Updated May 2022
You might have heard that, unlike a PC, Android devices can’t get viruses. While there is some truth to this statement, viruses are only one of the many types of malware that can affect PC and Android devices, including both your smartphone and your Android TV box.
Just like on your PC, if you pick up malware on your Android TV box, you might start to notice it running painfully slowly, you might notice pop-up advertising that you just can’t stop, or you might not notice anything while your device silently leaks your personal data to attackers.
Don’t have personal data on your TV box? Think again. What about your Netflix password? And how exactly do you pay for the subscription?
You may be particularly at risk if you are using Kodi add-ons or torrenting content, as these are even more likely to contain malware than anything you stream on Netflix or any websites you visit.
The good news is that it is super easy to protect yourself. Most of the big-name antivirus providers have created Android antivirus apps that can be downloaded directly from the Google Play Store. Just download them from the Google Play Store to get started.
Of course, not all antivirus protection is created equal. Some offer better, more appropriate, and more affordable protection for Android devices, especially TV boxes, than others.
Narrow your search with our list of the five best antivirus app options for Android, plus our buying guide for when it comes to this type of protection.
Quick Product Links
- AVG Antivirus For Android – Best Overall For Android And Android TV
- Avast Mobile Security – Best To Protect All Your Devices
- BitDefender Antivirus Free – Fastest Protection Service
- McAfee Mobile Security – Best Identity Protection
- Trend Micro Mobile Security & Antivirus – Best Technical Support
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Do Your Android Smartphone And Android TV Box Need Antivirus?
The short answer to this question is yes. We often use the term “virus” to refer to a wide range of malicious programs that can attack your computer, but there are actually many different types of these programs, including ransomware, spyware, adware, worms, and more.
We have not seen (yet) any Android viruses that replicate the way viruses do on PC, so, technically, your Android device won’t get a virus. Your Android smartphone and Android TV box can be infected with all other types of malware just like your PC, though, which can be prevented and removed using antivirus software.
You can be especially vulnerable depending on the programs you are running. An example would be running Kodi or torrenting files. These activities often involve downloading files from insecure sources, which may increase your chance of encountering issues.
Also, don’t forget that your Android TV box is almost certainly set up on your home network, so if your TV box is attacked the infection can spread from your Android TV box to every device on your network, including your PC, and even your smart thermostat and refrigerator. (What hackers might want to do with your fridge I don’t know, but people are imaginative.)
To find out more, read Is Your Device A Target For An Android TV Box Virus?
5 Best Antivirus Programs For Android And Android TV
1. AVG Antivirus For Android – Best Overall For Android And Android TV
AVG has been one of the leading names in online security for more than 25 years. They trade on their reputation, so you can be sure that they are releasing new features all the time, and they keep their protection as up-to-date as possible to fight new threats as they emerge. AVG represents peace of mind.
AVG protection is great for all your devices and has options for every need. They have a free service if you are looking for basic antivirus for things like your mobile phone, up to a comprehensive internet security package that offers full protection for up to 10 devices. This is enough to cover your PC, phone, TV box, router, server, and more.
Plus, their premium internet security doesn’t come with just antivirus protection, but rather a bundle of programs to manage every element of your online security. This includes antivirus protection, their premium VPN service, a suite of privacy tools such as a password vault, and AVG TuneUp, their performance-enhancing software.
We particularly like AVG for Android TV because you can download their Android antivirus app from Google Play easily, and it is back-compatible as far as Android 6.0 (Marshmallow). While your smartphone is unlikely to be running such an old version of the Android OS, TV boxes often run older versions for a variety of reasons, so this antivirus has you covered.
While there is a free, ad-supported version of the Android antivirus application that you could use on your TV box, we highly recommend their paid service. You can protect just your TV box for $3.89 per month (billed annually), or protect up to 10 devices for just $4.99 per month (billed annually). This is an excellent deal for premium protection for all your devices.
- Has a more basic, free ad-supported version
- Compatible with Android TV
- Works on Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) and above
- VPN included as standard in premium version
- Security tools included in the bundle such as password and email protection
- Performance-enhancing tools included
- Payment protection
- Webcam Security
A good antivirus runs in the background without you even knowing, and AVG will do this on your TV box. It will scan apps for risks as they are installed and will perform scheduled scans of your device for risks in general. The Android antivirus app will scan all Wi-Fi networks to ensure they are safe to join.
