A closer look at the most useful mobile security tools

Modern smartphones are vastly more capable than early PCs. For some people, the phone replaces a desktop or laptop PC altogether. When you consider the quantity of personal information now stored in this pint-sized easily-lost package, security protection is essential.

Given this, and the ever increasing amount of Android malware, it could well be wise to protect your phone from several angles. In this feature, we're going to point out some useful security tools to help keep your mobile safe, and also free from annoyances such as spammers.

Basic security

You need antivirus for your mobile, ideally, even if the biggest threat to a mobile device is loss or theft – which is why so many mobile security suites offer features to locate and recover a lost or stolen phone. Typically they also include the ability to lock the phone and, if the phone can't be recovered, wipe out all private data. So which tools do we recommend for your basic security needs?

Lookout Mobile Security is an excellent product. It boasts quality antivirus, anti-phishing measures, plenty of options in the arena of privacy protection – and locating your phone if it's lost – alongside extra features such as backing up your personal data.

BullGuard is another product we'd recommend, bringing the strength of its excellent desktop antivirus solution to the mobile world with BullGuard Mobile Security. This offers a wide range of features, including an extensive array of anti-theft measures, a spam filter, backup and parental control.

While Lookout does have a free version, you'll pay £20 for the BullGuard product, which understandably might put some folks off. Another good free option worth mentioning is Avast – another big name in the world of gratis security software.

Parental control and monitoring

Another quality offering is PhoneSheriff, which has a very comprehensive set of parental control features. It can block inappropriate websites, set a schedule for when phone use is allowed, block specific apps, and limit access to phone functions. In addition it can block calls and texts to or from specific numbers. It also boasts remote lock and wipe features, and logs just about everything: Calls, texts, photos, websites visited, email correspondents, and more.

Call control

You can't always tell who's calling on a mobile phone, and the calls you don't want to take definitely won't identify themselves. If you want to block unwanted calls and texts, and generally stop spam from affecting your phone, then check out a product called Mr. Number-Block calls, texts. Ignore the rather daft sounding name, as this is a quality app which block calls, and allows you to look up unknown numbers, develop a blacklist for spam, and even report spammers.