Mobile devices have become quite advanced, featuring a fully-fledged operating system that’s as functional as its desktop counterparts, and in some respects even more. And as with anything in the tech world that grows popular, we’ve seen a rise in interest in smartphones and tablets from various attackers. It makes sense – people rely on these devices quite heavily these days, storing a lot of sensitive information on them.

Having your phone hacked can be a devastating experience, but some apps can protect you against that. Antivirus and VPN solutions are quite common on the market these days, and it’s important to understand the differences between them, and what situations call for their use.

What Does an Antivirus Do?

An antivirus acts as an extra safety check when downloading and running new apps. This can include both apps in the official store, as well as ones you download and install yourself (which are more prone to security risks). A good antivirus will stop many threats and will isolate the programs from your operating system before they can do any damage, but it’s not a universal solution.

That’s because attackers keep coming out with new viruses all the time, and it can be challenging to keep track of them all. Even though many antivirus developers try their best, they sometimes miss newly released viruses and can’t provide updates for them in time.

What Does a VPN Do?

A VPN, on the other hand, is meant to make your connections more secure by tunneling them through an additional point. This has multiple benefits, one of the major ones being privacy. A VPN can allow you to mask the traffic through your connection, preventing anyone from snooping on it and figuring out what you’re doing. This can be useful for people living under controlled conditions, as well as those concerned about their private details leaking.

It can also allow you to trick sites and services into “thinking” that you’re actually located in a different country. This is often useful when trying to circumvent regional restrictions for content providers, such as gaming services and video streaming sites. Netflix users are among the most active users of VPN services, especially those who like traveling.

Secure from All Angles

A VPN and an antivirus both improve the security of your device use, but in entirely different ways. One is meant to keep you safe from malicious apps that might try to compromise you and your information, while the other is aimed at those who want to browse safely and without any annoying interruptions.

It’s not a good idea to treat this comparison as a competition, as they don’t overlap in functionality too much. But some people will undoubtedly see more use in a good antivirus than a VPN and vice versa. Understanding your own habits and knowing your weaknesses are important factors in making the right choice. If you’re not sure, you might want to start with the full package and look into both a good antivirus and a good VPN.

Do You Need Both?

As mentioned earlier, some people will find one type of application more useful than the other. There are also cases where it’s a good idea to run both. A device you primarily use for work is a good example, although it’s likely that your employer already requires you to run some protection on that machine anyway.

If you don’t feel like you need both though, there’s no need to overspend. If you don’t frequently download and run new apps from a variety of sources, you might find an antivirus to be a waste of money. If you often find yourself connecting your Android phone to unknown networks, you should consider investing in a VPN. This goes a long way towards securing your connection against anyone that might be trying to listen in and capture your passwords, which happens more often than you might expect.

You don’t need to be a tech expert to make proper use of a VPN and an antivirus, but you shouldn’t blindly trust them to keep you safe in your daily browsing either. A large number of people intentionally circumvent the restrictions and warnings imposed on them by their own security tools, just because they’re sure that the game they torrented is free of any viruses. This is where most security incidents happen, and it’s rarely a fault of the actual tools.


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