What you will really notice are all the additional features. There is a VPN that you can activate as needed if you need to control your geographic location or mask your activities. There is behavior shield software that can alert you to suspicious activity on your device. There is also payment protection that will help keep the payment details you use on Netflix and Amazon Prime safe.
If you are looking for the most sophisticated protection for your Android device, AVG is a great choice.
2. Avast Mobile Security – Best To Protect All Your Devices
Avast is another well-respected name in the world of cybersecurity and protects more than 400 million users worldwide. They pride themselves on being a one-stop shop for everything you might need to protect all your internet-enabled devices.
There is a free, ad-supported version of the Android antivirus app if you are looking for just basic protection, but we recommend their Premium Security package to protect up to 10 devices for just $5.79 per month (billed annually).
The service comes with your standard virus, ransomware, and malware blocking, but lots of other features too. It will monitor your apps for suspicious activity, alert you to insecure websites, prevent spies from activating your webcam, block advertising trackers, and let you access their unlimited VPN service.
Avast is another service that is back-compatible with Android as far as Android 5.0 (Lollipop). As we said, some TV boxes might be running this version so this is an important consideration. Just download their Android antivirus app from the Google Play Store and activate your account.
- Free ad-supported software
- Compatible with Android TV back to Android 5.0
- Access to VPN service
- Monitors apps for suspicious behavior
- Blocks data trackers
3. BitDefender Premium Security – Fastest Protection Service
While BitDefender does not enjoy the name recognition of AVG or Avast, they are making a name for themselves by having the fastest service that will result in the lowest impact on the speed of your device.
Their premium service is competitive, currently available for just $69.99 per year to protect up to 10 devices, but you have more basic packages starting from 23.99$ per year. They have Android antivirus apps that are simple to download and install on your TV box, and it is compatible with Android OS as far back as 5.0 (Marshmallow).
They promise a powerful and effective protection service that should result in no slowdown on your devices while it is running. It also uses multi-layer ransomware protection to keep all of your files safe. As part of your package, you get unlimited access to their VPN service and other security features such as a full password manager. There are even parental controls if you are worried about what younger family members are up to.
- Lightweight and does not slow down your device
- New apps are automatically checked
- VPN service is included
- Parental controls are available
4. McAfee Mobile Security Total Protection – Best Identity Protection
McAfee is another service that stands out in the market because it offers a full suite of security and performance-enhancing features in one package. You can get a premium package to defend up to 10 devices for just $49.99 per year.
Naturally, you get protection against viruses, malware, and ransomware, plus firewall protection; however, their bundle also includes a password manager, file shredder, identity monitoring, parental controls, and personal data clean up. Plus you get access to their complete VPN service, and you are covered if your identity is stolen.
McAfee has an app in the Google Play Store that is simple to download and install on your TV box, and it is back-compatible as far as Android 5.0 (Marshmallow). Signing in to the app is simple, and once it is running you can pretty much forget about it and stream in peace. There are also additional benefits if you opt to auto-renew your subscription.
- Premium but affordable security package
- Android app compatible to 5.0
- Access to full VPN service
- Identity theft coverage included
5. Trend Micro Mobile Security & Antivirus – Best Technical Support
Since they have a smaller user base, you can expect to pay more for Trend Micro. Their Premium Security Suite is currently $89.95 per year to protect up to 5 devices. They have an Android app in the Google Play Store compatible as far back as 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich).
As well as providing maximum security against malware and other threats, they back this up with 24/7 support if something does go wrong. This is a standout feature if you know you are likely to need or want support when managing your device.
You get access to their VPN service, which you can set to engage automatically when you are on public Wi-Fi (more applicable for mobile devices). Many advanced features are included in the package, including a password manager, ID security, dark web monitoring, and secure payments and banking.
- Premium suite of security features
- Android App compatible to 4.0
- 24/7 support
- VPN access, automatically activated on public Wi-Fi
- Secure payments and banking
Android And Android TV Antivirus Buying Guide
While these are our top picks for antivirus applications for Android and Android TV, there are lots of others on the market.
How do you determine which are worth the price tag and which are a waste of time and money? Here is our list of the main things you should be considering when choosing antivirus protection for Android or Android TV.
We don’t like the idea of dismissing a product because we haven’t heard of it and not giving new products a chance; however, unless you have quite a bit of technical expertise and can dig into the details of the protocols used by the anti-virus software, we suggest going with a name you have heard of.
