Are You Using Safe Android Antivirus..?
Tread carefully when it comes to Android security products – and never take an app provider’s claims at face value. In light of recent research showing that the majority of antivirus apps are pretty much useless, these messages are more relevant than ever.
Here’s why many antivirus (AV) apps can end up doing you and your phone more harm than good…
What the researchers did…
Austrian Antivirus testers, AV-Comparatives took a sample of 250 antivirus security apps by an assortment of developers found on the Google Play Store.
Through the company’s automated Android testing framework, the 250 security products were tested against the 2,000 most common Android threats of 2018 (testing took place in January 2019). As these were established threats, you would expect them to have been indexed, identified and blocked by any antivirus software worthy of the label.
The researchers defined the threshold between a legitimate antivirus app and one that was ineffective or unsafe as the ability to detect more than 30% of threats with zero false positives.
What they found…
For the 250 apps under the spotlight, here’s what was discovered…
Only 80 apps passed the basic test, detecting more than 30% of threats with zero false alarms.
Apps from 138 current vendors failed the test - either because they detected less than 30% of the malware samples, or because they gave a high rate of false alarms.
A further 32 apps had been removed from the Play Store in the time between the testing and publication of the research.
Overall, just 23 apps detected 100% of the malware samples.
A 100% success rate should be the norm
Of the products that failed the test, around half did so because of their low malware detection capabilities.
A benchmark of 30% success rate really isn’t asking a lot. After all, it’s not as if the researchers were expecting the products to pick up on new and previously unseen threats. The 2,000 malware strains used in the research had been present in the wild well before the testing took place - so any antimalware software worth its salt would be able to detect them as a matter of course. As the researchers point out, within these testing conditions, a detection rate of 90% and above should be “easily achievable”.
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