Share on Facebook

A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

11 Mobile Apps for Security and Privacy

With data breaches on the rise, it's more important than ever to safeguard the treasure trove of personal information that your phone can reveal about you. A security app can help.

Every editorial product is independently selected, though we may be compensated or receive an affiliate commission if you buy something through our links. Ratings and prices are accurate and items are in stock as of time of publication.

Four featured Mobile Apps For Security And Privacyvia merchant (4)

Protect your privacy with a security app

You know who’s getting better at what they do? Cybercriminals. Data breaches reached an all-time high in 2021, rising 68 percent over the previous year, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center. Describing the online security breaches as “highly sophisticated” and “complex,” the organization’s president called for more aggressive defenses and urged the public to practice better cyber hygiene. Enter the security app.

From password apps that come up with (and remember!) the strongest combinations, to apps that protect your security when you’re using public Wi-Fi and those that offer two-factor authentication, here’s what to download to put a virtual fortress around your devices. You’ll never again need to use that written passwords list or frantically google “how to tell if my computer has been hacked.” Keep reading to find out which security apps the experts highly recommend for your smartphone. Bonus: Many are available for your other electronic devices too.

Do I need a security app on my phone?

A security app isn’t 100 percent necessary, but if you want to keep your data and other personal information private, you probably want one.

Think of a security app like the lock on your front door. You can live there without it, and there’s a chance you’ll never be robbed. But a simple little lock can go a long way toward protecting you, should someone try to break in and steal your valuables.

So while you can certainly use your favorite electronic devices without security apps, if you want to avoid being hacked, downloading spyware, or having your personal info sold by data brokers, you probably want to invest in a security app (or a few). “Apple and Google build in basic protections for security and privacy, but there are third-party apps that offer a stronger defense in certain areas,” says Robert D’Ovidio, PhD, an associate professor in the Department of Criminology and Justice Studies at Drexel University in Philadelphia.

Considering you may not know if your phone has been hacked or whether someone is spying on your iPhone, installing a privacy and security app is a smart move.

Lastpass Mobile Apps For Security And Privacyvia merchant

LastPass

Available on: iOS and Android

Cost: Free to download; monthly subscriptions range from no charge to $4

Good passwords are hard to come up with on your own. Cybersecurity experts suggest using a different random password for every online account you have. But how on earth will you keep everything straight? “I personally use the password manager LastPass,” says Adam Aviv, PhD, associate professor of computer science at The George Washington University in Washington, DC. Not only does this security app randomly generate secure passwords—no more using the names of your kids—but it also remembers them for you and automatically fills them into the password field when you try to log in to an account. It’s available for mobile and computer use, so you’ll never need to hit the “I forgot my password” button again.

Download Now

1Password Mobile Apps For Security And Privacyvia merchant

1Password

Available on: iOS and Android

Cost: Free to download; monthly subscriptions start at $3

Like LastPass, the password manager 1Password is a favorite of cybersecurity experts. Use it to generate strong passwords, autofill passwords when logging in to your accounts, and store passwords on all your devices. Although it doesn’t offer a free version, the mobile 1Password app is easier to set up and use than the mobile LastPass app, according to cybersecurity website CyberNews. It also offers more storage space to protect sensitive photos—like a snap of your driver’s license. Once you’ve set up 1Password on your phone, check out these iPhone privacy settings.

Download Now

Signal Private Messenger Mobile Apps For Security And Privacyvia merchant

Signal Private Messenger

Available on: iOS and Android

Cost: Free to download

Worried that someone is snooping on your texts? Leery about sending sensitive info—about finances or health, for example—via text? Secure messaging apps like Signal convert text into a form that only the sender and recipient can read. “For encrypted messaging, Signal is great,” says Aviv. Download it to send secure text messages, photos, and voice messages, or to make calls and video calls.

Download on iOS

Download on Android

NordVPN Mobile Apps For Security And Privacyvia merchant

NordVPN

Available on: iOS and Android

Cost: Starts at $3.99 per month

Getting your work done in a cute coffee bar sounds like the dream, but it does pose an extra security threat compared with your own home or office network. Hackers have a lot of ways to steal data from public Wi-Fi hot spots. “If you have to spend money on an app, the first place to spend it is a VPN service,” says D’Ovidio.

Short for “virtual private networks,” VPNs essentially supply an encrypted tunnel for your data by hiding your IP address on public networks. With NordVPN, you can connect up to six devices in one account. Another reason to drop cash on this security app? Google tracks you online, and most websites use cookies to track you too. But a VPN makes it much harder for them to follow you around the Internet.

