August 15, 2011, 10:25 AM — Worried by the spate of news stories about malware targeting Android phones and tablets? There's a way to get some peace of mind: Symantec's just-released Norton Mobile Security, which promises the same type of security for Android devices that its big brother counterpart offers for PCs. (The app was previously available as a beta.)
Norton Mobile Security comes in free and for-pay versions. The free version (which Symantec labels Lite) includes an anti-malware module and an anti-theft module that lets you remotely lock an Android device if it's lost or stolen.
The malware scan is simple and straightforward. You can scan manually or have Norton scan on a daily, weekly or monthly schedule. You can also scan your SD card -- an option that's turned off by default because it may slow down your system during the scanning operation. On my Droid X, it took 15 seconds to scan normally, and one minute and 56 seconds to scan the SD card as well -- not, in my opinion, a significant difference, and a small price to pay for more complete protection.
The anti-theft lock of the free version is simple to set up. You create a password, and if you lose your phone or if it's stolen, you just send a text message to it from any phone with the word "lock" followed by your password. The phone will then be locked and can only be unlocked when your password is entered.
For an annual fee of $29.99, you get a variety of additional features, including anti-phishing capabilities and the ability to remotely locate and wipe data from your device, remotely lock your device's SD card (as opposed to just the data in the phone itself) and block SMS messages and phone calls. (Note: In order to get the for-pay version, you have to first download the Lite version from the Android Market and then pay to upgrade.)
Remotely wiping your device, locking the SD card and remotely locating your device in the for-pay version all work like the remote lock version in the free version. You send a text message to the device with a command (for example, "locate," followed by the password) and the app does your command.