Android Antivirus Apps Can’t Protect Your Smartphone From Malware

According to a study by AV-Comparatives, there are no Android antivirus apps on the Google Play Store, or elsewhere, that can protect your smartphone from malware.

More than 250 such anti-malware apps were tested by the Austrian antivirus testing company which gathered them from various developers present on the Google Play Store. After that, the apps went through a test that would determine whether they could offer protection against Android’s 2,000 most common malware threats. The automated testing framework from AV-Comparatives was used.

Most of these tests were performed on Android 8.0, on Samsung Galaxy S9 devices, but some of them were also conducted on Android 6.01 on Nexus 5 because they were not working correctly with that set-up. The malware apps were downloaded and installed automatically by the devices, with the assumption that the Android antivirus apps would block most of the security threats.

Android Antivirus Apps Can’t Protect Your Smartphone From Malware

Unfortunately, the tests did not work as planned. Only 23 out of 250 Android antivirus apps involved in the study were able to block and detect 100 percent of the malware samples. Some apps included in the tests were Trend Micro Mobile Security and Antivirus, Avast Mobile Security, Sophos Mobile Security, AVG, and Avira Antivirus.

Over 30 percent of the Android malware, with zero false alarms, were detected by 80 of the 250 apps based on the test from AV-Comparatives. Less than 30 percent of the malware samples were blocked by antivirus apps from 138 vendors while also having high false alarm rates on clean files from the Google Play Store.

The testing company flagged many antivirus apps because they were using a blacklist approach to potentially tag malware. That is a disadvantage because malware creators can easily bypass those lists. The downloaded apps were not scanned for malware, which is precisely the role of such an app.

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