Short on time? Here’s the best security app for tablets:
- 🥇Norton: Excellent virus protection for iOS, Android, and Windows tablets. It uses artificial intelligence to detect all types of malware, identifies malicious apps before download, blocks phishing sites across all browsers, has an excellent Wi-Fi scanner, and comes with extras like a VPN, parental controls, dark web monitoring, and lots more.
I tested every antivirus and internet security app on the market — I wanted to find the ones that provide the perfect balance between security, cost, and ease of use for iOS, Android, and Windows tablets in 2021.
It wasn’t easy. Many of the apps I tested were slow and buggy, failing to catch both malware and deceptive downloads. I even came across some apps which were actually data-stealing malware in disguise!
Since iOS, Android, and Windows all have very different vulnerabilities, I wasn’t too surprised that a lot of cybersecurity brands provided decent protection for only one operating system and were really bad at protecting the others.
However, I did manage to find 5 apps that were able to protect my tablets from a wide range of potential online dangers and keep me safe online, with features such as:
- Malware scanning.
- Anti-phishing protection.
- Wi-Fi security.
- VPN (virtual private network).
I ranked each app on security, features, intuitiveness, and overall value. All of the products on this list are good at detecting and removing all types of malware, work across all operating systems, are easy to use, and offer a good value.
Quick summary of the best security apps for tablets in 2021:
How I Rated the Best Security Apps for Tablets in 2021
- Malware protection — Depending on the operating system, tablets can be vulnerable to either malware or deceptive apps, or both. I tested each app’s malware scanner against a range of malware, including viruses, trojans, ransomware, spyware, and rootkits. I also tested each program’s app scanner to see if they could detect unsafe software in a variety of app stores.
- Security features — A lot of security apps claim to provide amazing additional features which are actually really bad. I tested additional features like anti-phishing protections, Wi-Fi scanners, and VPNs to ensure that they functioned as advertised.
- Ease of use — I used every single feature of each app to make sure they were easy to access, understand, and use. I gave points for intuitive, well-designed, and helpful programs that provided useful instructions.
- Value — I looked at the amount of useful security tools provided by each app, then compared each app to its competitors to determine which products offer the best value to the user.
Top Brands That Didn’t Make the Cut:
- Cylance — Cylance uses artificial intelligence to catch all types of malware, including zero-day threats that don’t show up in typical malware databases. Unfortunately, Cylance didn’t run smoothly on my Android tablet, and I was also disappointed to see that it lacked most of the advanced features I expect to see in a premium antivirus.
- BullGuard — Bullguard is a really good antivirus, and it detected all of my malware samples on my Android and Windows tablets. However, BullGuard doesn’t have an iOS app, so I simply couldn’t include it on this list.
- Avast/AVG — Avast and AVG were recently involved in a data theft scandal, so we no longer recommend these programs on our site. You can read more about the scandal here.
🥇1. Norton — Best Security App for Tablets in 2021
Norton provides the most comprehensive internet security protections for iOS, Android, and Windows tablets in 2021. During my tests, I was really impressed with Norton’s AI-based anti-malware scanner — it blocked every piece of test malware I placed on my devices, including advanced viruses, ransomware, and spyware that a lot of the competitors missed.
I also love Norton’s advanced app scanner which identifies malicious apps from popular app stores before you download them to your devices — something very few antiviruses offer!
Another thing I really like about Norton is that it rates apps from the Google Play Store and the App Store based on the amount of personal data they’re allowed to share, the number of ads they display, and how much background data they use.
Along with advanced malware and app scanning, Norton also offers an excellent Wi-Fi scanner which identifies unsafe public Wi-Fi networks, preventing hackers from accessing your tablet and stealing your information.
And Norton also has some of the best anti-phishing protections around — I tested this feature against a database of malicious and fraudulent sites, and Norton blocked every single fake site that I visited on a wide range of browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and Safari.
Norton Mobile Security offers affordable coverage for up to 3 iOS and Android devices. However, Windows users will want to check out Norton’s 360 plans which run on Windows tablets just like they do on PCs — providing all of the features listed above, along with extras like a VPN, dark web monitoring, parental controls, identity theft protection (US-based users only), and a lot more.
