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Your Android Antivirus App May be Useless

As it turns out, not all Android malware detection apps are as good as they claim.

The latest performance results, from the independent testing organization AV-Tests, shows that quite a few Android Antivirus apps are less than adequate to protect your Android smart phone and Tablet from threats.

Figure 1: Red boxes indicates a family of malware that went undetected, while orange through green indicates partial to full detection of threats from a given malware family.

Figure 1: Red boxes indicates that malware went undetected; orange through green indicates partial to full detection.

According to AV-Test’s CEO, Andreas Marx, desktop antivirus vendors that migrated to Android generally perform the best, therefore solutions such as Lookout and Zoner were standouts because they are mobile only products.

Top Performers

If you use Avast, Lookout, Dr. Web, Zoner, F-Secure, Ikarus, or Kaspersky you will be happy to know that they detected 90 percent or more of the 618 types of malicious Android APK files that were used in the test.

While AVG, Bitdefender, ESET, Norton (Symantec,) QuickHeal, Trend Micro, Vipre (GFI,) and Webroot; and two mobile-only vendors, AegisLab and SuperSecurity detected between 65 to 90 percent of the threats. Marx is of the opinion that they were still good antivirus solutions because some of the threats that brought down their scores aren’t really threats in certain environments.

Below Average

The third group, which included Bullguard, Comodo, G Data, McAfee, NetQin and Total Defense, scored between 40 and 65 percent detection rates. The report however gives some explanation as to why some mobile antivirus solutions faired so poorly. The reason may be due to the insufficient sample infrastructure partly due to the fact that threats are quickly removed from the Android Market.

Even so, it is still worrying that there were other apps that detected nothing at all. AV-Test acknowledges that there is the possibility that these apps may be able to detect malware, just not the ones in the test kit. Still, it is worrying that some Android Antivirus apps don’t work.

Does Your Antivirus App Work?

Antivirus solutions don’t guarantee a 100% detection rate owing to the fact that new threats are created all the time. Nonetheless, you should have a look at the report to make sure your Android Antivirus app is earning its place in your list of installed apps.


Avtest_2012-02_android_anti-malware_report_english.pdf, AVGTest.org

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