These days, most of us are well aware of the need to protect our computers from viruses, Trojans and other forms of malware using anti-virus software. We know the importance of downloading and installing this software, and we know we should keep it up to date. Some of us probably still don’t realise that effective, and most importantly, genuine anti-virus software is available online to download for free. But how many of us are doing the same to protect our tablets and smartphones?

Limiting exposure

Mobile security software isn’t quite the enigma many still consider it to be; and with rumours that there will be nearly 15 billion network connections via mobile devices by 2015, there’s no time to waste. The responsibility to protect personally owned devices lies with the individual, who shouldn’t be fooled into thinking their employer’s BYOD (bring your own device) scheme will take care of virus protection for them. BYOD is great, but using your personal device to access company email, calendars and contacts will usually be capabilities enabled by one app, leaving the rest of the data stored on the device exposed.

Additional risk frontiers

The realms of possibility for infection surpass the risks encountered by using a traditional computer; smartphones and tablets are vulnerable to corrupt applications and SMS and MMS Trojans in addition to malicious links, software and rogue Wi-Fi hotspots. The trouble is that installing anti-virus software sounds more difficult than it is, and the risk of downloading a rogue app is always in the back of your mind. However, we know we must act to defend against known threats. The likes of Trojans and worms are known to have been contained within legitimate apps, and we also know we’re likely to have to pay for the consequences when we receive our next bill.

The only exception

Help is at hand, and all the major platforms are covered including Android, BlackBerry, Symbian and Microsoft Windows Mobile – with the exception of Apple OS. The lack of availability of mobile security software for the iPhone and iPad indicates the platform is possibly the most secure, however the recent Apple Mac Trojan suggests the OS isn’t infallible. Existing programs available to Apple users offer protection in the form of remote wipe capabilities and allow you to track lost or stolen devices, greatly increasing the likelihood of their recovery.

Try before you buy

Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as a free lunch, and whilst free software is available, it’s unlikely to offer the level of protection required to ensure your devices remain virus free. Reputable providers such as Kaspersky, McAfee and Trend Micro among many others offer free trials, which are well worth a go before investing in the right software for your individual needs.