8 must-have Android security apps

A DIY guide to securing Android-based devices

While Android is a terrific operating system in many ways, it does pose some real risks for IT departments. Last week's revelation that Google had to remove around 50 malware-infected applications from its Android Market highlighted the downside of the company's "free love" approach to publishing applications where it will let anyone put their app on the market and will only take it down if alerted by a third-party user. The upside of this, of course, is that the market also offers a wide variety of quality security applications that can protect you from malicious apps. Here are eight Android applications that can help IT departments keep a better hold on employees' Android-based devices.

While Android is a terrific operating system in many ways, it does pose some real risks for IT departments. Last week's revelation that Google had to remove around 50 malware-infected applications from its Android Market and had activated an Android app kill switch highlighted the downside of the company's "free love" approach to publishing applications where it will let anyone put their app on the market and will only take it down if alerted by a third-party user. The upside of this, of course, is that the market also offers a wide variety of quality security applications that can protect you from malicious apps. Here are eight Android applications that can help IT departments keep a better hold on employees' Android-based devices.

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App: McAfee WaveSecure

Developer: McAfee

Price: Free

McAfee's WaveSecure app doesn't have any of the virus scans or firewall protection that the company is famous for, but it does have some important features such as the ability to remotely lock your phone and to wipe key data from it, the ability to back up and restore wiped data after a device has been secured, and the ability to track and map your device using GPS.

App: mSecure - Password Manager

Developer: MSeven Software

Price: $4.99

This app specializes in encrypting and storing important information and passwords, including bank account numbers, Social Security numbers, e-mail log-in passwords and more. The app utilizes 256-bit Blowfish encryption and has a password protection "hint" feature that asks you questions to help remember passwords. Additionally, the app features an automatic password generator that will help you create strong, secure passwords for new or existing accounts.

App: DroidDream Killer

Developer: Chris Ravenscroft

Price: Free

Here's a quickie solution if your Android device has been hit with the DroidDream malware. Essentially, the app acts as a "stop file" that instructs the DroidDream malware to not infect your device. Developer Chris Ravenscroft cautions that while he's been successful in using this application so far, "there is no guarantee that this particular piece of malware or another one will not change their behavior and start ignoring this file." So far the app has received glowing reviews from users, as it has received an average five-star rating on the Android Market. Even so, this should be seen as a quick patch and not a comprehensive security solution.

App: AppScan Beta

Developer: Aegislab

Price: Free

While DroidDream Killer is designed to help you deal with malware after it's already been installed, Aegislab's AppScan Beta is designed to stop you from ever downloading it in the first place. The application scans other apps on the Android Market and identifies any spyware or malware they may have on them by flagging them as "suspicious." It can also scan apps for any unwanted advertisements.

App: Antivirus Free

Developer: Creative Apps

Price: Free

This is a popular antivirus application that has been downloaded more than 500,000 times and has received an average rating of four-and-a-half stars from more than 12,000 users on the Android Market. It scans applications that you've already installed onto your device and cross checks them with its own reference database of known malicious applications. Essentially, it's good for detecting malicious applications that AppScan let slip through its fingers.

App: Titanium Backup PRO Key

Developer: Matrixrewriter

Price: $6.16

While mSecure Password Manager specializes in saving key financial and personal data, Titanium Backup aims to back up data for just about every application you have. You'll also be able to use this app for encryption, batch verification and application freezing. There's even an experimental "Bloatware Melter" that's designed to cut down programs that take up for too much space and memory.

App: Remote RDP Enterprise

Developer: Yongtao Wang

Price: $19.88

Here's a nifty remote desktop application for IT pros who want to troubleshoot company computers remotely through their Android smartphone or tablet. Features include bidirectional audio, TLS (SSL) encryption, support session auto-reconnect, zoom buttons, and mouse support. Developer Yongtao Wang says the application is optimal for tablets that have an external mouse and keyboard attached.

App: Advanced Task Killer

Developer: ReChild

Price: Free

This final application isn't really a security app per se, but it's certainly something IT departments will want people using company smartphones and tablets to have since it will help them save both memory and battery life on their devices. This way fewer people will send you trouble tickets reporting poor device performance because they've unknowingly left "Angry Birds" running for three straight weeks.

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