THE VAST MAJORITY of Android antivirus apps do absolutely nothing other than make ad revenue for their creators, a study of 250 products by AV-Comparatives has found.
Yes, you may as well change your wallpaper to say "no viruses allowed:" it'd be just as effective as the 170 antivirus products that detected fewer than 30 per cent of the 2000 malicious apps installed for testing purposes.
Some merely let malicious apps run riot while another subset is okay at spotting threats, but creates more by design.
Another subset have an approach to security which is just blocking everything that isn't a well-known app - and in some cases that involved blocking themselves. Though even if this approach is theoretically okay, they weren't very thorough: they simply looked for package names such as com.facebook or com.adobe, and let them through. Suffice it to say, malicious app makers are not above just renaming their products to beat the filter.
It's worth highlighting that 23 of the apps in the test spotted everything the researchers threw at them. These included well established names from the PC security field such as Avast, AVG, Bitdefender, ESET, Kaspersky, McAfee. Sophos, Symantec and Trend Micro along with other, lesser known good eggs. You can see the full list on AV-Comparatives' site.
But why do so many worthless antivirus apps exist? The company thinks it's either for the ad money or to "have an Android protection app in their portfolio for publicity reasons." So if your AV provider also makes a camera app, a Candy Crush clone and an emoji pack, it's probably worth asking when they have time to research malware.
The most worrying thing about this is how little difference there is between a good app and a bad app to the untrained eye. "Using user ratings is clearly not effective, as the vast majority of users will give their rating based solely on the user experience, without having any idea as to whether the app offers effective protection," AV Comparatives writes. "Most of the 250 apps we looked at had a review score of 4 or higher on the Google Play Store."
In short, when it comes to picking an antivirus solution, maybe don't just take the word of funguy2973's glowing one-line review. Get some expert opinion instead. µ
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