The big online security companies such as Avast, Norton, and Kaspersky have a reputation to maintain, and they have teams of people working on updating and dealing with new threats. In some cases, the name does matter.
You don’t want to pay more than you should for your antivirus software, so you should know what the industry standard is.
You can get basic antivirus coverage for Android free, as long as you are willing to put up with some ads. This will, at a minimum, check apps as you download them and do regular scans for issues. Don’t expect additional features such as anti-theft or app password lock for free, though.
For bells and whistles, you’ll need to pay. At the moment, you should expect to pay between $40 and $60 per year. If you are being asked for more than that, you need to consider what extra features you would be getting for your extra dollars.
Android antivirus apps set themselves apart with the extra features they offer, but they are not always as good as they sound.
Many features are designed for mobile devices, such as location services in case of theft, call blocking, and even sending you a photo of who is using your device. While these are great features, they aren’t priorities for protecting an Android TV box.
For Android TV, your priority should be security that doesn’t slow down your device, since 4K streaming can also be a pretty heavy load. A complete VPN service included is also an important feature so that you can keep your activity private and access geofenced content, but remember; unlike other VPN services that have a no-logs policy, these included VPN services are likely to have logs of your data, and certainly of your payment details.
Payment protection is another important feature for a TV VPN. You probably pay for more things electronically than you realize, sharing your content details every time you download a film. While this one-click functionality was created for your convenience, it can expose your payment details so extra security is very welcome.
Operating System Compatibility
Finally, make sure the antivirus is compatible with the Android operating system you plan to use. This is not a problem with most devices, as most antivirus software will work with anything from Android 5.0 and later, but be careful not to choose an option that doesn’t have this back compatibility.
This can be particularly important if you are planning on installing the Android on your Android TV Box, as they tend to run older versions of the operating system.
How Do I Find My Android Device If It Is Stolen?
While many antivirus subscriptions will also offer you the ability to locate and/or erase your device if it is lost as an additional security feature, this is something you can already do if you are using Google.
You can do this as long as your phone is powered on and connected to mobile data or Wi-Fi, is signed into Google, and has Location Services and Find My Device turned on in settings.
Once you have your device set up like this, just go to https://android.com/find and sign onto your Google Account. Choose the device that you want to locate, and it should appear on the map.
From here, you can command your device to play sound on high for five minutes to help you find it. You can also secure the device by adding a password if you don’t have one and put a notification message on the screen.
If the device is irretrievable, you can permanently delete all the data on your device (though not your SD card). This protects your data, but you will no longer be able to track the location of the device.
How Do I Remove A Shadow App From My Android Device?
Sometimes a malicious app will make it on its way to your phone and do annoying things like constantly showing you pop-up advertising. You think that you can just delete the app, but when you search for it in your list of apps it isn’t there. How do you remove this shadow app?
Removing the app will require you to boot your phone in safe mode. How exactly you do that depends on the model of phone, but it usually involves something like holding down the power and the volume up and down buttons at the same time for several seconds.
In this mode, you should be able to see the full administrator list of apps, including the one that has been causing your problems, and delete it. You should also look for other suspicious apps since you often pick up more than one at the same time.
You can then reboot your device normally. If you don’t already have it, this should be a reminder to download antivirus protection that can scan all new downloads for this type of malware and prevent them.
Does A Factory Reset Remove Malware?
A factory reset removes all data and settings from your phone. This means that you lose everything, and while most malware will also be removed there are some pervasive forms of malware that will remain and continue to infect your phone after you repopulate it.
This is why it is often better to use a malware scanning app to identify and remove malware than to perform a factory reset, as they can be more effective and you don’t have to sacrifice your data.
Just like your PC, your Android devices like your smartphone, tablet, or TV box can be infected by malware. Your TV box may be at even greater risk if you are running insecure Kodi add-ons or torrenting content.
Fortunately, most of the big-name security and antivirus companies that you know can protect your PC also make versions of their protection for your Android device. They are incredibly easy to install; just download their dedicated application from the Google Play Store and authenticate your subscription to get started.
While there are some free, ad-supported antivirus options available for Android, you should expect to pay around $40-$60 a year for decent protection.
Do you have any experience using antivirus on Android or Android TV? Share your thoughts below in the comments to support the community.