We now regularly hear about data breaches, ransomware and cyberattacks from businesses large and small including many well-known names. These issues are only going to get worse because there are large financial gains to be made by bad actors. This is so lucrative that in the criminal underground of the dark web, there are even job postings that pay up to $20K per month, with paid time off and sick leave. As this article from Forbes mentions, Cybercrime is expected to cost the world economy about $10.5 trillion annually by 2025.
Cybersecurity is becoming more of an important factor in staying safe today because individuals like you and me are being targeted much more frequently! From phishing scams, ransomware attacks, Fake Ad campaigns, social engineering to malware attacks, criminals are getting more sophisticated and finding new and creative ways to trick anyone to give up their credentials, send bitcoins, gift cards or install malicious apps on their devices and more. Recent attempts include placing malicious Google Ads that impersonate real websites that are used to steal your credentials. The list goes on and on and is unfortunately growing everyday.
So, what can you do? Don’t wait until something bad happens because it will mean a lot more work for you to clean up. As the saying by Benjamin Franklin goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Security should also be applied in a layered approach. In addition to staying aware of the current cyberthreats, installing an antivirus app on all your devices is another great step to take. In this video, I want to show you a Free antivirus app you can get for your mobile devices that is certified with a good rating and has many great features.
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Sophos Intercept X for Mobile
If you don’t have an antivirus or antimalware solution for your mobile device today, I highly suggest you buy a reputable one or at the very least use a good free solution like this. I’ve tried many free antivirus solutions before and a lot of them behave the same. You get a free trial with full features for a certain number of days, but after that the functionality is limited and the usefulness of the app is reduced significantly. For example, once the trial period is over, scans for malware only happen when you initiate it manually versus happening automatically in the background.
Not so with Sophos Intercept X for mobile. It’s compatible with Android and iOS and has a good feature set that is free to use without an expiry date and without any Ads, which is a bonus. It has been tested and certified by the AV-Test institute, which is an independent research institute for IT security that’s based out of Germany. They have been in existence for over 15 years and are referenced by many reputed Tech websites from PC magazine, Tom’s Guide to Tech Radar and more. I encourage you to checkout their site as there is a lot of good information there.
Sophos Intercept X for mobile has a pretty good rating by AV-Test. Though it doesn’t have a perfect score like a lot of the paid solutions, again, note that it is FREE! It is able to detect over 99% of Android malware and also protects you against them in real time. These scores are also above the industry average too. Find links to the full review of Sophos Intercept X and all other tested antivirus apps plus a link to download Sophos Intercept X further below.
As with any app you install, make sure that you only download the genuine apps from the Google Play store or the Apple App store so that you don’t install a fake version that could be malware. If you plan on installing Intercept X, please like our video and share it with someone else to bring awareness to cybersecurity.
Who is Sophos? Sophos is an IT security company that provides advanced products and services to protect against cyberthreats from malware, exploits to phishing and more. They have solutions for home users, small and large businesses to governments and more.
Next, let us take a quick look at all the features of Sophos Intercept X for mobile.
The feature set can be broken down into 4 sections. Device security, Network security, App security and 5 Security tools.
Under Device security the app provides a Summary of the health status of your device. It checks certain settings and features on your device and provides recommendations on those that are unsafe. You can read the provided information to learn more and correct them to improve your security. Some of them will even link you to the appropriate settings page so you don’t have to search for it.
If you need more information on any of the features I show, just find the Help icon on the top right and click on it for additional info.
Some common settings that are checked include having USB debugging turned off to make it harder to hack your device, not allowing apps from unknown sources, which is where a lot of malware apps come from and having NFC or Bluetooth turned off by default.
This part of the app provides 3 features that are very useful. Web filtering, Link checker and Wi-Fi security.
Network security – Web Filtering
Web filtering will protect your online browsing through a web browser. Basically, when you use a protected browser, Intercept X will check the site before it is opened. You can customize it to ‘Block”, “Warn” or “Allow” specific categories of content.
If you want to test the setting out for yourself without actually visiting a malicious website, you can use their test site which is pretty cool for testing and knowing what you will see when you encounter an undesirable site. Go to the Help page to find the test site.
If you choose to “Block”, then you won’t have a way to enter the site. Choosing to “Warn” gives you the option to proceed or block.
Network security – Link Checker
Whenever you click on a link from a non-browser app, for example, in your email or text message, the link checker can check the link before passing it on to your selected browser. Note that you will need to make sure to follow the instructions for proper setup and will need to be aware that some apps open links internally, which would bypass this check so make sure to disable those apps from doing that.
One thing you can do to test this in your email app is to go to the Sophos test site and copy the whole text on the page. Create a new email and paste this text in there and send it to yourself. Then open the email and try to click on the links to the sites that should give a warning or be blocked. You should get the appropriate response. Note that this doesn’t fully test all your other apps so you will have to be aware and configure those apps accordingly.
Network security – Wi-Fi Security
Enable this to check your Wi-Fi connection for specific types of network-based threats. You can find out more in the help section on the specific types of threats it can detect.
You can manually check the current Wi-Fi connection or just have it background check automatically every time your device connects to a Wi-Fi access point.
This is the part of the app that most people will associate with traditional antivirus apps. It is the feature that scans the internal storage, SD cards and connected USB devices for threats. It detects malicious apps and files like malware, potentially unwanted apps (PUAs) and low reputation apps.
You can also evaluate them and determine why they were flagged, where they were installed from, what permissions they have and choose to uninstall them.
