnelBear VPN

Having a VPN (virtual private network) used to be important only for those looking to illegal download or torrent materials. More recently, VPNs have been used to bypass country restrictions for websites like Netflix. A VPN basically hides your IP address so that no one knows where your data signal is coming from. But on a mobile a VPN also means that using public WiFi is far safer. If you frequently use WiFi hotspots when you’re out and about, then TunnelBear VPN is a must download. The free version gets you 500 MB of protected internet browsing a month, and you can pay to add more data should you need it.

NoRoot Firewall

Using a firewall is fairly standard on a computer these days, but not so much on a mobile. However, NoRoot Firewall is a fantastic app if you’re worried about internet security. The app shows you which other apps and services on your phone are requesting internet access and allows you to modify those settings. So you might want to give your Amazon app internet access, but not your Candy Crush. As well as protecting your privacy, this is also good for preventing things like kids making accidental in game purchases with certain apps. And it’s free too!

LastPass

Finally, there’s LastPass. This is essentially a password manager app that allows you to store all your passwords in one place so that you don’t need to remember them (you will need to remember your LastPass password though). The app also creates super strong passwords for you, and can be used to store certain files that you’d rather keep secret and hidden (encrypted, of course). For serious security hounds, LastPass is a fantastic app. It’s free for the basic version, but you’ll need to pay a monthly fee to add certain services such as additional storage.