In an age of privacy and data concerns, protecting your smart device is more important than ever.
But in trying to do so, the free antivirus apps you download could result in doing more harm than good.
The antivirus apps have been described as “potentially dangerous” due to the permissions that they request from users.
According to a report from VPN service, VPN Pro, the apps are asking users to allow a huge number of dangerous permissions that appear unnecessary.
VPN Pro writes, “For example, by giving Virus Cleaner permission to upload files to your system, you could be allowing it to add more malware to your device that you’ll have to pay to remove.”
Included in the list of permissions requested were these four “high risk” permissions:
- Record audio, which would allow the app to record audio and allows them the use of the device’s microphone
- Call phone, which lets the app make a phone call directly from the app, without requiring the user to confirm the call
- Camera, which allows the app access to your device’s camera
- Access Fine Location, which lets the app determine your precise location but using GPS, mobile cell data, wifi or a combination of all three
The permissions requested also included six “medium risk” permissions and one “low risk” permission.
“Even though these apps have been found guilty of these malicious activities in the past, they’re still available on Google Play and amassing millions of install every month,” added VPN Pro.
Full list of apps to uninstall
VPN Pro lists the following free antivirus apps as requesting dangerous permissions:
- Security Master
- Virus Cleaner
- Antivirus Free 2019
- 360 Security
- Virus Cleaner 2019
- Super Phone Cleaner
- 360 Security Lite
- Super Cleaner
- Clean Master
- Super Security
- Antivirus Free
- Antivirus Android
- Antivirus & Virus Cleaner
- Antivirus Mobile
What to consider when downloading an app
When it comes to installing an app on your device, VPN Pro advises the following:
- Ask yourself, do you really need an antivirus app? Generally, the answer is no, unless your installing unofficial apps or not updating your other apps on your phone
- Check and see if the app is from a reputable developer. If it’s not, you might want to consider an alternative app from a well known brand
- Analyse whether the app really needs the dangerous permissions it’s asking for – usually, they don’t. But occasionally, denying certain permissions prevents the app from working, and it’s at that point where you should reconsider whether this is the app you want to download
This article originally appeared on our sister site Edinburgh Evening News