Download Now

ExpressVPN Mobile Apps For Security And Privacyvia merchant

ExpressVPN

Available on: iOS and Android

Cost: Starts at $8.32 per month

Another VPN provider highly recommended by experts, ExpressVPN costs a bit more than other options but generally supplies a faster connection. This security app also has the edge for a feature called split tunneling, allowing users to choose which apps use VPN and which access the Internet directly. For example, you might want to stream Ozark from Netflix as usual but have ExpressVPN provide the connection for your work email or for Safari as you browse the Internet anonymously. The app works on all devices, from your smartphone and computer to your smart TV.

Download Now

Safe Me Mobile Apps For Security And Privacyvia merchant

SAFE Me

Available on: iOS and Android

Cost: Free

Like the name suggests, this security app keeps your device safe. It tells you how safe your device is—and gives you specific, easy-to-follow suggestions for improvements. It uses your configuration settings and other factors to assign your phone a numerical security rating. For instance, if you have notifications enabled on the lock screen, your device will rate lower. The app also reports security breaches that may have compromised your password. It clearly explains what to do in these cases and provides free training videos on a variety of security topics. Speaking of taking action to secure your device: Here’s how to remove spyware from an iPhone.

Download on iOS

Download on Android

AT&T ActiveArmour Mobile Apps For Security And Privacyvia merchant

AT&T ActiveArmor

Available on: iOS and Android

Cost: Free to $4 monthly

Available to anyone with AT&T wireless or prepaid service, the no-charge version of this app automatically blocks fraud calls, sends unknown callers to voicemail, and alerts you about data breaches. For an extra fee, you receive protection on public Wi-Fi and alerts if your personal info is leaked. You can also enter any U.S. phone number to receive info about the caller. That’ll help you avoid falling prey to a spoofing call.

Download on iOS

Download on Android

Google Authenticator Mobile Apps For Security And Privacyvia merchant

Google Authenticator

Available on: iOS and Android

Cost: Free

Even a strong password doesn’t supply all the security you need. Two-factor authentication (2FA) gives you an extra layer of protection. “It relies on something you know—your password—and something you have, like your cell,” says D’Ovidio. For instance, after you enter your password, you may receive a text with a code that you need to enter for access. This security app takes that protection to the next level. It scans QR codes on participating websites to create two-factor authorization codes within the app, so you don’t need to have them texted to you. You’ll want to set up 2FA for all your accounts—it’ll help you avoid getting hacked on Instagram, Facebook, and other social media sites.

Download on iOS

Download on Android

McAfee Total Protection Mobile Apps For Security And Privacyvia merchant

McAfee Total Protection

Available on: iOS and Android

Cost: Starts at $35 per year

A VPN and antivirus app all rolled into one, McAfee is a one-stop security shop available for your smartphone, tablet, and computer. Advanced plans offer identity monitoring and identity theft insurance coverage. You’ll also receive a “protection score” to see how safe you are online and alerts if a company experiences a data breach and leaks your information.

Download Now

Norton 360 Mobile Apps For Security And Privacyvia merchant

Norton 360

Available on: iOS and Android

Cost: Starts at $15 annually

Depending on the plan you opt for, this app can provide secure VPN and antivirus protection for up to five devices. It also monitors the dark web—the Internet underground world where confidential info is bought and sold—to make sure your passwords, social security number, and other keys to your identity haven’t leaked. That’s important because hackers can do a whole lot with just your email address.

Download on iOS

Download on Android

Bitdefender Mobile Security Mobile Apps For Security And Privacyvia merchant

Bitdefender Mobile Security

Available on: iOS and Android

Cost: $15 annually

Keep your personal information secure and avoid malware and tricky phishing websites with this do-it-all security app. Bitdefender includes a VPN, protects your passwords and other personal information, filters traffic from other apps to stop your data from being exposed, and more. And it does all that without draining your battery. Don’t want to pay $15 a year for this hard-core security? Android users can download Bitdefender Antivirus Free (at no cost, naturally) to get pared-down offerings that include malware protection and scans to ensure your device stays secure.

Download on iOS

Download on Android

Sources:

  • Identity Theft Resource Center: “Identity Theft Resource Center’s 2021 Annual Data Breach Report Sets New Record for Number of Compromises”
  • Robert D’Ovidio, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Criminology and Justice Studies at Drexel University
  • Adam Aviv, PhD, associate professor of computer science at The George Washington University
  • CyberNews: “1Password vs. LastPass”

Karen Cicero
Karen is a seasoned journalist who specializes in food, travel, home, and new product coverage. She has visited almost every state (look out, Alaska, she's coming for you next!). A mom who goes overboard for all the holidays, she lives in the Christmas city itself—Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.