A new study has proven that most Antivirus apps on the Android are a complete waste of money with some even making your device more vulnerable to malware.
The discovery is shocking given the increased level of exploitation of existing known attacks and the hidden so called ‘zero-day’ attacks which remain largely unpublished. Cybercrime is on the rise with exploits being used to steal credit card details, personal information including locations, GPS history, personal and professional contacts, emails, bank details, and other critical and sensitive information stored on mobile phones.
While the problem is not unique to the Android eco-system it’s sustained position as market leader has made it the first stop for new cybercriminal gangs as well as more established operators. The news is especially troubling given the rumbling volcano of recent accusations of spying against Huawei and suggests a picture of systematic exploitation which is largely being dealt with personally and quietly by large swathes of the population.
The initial study carried out in 2017 by AV-Comparatives was inspired by the surprising discovery that Virus Shield an anti-virus app which claimed to run a scan for malware in fact did nothing of the sort. Instead just showing a progress bar and announcing that the device was ‘free’ of malicious apps at the end of the animation. Many thousands of users paid money for Virus Shield, and it was trusted mainly because of it’s listing in the Google Play store. Google eventually had to refund the money paid to the users of the app, but not before seriously damaging their own reputation for security and thorough vetting of their apps.
Since then AV Comparatives have done an annual test of AV apps on the Google Play store and published their results. They found that in addition to apps failing to perform checks, those apps which did often failed to detect the majority of malware, and were primarily a vehicle for displaying adverts and thus generating continued revenue for their authors. In the two hundred or so apps tested in 2018, 35 of them were pure ad slinging vehicles with little to no security value to their users.
More recently the 2019 test was conducted on over 250 apps and of those only 80 could detect at most 40% of malware, and generated no false positives.
For your convenience these are presented below:
|AegisLab Antivirus Premium||MalwareBytes Anti-Malware|
|AhnLab V3 Mobile Security||Max Dev Labs Antivirus|
|Alibaba Alibaba Master||Media Master MD Antivirus|
|Antivirus Apps Studio Antivirus||MicroWorld eScan Mobile Security|
|Antiy AVL||MY-DATA Mobile Security|
|Apex Apps Mobile Security||MYMobile Security Warrior|
|APUS Group APUS Security||NQ Mobile Security|
|Avast Mobile Security||NSHC Droid-X 4U|
|AVG AntiVirus||ONE App Virus Cleaner|
|AVIRA Antivirus||Panda Free Antivirus and VPN|
|Bitdefender Mobile Security & Antivirus||Phone Clean Apps Virus Cleaner|
|Brainiacs Apps Antivirus System||Power Tools Apps Antivirus|
|BSafe Labs Antivirus||Privacy Lab Antivirus & Mobile Security|
|BullGuard Mobile Security and Antivirus||PSafe dfndr security|
|CAP Lab Phone Cleaner||Qihoo 360 Mobile Security|
|Check Point ZoneAlarm Mobile Security||Quick Heal Antivirus & Mobile Security|
|Chili Security Android Security||REVE Antivirus Mobile Security|
|Clean Boost+ Studio Phone Cleaner||Securion OnAV|
|Comodo Mobile Security||Samsung Device Maintenance|
|Dr.Web Security Space||Smooth Apps Studio Super Antivirus|
|DU APPS STUDIO Speed Booster & Cleaner||Sophos Mobile Security|
|Emsisoft Mobile Security||Super Cleaner Studio Super Antivirus|
|ESET Mobile Security & Antivirus||Supermobilesafe Super Security|
|ESTsoft Dr.Capsule Antivirus||STOPzilla Mobile Security|
|Fotoable Antivirus & cleaner||Super Security Studio Antivirus|
