Does a smartphone need antivirus?

Episode 1385 (15:33)

Jim from Bend, OR

Jim bought a pair of Samsung Galaxy S8 and the guy at the store said he doesn't need an antivirus app to protect it. Is that true? Leo says it is. Mobile phones don't really need that extra precaution, as long as he only gets his apps from Google Play Store. He should be careful what apps he gets, though, even then. Sometimes a junky app does get through. The benefit through Google Play is that if one gets through, they will remotely kill it.

Jim will also want to be sure to get his phone from a reputable company and carrier that won't get in the way of the monthly updates. In general, Leo no longer recommends antivirus because they spread so fast that he could get infected before the update even gets to it. Antivirus just would give him false confidence. It can also make his computer less secure because modern malware can hook into the antivirus and disable it. That doesn't mean he shouldn't have one, but the last, best defense is to guard his online behavior.

Here are some good tips to protect yourself online:

1. Stop running as an administrator. Use it as a limited user instead. Add an account as an administrator and then demote your existing account to limited user. This will stop over 90% of all the exploits out there.
2. Stop using Internet Explorer. Go with Google Chrome. It's free and far more secure.
3. Don't click on links in email.
4. Stop using Java
5. Use a password vault like LastPass
6. Turn on second factor authentication