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The different types of antivirus software for Android™ can be divided into two general categories based primarily on complexity and feature sets. Simple antivirus applications make up one of the main categories. This type of antivirus software for Android™ offers a no frills solution to dealing with malware, adware and other malicious code that can be encountered on the operating system (OS). The other type of antivirus software for Android™ comes in the form of security suites. These apps include basic virus protection in addition to a variety of other related features, such as data backups, task killers and even the option to locate a lost handset.
Android™ is an open source operating system that was introduced in 2007. The first malicious program designed to exploit the mobile OS was discovered in 2010, and took the form of a Trojan hidden in downloadable applications that appeared to be legitimate. Once installed, this first Android™ Trojan was able to send text messages without the owner of a phone realizing it. A number of antivirus programs and security suites were designed to counter these threats. The original Trojan appeared in apps that were obtained from the Android™ market, though it is also possible to be exposed to malware through other sources.
The first type of antivirus software for Android™ takes the form of single-purpose apps. These antivirus programs are designed to scan newly downloaded apps for malicious code, though some can also monitor software that has already been installed. If any malicious code is detected, this type of antivirus software is typically capable of alerting the user, locking down the malware and preventing it from accessing any critical resources or private information. Another function that some basic antivirus apps have is the ability to monitor any data that is written to the secure digital (SD) card, which is another way to detect illicit activity.
In addition to standalone programs, other types of antivirus software for Android™ include larger security suites. These apps are typically able to perform all of the same tasks that a basic antivirus program can, but they add extra functionality. An app killer is one tool that can allow a user to manually disable any application that is behaving suspiciously or using too many system resources. Many of these suites also include some type of data backup functionality, which is able to copy all of the contact information, pictures, video and other information from a handset to a remote server. If a Trojan ends up corrupting any of the data, or the handset is stolen, it is then a simple matter of restoring from the backups.
Sadly, malware and viruses are becoming a problem for Android devices much as they have been a problem for computers running Microsoft Windows. One of the disadvantages of keeping Android more open than Apple iOS is that it is much easier to make programs available that contain bad things than it is to sneak that stuff on Apple mobile devices.
Like it or not, the need for virus and malware scanners for Android devices is increasing.
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