|F-Secure Internet Security & Mobile Antivirus||Symantec Norton Security|
|G DATA Internet Security||TAPI Security Labs Antivirus & Virus Cleaner|
|GizmoSmart Antivirus||Tencent WeSecure|
|Google Play Protect||TG Soft VirIT Mobile Security|
|Hawk App Super Cleaner||ThreatTrack VIPRE Mobile Security|
|Hi Security Virus Cleaner||Total Defense Mobile Security|
|Hyper Speed Antivirus||Trend Micro Mobile Security & Antivirus|
|IKARUS Mobile Security||TrustGo Antivirus & Mobile Security|
|IntelliAV Anti-Virus||Trustlook Antivirus & Mobile Security|
|IObit AMC Security||Trustwave Mobile Security|
|Kaspersky Lab Mobile Antivirus||WatchdogDevelopment Mobile Security|
|K7Computing Mobile Security||We Make It Appen Antivirus|
|Lookout Security & Antivirus||Webroot Mobile Security & Antivirus|
|McAfee Mobile Security||Zemana Antivirus & Security|
|MalwareFox Anti-Malware||ZONER AntiVirus|
By contrast the following 138 ‘anti-virus’ apps flagged less than 30% of malware and generated large numbers of false positives rendering them all but useless for securing one’s Android phoneo or tablet:
1Machine System Sdn Bhd, actionappsgamesstudio, Amantechnoapps, AMIGOS KEY, Amnpardaz Soft, AndroHelm Security, ANTI VIRUS Security, Antivirus Mobile Lab, antivirus security, appflozen, appsshow, Appzila, Arcane Security Solutions, AS team security phone Lab, asuizksidev, Ayogames, AZ Super Tools, azemoji studio, Baboon Antivirus, bESapp, Best Battery Apps, Best HD Wallpapers APPS, Best Tools Pro, BestOne, Bit Inception, BKAV, Bom Bom, Booster studio Laboratory Inc., brouno, Bulletproof AV, Caltonfuny Antivirus Phone, Cheetah Mobile, CHOMAR, Chromia, Cloud 7 Services, Core Antivirus Lab, CPCORP TEAM: Photo blur & photo blender, CreativeStudioApps, CY Security, Defenx, DefineSoft, DreamBig Studios, DU Master, electro dev, Erus IT Private Limited, Falcon Security Lab, Fast n Clean, fluer-apps.com, Formation App, Free Apps Drive, FrouZa, Galaxy TEAM, GameXpZeroo, GlobalsApps, gndnSoftware, GOMO Apps, GoNext App Developers, Gridinsoft, LLC, handy tools apps, Hello Security, Immune Smart, INCA Internet, infiniteWays007, Islamic Basic Education, Itus Mobile Security, JESKO, jixic, Kolony Cleaner, Koodous Mobile, lempea, LINE, LIONMOBI, Live multi Player Game, Main Source 365 Tech, Mama Studio, MAN Studio, Marsolis Tech, Max Antivirus Lab, Max Mobi Secure, MaxVV, Mob Utilities, Mobile Tools Plus, Mobtari, Mond Corey, M-Secure, MSolutions, MSYSOFT APPS, My Android Antivirus, NCN-NetConsulting, Nepelion Camp, Nisi Jsc, Niulaty, NP Mobile Security, NPC Studios, Omha, Oxic Studio, Pix2Pic Studio, playyourapp, Pro Tool Apps, prote apps, Protector & Security for Mobile, Puce, Radial Apps 2018, RedBeard, Secure Cloud, SecureBrain2, Security and Antivirus for Android solutions, Security Apps Team, Security Defend, SECURITY LAB, Security Systems Lab, SecurityApplock, Sept Max, ShieldApps, SjaellSoft, SkyMobileTeam, Smart Battery Solution & Creative Screen Lock, smarteazyapps, Software Center, Soft War, stmdefender, Systweak Software, TAIGA SYSTEM, Tokyo Tokyo, Tools dev, tools for android, Utilitarian Tools, Vainfotech, VHSTUDIO, Vikrant Waghmode, Virinchi Software, Virtues Media & Application, VSAR, Wingle Apps, Xtechnoz Apps, XZ Game, Z Team Pro.
The Ugly Truth
In summary most of these apps are phony, being used to generate easy revenue for their developers. Some well known brands such as F-Secure or Kaspersky Labs perform above the current industry average.
One can reduce risk – move as many essential systems away from your phone as possible. Despite convenience – do not keep credit cards details or banking apps on the phone. Use secure browsers to surf the net. Turn off location, and keep your system patched.
Safe stay readers.