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How 'Anti' is Your Android Phones Anti-Virus?

Just How 'Anti' is Your Android Phone's Anti-Virus?

Too much, as they say, is better than not enough – and when it comes to protecting your mobile phone security, you’d be inclined to agree. Yet on such digital storefronts as the Google Play Store, the sheer number of Anti-Virus programmes available makes it harder to make an educated choice.

A recent survey by AV-Comparatives demonstrates that for the wealth of Anti-Virus software on the Google Play Store, almost 40% are unfit for purpose. In a test featuring 250 Android apps, Anti-Virus packages were tested using the same criteria and method; by downloading a malicious file within Google Chrome, then installing and executing it from the Android phone’s file explorer.

Of the 250 Anti-Virus apps tested, 80 managed to detect over 30% of malicious apps without flagging any false positives. The rest didn’t fare so well; even those that did detect more than 30% of threats were found to have some serious holes in their defences.

Some of the findings are damning. Many apps didn’t actively search for viruses at all, instead scanning installed apps to see if they matched a rudimentary whitelist. This meant that malicious coders could merely amend their app’s name to those on the whitelist and pass by unnoticed.

It was also discovered that many of these apps were based on existing vendors’ engines, often looking identical but performing less reliably thanks to bugs and incompatibility errors. However, this did result in some rather humorous instances of Anti-Virus software recognising itself as a potential threat. Not a great advert for your product.

The survey concludes that “well-known, verifiable and reputable vendors” are the way to go, and it’s best to access their apps from a link within their store pages. As always, be sure that the site is trusted and that the vendor’s privacy policy is always available. It always helps to have a strong and trustworthy Anti-Virus software – but if AV-Comparatives’ survey proves anything, it’s that security begins at home.

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