Android Antivirus Doesn't Actually Work

The open nature of the Android platform, along with its growing popularity has made it something of a potential target for malware. To combat that, there's a number of paid and free AV products that you can run on your Android phone or tablet. The only problem? They apparently don't work well — if at all. AV-TEST.org ran seven free and two paid Android AV apps through their paces with 83 APK and 89 Dalvik binary packages. The free AV solutions were Antivirus Free, BluePoint Antivirus Free, GuardX Antivirus, Kinetoo Malware Scan, LabMSF Antivirus beta, Privateer Lite and Zoner AntiVirus Free, while the paid tested apps were from Kaspersky and F-Secure.

The results, to put it politely, weren't very good. I'll be more explicit than that. They were crap. The two paid products detected at least 50 per cent of malware, but on the free side of the fence, the best result was for Zoner, which picked 32 per cent of malicious files. That still means it left 68 per cent of the bad stuff through, at which point I'd say there's no point in running it at all. Frankly, even the test results for the paid apps aren't as good as I'd like to see, although the test document doesn't list the specifics for those apps, I'd need to see more data before condemning them utterly.

(Note: To ward off the inevitable; other closed mobile platforms are also targets for malware, obviously — but there are far fewer AV products for them, and that's what this story addresses.) [AV-TEST.org via PC Advisor]


Comments

    The main problem with substandard antivirus like this is the risk of people thinking along the lines of: "Hmm, should I get that app? It looks kinda suss... Oh, hang on, I have antivirus, I'm protected! Download!" and then get infected. If they didn't have any AV, they would be more cautious and therefore safer.

      This. The best protection is to let people download stupid shit, get a virus, lose everything, rebuild. It's like an inoculation of caution into your stupidity. Although it did take me a few more doses than I'd care to admit.

      Unfortunately that is exactly the situation with systems like iOS, Linux, OSX etc. All are virus and malware targets, but because of the false sense of security users tend to be more careless. It's the "Volvo driver" syndrome.

      Thankfully there are statistically few threats for any of these platforms at this stage, Android included.

        Um, sorry to burt your bubble, there are no "viruses" for either iOS OSX or linux, but at last count there was around 20 million for PC's. ( A virus self executes its exploit without the users knowledge and will infect the system). And lets not forget the Android/Wallpaper scam, so considering the openness of Android, it has a much greater risk of being exploited.

          You're either being ironic, or silly, I'm not sure which..
          anyway, there is malware for all major OSs that are in use
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linux_malware
          http://www.iantivirus.com/threats/
          http://www.symantec.com/security_response/threatexplorer/azlisting.jsp

          *slow clap* can we have a round of ironic applause for the fanboy? He does try EVER so hard.

          Even if your rather large claim is still true, and there are no Mac viruses by the strictest definition (yet), I'm sure that this will be greatly comforting to all the Mac users who have systems infected with trojans, worms and other malware... It certainly exists, and is in the wild, and continuing to cling to thin semantic points like you have here is only building a false sense of security for yourself. Good luck with that.

          And please, Kroo, let's not bring up single-issue exploits in in the same week your precious iOS security halo got broken by a security researcher and Apple pitch a hissy fit and revoke his dev status rather than take his advice onboard and tighten their systems. Android has weak points, iOS has weak points, hell I bet Symbian has weak points if anyone can be bothered to look for them. ALL systems have vulnerabilities, and Mac has a large enough market share that it's becoming a target. Deal with it.

          You are completely wrong. And youy are spreading dangerous misinformation. Of course there are viruses and malware for all of the Apple OS's and for Linux too. Don't you read the news? And as Apple OS's are getting more popular, the number of detected new Malware infections has gone up. The idiots that write this stuff are opportunistic. If a platform has a lot of users. that platform becomes more of a target than some other less used platform. When the Mac's had less than 4 % market share, they were not much of a target. But now that they, as well as IOS have gotten some more traction, they are targeted much more than before.

          The Apple OS's HAVE ALWAYS been vulnerable. They were never safe to operate without protection. Mac zealots claimed they could never be infected, but either they were delusional, or just spreading non-truths; much like you are.

          I worked in an all Mac office. The fellow that set up the Macs claimed that they were virus free. And he had installed no antivirus or antimalware software. He, like you claimed that Macs could not be infected. So I ran a virus and malware scan on my Mac. INFECTED. Then a few others in the office scanned theirs. INFECTED. Now before you go blaming the PCs in the office, let me tell you. There were none.

          Run a real scan on your Mac. Don't do this with one of the freeware scanners. Use something you have to pay for that is aggressive about updating definitions often. I am willing to bet that you wil find serious problems.

    I'm not really surprised by this - the buy-in price (even for the paid ones) is too low for there to be a huge revenue stream coming from sales, so I can't see anyone justifying intensive updating of virus definitions. Add to that the fact that it's a pretty new platform, so fresh exploits are found quite frequently...

    The best policy is still a little bit of caution regarding non-store installs, and (as has been said by other posters) the presence of AV apps might give some users a false sense of security. Eventually when Android takes more of a serious stab at business service, I'd expect someone to start offering phone AV as a bundle with their server/terminal AV and performance ought to improve markedly. Until then, here's hoping that common sense is common.

    How about testing other AV's for android like AVG and Nortons, both which are free.

    The best antivirus is some common sense with a good dollop of caution.

    IOS and OSX will have plenty, but Apple will just sweep them under the rug and pretend it didn't happen, or they will just invent antivirus software to get rid of the ivirus or itrojan. But Android is a fun open OS, so format and install another OS version when it gets too slow.

    I use Norton on my Samsung Galaxy S and my Acer Iconia - Never had a problem with any virus on my devices. Even better still with Norton if i lose my phone and I send a text message and the phone data is wiped.

    And Kroo - if there are no virus for Mac's why is there anti-virus software made for them??

    Remember that Android is open source, so the risk it there, it is a trade off of having the freedom to play around with your device. Go with Apple iOS and well then you have to do everything Apple's way. Go with Android and you have the freedom to do anything you want to your phone. I love my Android devices and I am yet to be convinced by anyone that the iPhone is a better phone for a tech head like me

    Dont you love when you pay for an antivirus so it can tell you of virus you dont actually have?

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now