Norton provides top-notch internet security apps for all tablets. Norton’s malware engine and app scanner caught every virus, suspicious app, and potential spyware and ransomware file in my testing. Norton also comes with an excellent Wi-Fi scanner, anti-phishing protection, and coverage for up to 3 Android and iOS devices. For Windows tablets, Norton 360 offers reliable antivirus protection along with extras like a VPN, dark web monitoring, and parental controls. You can try out Norton risk-free with a 60-day money-back guarantee.
🥈2. McAfee — Best Web Protections and Anti-Theft Tools
McAfee provides excellent security tools for tablets — its malware scanner blocked 100% of the malware and deceptive apps in my testing (even a couple of advanced spyware apps that managed to pass the Google Play Store’s security scans).
Apart from the malware scanner, I really love McAfee’s web protections, which include:
- Wi-Fi scanning.
- Ad tracker blocking.
- VPN (with unlimited data).
All of McAfee’s web protections worked well during my tests — I was particularly impressed with McAfee’s VPN, which secured my internet connection, made sure my browsing stayed private, and allowed me to access a variety of geo-blocked sites across the globe.
McAfee also has the best anti-theft protections out of any app on this list. It automatically photographs anybody trying to break into your tablet, and it also includes location tracking, remote data wiping, and an incredibly loud alarm which you can trigger remotely. But McAfee’s anti-theft tools are only offered for Android and iOS devices, not Windows tablets.
McAfee’s Mobile Security Plus is a good choice for Android or iPad users, whereas Windows tablet users will want to check out McAfee Total Protection — it provides the same suite of tools that McAfee Mobile Security does, plus coverage on up to 10 devices across all operating systems and extras like a password manager and identity theft protection for US users.
McAfee provides some of the best internet security tools on the market — its malware and app scanning was 100% effective at detecting malware and deceptive apps in my testing, and it includes some really great web protections. McAfee Mobile Security Plus also includes anti-theft protection for iOS and Android users, and McAfee Total Protection covers up to 10 devices and adds extras like a password manager. All McAfee purchases come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
🥉3. Avira — Best Free Security App for Tablets
Avira has a good range of free internet security features for all tablets. Avira’s cloud-based malware scanner — which is really fast and doesn’t take up a lot of system resources — blocked all of the malware samples in my testing (and I barely noticed it was there even when it was scanning my devices).
Along with cloud-based malware scanning, Avira comes with an app privacy scanner that protects tablets from data-harvesting apps and even helps iOS users change iPad settings to limit what information Apple could collect from them.
iOS and Android users will also be happy to know that Avira also offers extensive anti-theft protections, including location tracking, remote wiping, and a remotely triggered alarm (it’s extremely loud).
Avira also has a free VPN — but it’s limited to 100 MB per day, which is barely enough for light browsing. Upgrading to Antivirus Security Pro will also get you camera and microphone protection as well as web protections (including anti-phishing tools which caught more phishing sites than Chrome and Safari during my tests). Windows users can upgrade to Avira Prime, which includes premium coverage for up to 5 devices, a VPN with unlimited data, and more.
Avira’s is a really good antivirus that comes with a range of free features for all kinds of tablets. Avira’s free plan has app scanning, malware protection, data breach monitoring, and a limited VPN (100 MB per day), but users looking for additional features should upgrade to Avira Antivirus Security Pro or Avira Prime. Avira offers a 30-day money back guarantee on all purchases.
4. TotalAV — Easy-to-Use App for All Tablets
TotalAV is a good antivirus with an easy-to-use interface — it’s a great choice for beginner or non-technical tablet users looking for a secure and simple product.
TotalAV’s malware scanner did a good job at detecting malware during my tests, and I was also very impressed with TotalAV’s app scanner which blocked unsafe apps before I could install them.
I also like TotalAV’s anti-phishing protection and secure browser which blocked deceptive websites and provided tracker-free browsing with DuckDuckGo’s privacy-protecting search engine.
TotalAV Total Mobile Security for iOS and Android tablets also has device optimization tools, data breach monitoring, and a VPN. TotalAV also has 3 premium plans for Windows tablet users or users looking to protect more devices (up to 6).