It will check the app against the latest up-to-date threat data from SophosLabs.
Apps are scanned automatically when installed or copied on to the device, plus the tool can be configured to run a full scan on a schedule or manually started.
5 Security Tools
It’s nice that Sophos Intercept X for mobile also provides five additional security tools that are useful. Sometimes you need these kinds of tools but they don’t come with your device as an included app so you are left looking for and installing one that you can trust. There are often many apps to choose from but how do you know if it can be trusted? Even the Google play and Apple app stores are plagued with malicious apps that sneak by their security checks. This is also another reason why you actually do need a good antivirus app for your devices even if you only install apps from the official app stores.
Security Tools – Authenticator
If you have any websites you use that offer Multi-factor authentication then, you really should consider configuring the website to use it. This means that a stolen password won’t be enough for a bad actor to gain access to these sites of yours. Before you can login, it will require you to get a code from authenticator apps like this that you enter into the site after you entered your password.
Security Tools – Password Safe (KeePass)
If you want to use an offline password manager, then a good option is to use KeePass. It is open-source and is quite secure in encrypting your credentials and sensitive information. Intercept X has the capability to create a KeePass password safe file or open an existing one.
Just make sure to use a long and good master password you can remember.
Security Tools – QR Code scanner
Having a built-in QR code scanner you can rely on is a good idea if you scan QR codes at all. Some QR codes are malicious and can contain malicious links or content. This QR Code scanner will check the links appropriately to keep you safe.
Security Tools – App protection
The App protection is a good feature to have enabled. This effectively allows you to require authentication at the app level, for any app you choose. So even if anyone gets access to your device, they would still need to authenticate to use certain apps.
Recently, criminals are also watching people enter their passcode on their phone then grabbing it from them. The criminals can then unlock the phone to have full access to the victim’s accounts. They can take then over the Apple ID or Google accounts, drain bank accounts, steal identities and more. Having app protection to protect your important apps can help make it more difficult for the criminals. To do this, you can for example, use a different passcode than your login passcode on your phone. Therefore, even if they were able to steal your phone from you, they would still need to know the second passcode to access apps like banking, settings, emails, the app store and more.
Note that there are certain limitations to this feature as mentioned when you enable it. The feature isn’t foolproof but it is still good to have. There is also a feature to create a recovery password so use it if you need it.
Configure any of your installed apps to require this additional authentication like your banking apps, online store apps, email, calendar and more. The added benefit of this tool is that by default, it also requires the Sophos Intercept X settings and Android Settings to require the authentication for added security. I would also make sure to enable the Google play store and other installers setting too. This adds a layer of security to prevent someone from easily installing apps on your devices without your knowledge.
Security Tools – Privacy advisor
The privacy advisor lists all the apps installed on your device to easily let you see what permissions they have or have not been given. This is great for you to see at a glance, which apps are asking for a lot of permissions. You can sort and filter the list and also see the history.
In the history you can find out when a new app was installed and see where it was installed from. This can be useful to know if any new apps were installed without your knowledge. From here you can change the permissions, uninstall it and also check the dangerous permissions and low-risk permissions that have or haven’t been granted.
You can also see when an apps permission has changed or was updated and if permissions have changed with the update.
Note that for quick access, the Authenticator, Password safe and QR Code scanner tools can easily be accessed by long pressing the Sophos icon like so.
The take away
While Sophos Intercept X for mobile is quite a good app for something that is free, it isn’t necessarily the most user-friendly app to setup. There are some permissions that need to be granted in order for it to do its job properly. Because this can be confusing, you may need help from a tech savvy friend or family member to help you get it properly installed and configured. But once installed, you won’t need to set it again and will be better protected.
I hope I have shown you how good a free security app Sophos Intercept X for mobile is. The ever-evolving cyberthreats that we all are faced with today is not going away. It is only getting worse by the day. Please protect yourself by installing a good and official antivirus app today to start protecting yourself and your devices. If you would rather go for a paid solution, there are many out there as you can see on the AV-Test website. We also use Bitdefender as a paid antivirus solution for several of our other mobile devices and computers, and can say that it is also another good option.
As with most things in the world, no single solution is going to be a silver bullet to take down all cyberthreats. So, keep informed and continue to use tools like Sophos Intercept X for mobile to protect yourself and your loved ones from the cyberthreats out there.
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Additional Sophos resources
References / Sources
Bleeping Computer. <Latest Data Breach news (bleepingcomputer.com)>
Bill Toulas – Bleeping Computer. <Cybercrime job ads on the dark web pay up to $20k per month (bleepingcomputer.com)>
Emma McGowan – Avast. <2023: 3 major cybersecurity predictions for the new year (avast.com)>
Bernard Marr – Forbes. <Cyber Apocalypse 2023: Is The World Heading For A ‘Catastrophic’ Event? (forbes.com)>
Ionut Ilascu – Bleeping Computer. <Hackers push malware via Google search ads for VLC, 7-Zip, CCleaner (bleepingcomputer.com)>
Paul Ducklin – Naked Security. <Beware rogue 2FA apps in App Store and Google Play – don’t get hacked! – Naked Security (sophos.com)>
Nathan Collier – Malwarebytes LABS. <Malware on the Google Play store leads to harmful phishing sites (malwarebytes.com)>
Christina Darby – ZDNet. <Stop using your 4-digit iPhone passcode in public. Do this instead | ZDNET>
AV-Test Institute. <Test antivirus software for Android – January 2023 | AV-TEST>