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McAfee Mobile Security Review

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PROS / McAfee Mobile Security detected 100 percent of more than 2,000 malicious apps it was subjected to by AV Test, a respected independent test lab.

CONS / It doesn’t really have parental controls. You can’t observe a child’s phone behavior. However, McAfee Mobile Security lets you build profiles that control who has access to specific apps.

 VERDICT / McAfee Mobile Security protects effectively without consuming mobile phone resources. Help and support are available 24/7 via online chat, telephone or email.

There are now more than a billion Android devices on Earth. With that much data floating around, there are bound to be people looking to exploit it. A vast underground ecosystem of hacker affiliates concentrates on harvesting smartphone data for profit. It sounds like science fiction, but it isn't. Without mobile phone virus protection, you are at risk. To regain control over your privacy, you could install McAfee Mobile Security, which wins our Top Ten Reviews Gold Award in the best antivirus for mobile category. In the course of rounding up mobile security and antivirus apps to review, McAfee’s mobile antivirus soon emerged as a winner in each of the evaluation categories: protection, features and usability. Let’s elaborate one by one.


One of the security industry’s most respected independent software test labs, AV Test, tested dozens of mobile virus protection apps in March 2014. The testers used the most current version of McAfee’s antivirus mobile security, configured to default settings and permitted to update itself at any time and to query McAfee’s in-the-cloud services. When McAfee Mobile Security was subjected to the 2,266 malicious apps that AV Test had captured in its honey pots during the four weeks prior to the test, McAfee discovered every one of them and asked for more. McAfee’s 100 percent protection score easily topped the 95.3 percent average score for all of the tested mobile virus protection apps.

 McAfee’s antivirus software for mobile blocks phishing sites and prevents browser exploits. It also scans for malware in apps, files and memory cards according to a schedule or on demand. Although it doesn’t scan email for threats, McAfee can detect malware in SMS and multimedia messages. Malware embedded in QR codes are a particularly insidious attack vector. (QR codes, or Quick Response codes, are bar codes that you read from a smartphone to access information.) McAfee Mobile Security protects smartphones from these QR code exploits that try to erase the device data or reset it to default factory settings after gaining acceptance via a malicious QR code.

Another important way in which McAfee’s mobile antivirus protects is by monitoring for threats whenever you are connected to an unsecured Wi-Fi network. There is a method that network snoopers use to observe your web activity. It is called Address Resolution Protocol snooping, and if it happens to your phone, McAfee disconnects the phone from the network and informs you.


We must rave about the completeness of the McAfee feature list, especially its anti-theft capabilities. Because it has data backup, if your phone ever goes bye-bye, your contacts, SMS messages, call logs, pics and vids are not lost. If you simply misplace your phone somewhere under the pillows, you can go online and make it sound an alarm like a lost lamb bleating for its mommy. But if someone steals it or robs you, you have many ways to minimize the damage potential. For example, you could send a remote factory reset that deletes everything and resets the phone to its brand-new state. You could also send a command from a website or via SMS that wipes the phone clean of data. Even if you do nothing, when the thief changes the SIM, your phone will automatically lock. Furthermore, during the time that your phone is out of your control, you can track its location continuously on a map and make it take silent snapshots of its abductor, which it emails to you. If someone enters incorrect PINs, the phone takes a picture of the person and emails it to you along with its location. As if these antitheft features were not enough, just before your phone completely runs out of battery, it sends you its last location.

Privacy is also a strong consideration in the feature set. You can’t observe what children do with the phone, but by setting up multiple user profiles, you can control which apps to make available to children or guests. You can also protect all apps by enforcing PIN access. And as McAfee’s cloud-based intelligence learns of apps that betray privacy, it shares the information with you so you can uninstall the offenders. A final point about McAfee’s privacy is that you can block anyone whose calls or messages are unwelcome.


The usability of an Android mobile antivirus app has much to do with its effect on your phone and whether it ever confuses a legitimate app with a dangerous one. The mobile antivirus software test results from AV Test show that it never confused a safe app for a malicious one even after the installation of 841 legitimate apps from the Google Play Store and 489 legitimate apps from third-party Android app stores. Usability tests also found that McAfee does not generate too much traffic, does not slow down the device during normal usage and never shortens battery life.

Help & Support

Help and support are available 24/7 via live chat, telephone or email.


Unless you require extensive parental controls, consider McAfee Mobile Security if you want the best antivirus for mobile app. Independent test labs report that McAfee is superb at protection against malware and malicious links. It does not consume too many device resources. And if you should ever find yourself separated from your mobile, you will have many ways to recover without falling victim to identity theft.