TotalAV is a user-friendly antivirus for tablet users looking for good, basic malware protection. TotalAV performed well during my tests, blocking all of my malware samples and phishing sites. Users looking to protect Android tablets or iPads should consider TotalAV Total Mobile Security, which also has a VPN, device optimization tools, and data breach monitoring. Windows tablet users should take a look at TotalAV’s multi-device plans which cover up to 6 devices across all operating systems. All TotalAV purchases have a 30-day money-back guarantee.
5. Bitdefender — Lightweight App with Good Scanning Engine
Bitdefender has a fast cloud-based malware scanner that’s extremely lightweight — the malware scanner caught every malware file in my testing, and it didn’t slow down my devices or use up any battery power during scans.
Bitdefender also includes a good variety of cybersecurity tools, like:
- App security advisor (Autopilot).
- VPN (200 MB per day).
- Anti-phishing protection.
- Anti-theft protections.
Bitdefender’s Autopilot feature is pretty unique — it monitors your device usage and fixes critical issues on your tablet without disturbing you or asking for your authorization.
For iPad and Android users, Bitdefender Mobile Security is available for a pretty cheap yearly subscription. Windows tablet users can check out Bitdefender Total Security, which provides cloud-based protection for up to 5 PCs, tablets, and mobile devices.
Bitdefender’s lightweight cloud-based malware engine is bundled with some great additional features for tablets. Bitdefender’s Autopilot feature allows it to fix critical issues and problems without disturbing you and tailor security protections to best suit your needs. Bitdefender also comes with anti-phishing controls, breach monitoring, and a limited VPN (200 MB per day). Windows tablet users or users looking to cover multiple devices should get Bitdefender Total Security, which covers up to 5 devices. Bitdefender has a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Frequently Asked Questions — Security Apps for Tablets
🤔 Can you get viruses on a tablet?
It depends. Both Windows and Android tablets can get viruses, but iPads have really good built-in security protections that limit what files they are able to run, meaning iPads can’t get viruses.
However, all tablet users (including iPad users) l have to worry about downloading malicious apps — the Apple App Store, Windows Store, and Google Play Store all have apps that can compromise your security.
Plus, whether you’re using Windows, Android, or iOS, you can still have your information compromised online through phishing sites, malicious web trackers, unsecured Wi-Fi networks, and large scale data breaches.
Fortunately, the security programs on this list don’t just scan for malware and deceptive apps, they also provide a variety of internet security features to keep you protected against all sorts of cybersecurity threats.
🤔 Doesn’t my tablet have antivirus protection?
Tablets have built-in security protections, but they’re not usually good enough to keep your data and device completely safe.
- Windows tablets use Windows Defender, Microsoft’s proprietary security software. It’s gotten a lot better in recent years, but it’s not updated often, and it doesn’t have the next-gen malware scanning capabilities of a standalone antivirus program like Norton or McAfee.
- Androids have Google Play Protect — it’s designed to detect the latest malware and suspicious apps, but it’s not as effective or reliable as third-party competitors like the ones here.
- iOS devices are pretty secure. They have internal sandboxing which makes it impossible for malicious code to move from one app to the rest of the operating system. They’re safe from “viruses”, but they don’t provide adequate internet security or privacy protections like phishing, privacy leaks, or theft (unlike the apps on this list).
🤔 What is the best free antivirus for tablets?
If you’re looking for free protection, your best option is Avira. It offers a free mobile security app for Android and iOS devices, and a free Windows antivirus for Windows tablets.
Avira is a good free security app that comes with a malware scanner, a network scanner, device optimization, a VPN, and anti-theft protections, but it also comes with some frustrating limitations — there’s a 100 MB/day limit on the VPN (which makes it practically useless), and you also need to upgrade if you want web, microphone, and webcam protections. I recommend most users invest in Avira Prime, which offers coverage for up to 5 computers and tablets as well as a VPN with unlimited browsing data.
🤔 How can I keep my data and tablet safe online?
The single best way to protect your data online is to get an antivirus app with advanced internet security tools, such as anti-phishing software, Wi-Fi scanners, and VPNs.
All of the apps on this list have pretty good web protections, but I think that Norton and McAfee provide the best balance of security, high performance, and intuitive features for secure web browsing.
If you need to keep a lot of other devices safe on the internet (phones, computers, etc.), read more about the best internet security suites of 2021.
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