Android security suites compared

Android security suites compared

Summary: AV-Test.org's latest comparison of security suites for Android have many products with very high scores. Among the best, the difference is in a comparison of features and capabilities for the enterprise.

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AV-Test.org has released their latest tests of Android security apps. They tested 31 apps with results ranging from dreadful to excellent, with the large majority either excellent or close to it. The tests were performed in March and early April 2014.

AV-Test's take on the key findings includes (quoting them):

  • The malware protection rate was in the range of 17.7% to 100%, with an average detection of 95.3% (this value is 0.7% lower when compared with the previously performed review).
  • Six security apps created false positives on our test systems, including clean Apps from Google Play and from 3rd party App stores.
  • The offered features of the free and paid-for security apps differ significantly. Therefore, we recommend a close look at the list of reviewed security features like anti-theft, backup and encryption.

Twelve of the products got top scores on all three of their criteria: protection (how well the product protects against malware), usability (false positives and impact on performance, battery life and network traffic) and features (beyond malware protection). This means that they detected 100% of all malware and had no adverse impact on system performance, battery life, or network consumption. Many other products were close on one or more of these scores, but to make things manageable we decided to focus on the products below.

Kingsoft Mobile Security and Qihoo 360 MobileSecurity appear to be Chinese only and AhnLab V3 Mobile Plus is Korean only. We aren't qualified to evaluate any of the information on the web sites or Google Play, so we have removed them. This cuts the number of products to nine.

The first thing we can look at are the added features. AV-Test gives a point to a product simply for having any "important security features" beyond the core malware protection. But they also list which products have which features. By this measure, the winner is NQ Mobile Security, with ESET Mobile Security and McAfee Mobile Security not far behind. But this is an area where you can look at the features in each and decide which matter most to you.

Most of the products work on the freemium model: There is a free version, but if you pay to upgrade to the Premium version you get more features. KSMobile and TrustGo's products are full-featured in the free versions.

We also looked, as AV-Test suggested, at the differences in the free offerings and whether the vendor provides any tools with which companies might manage them. Not surprisingly, the products with versions that provide manageability come from the more established endpoint security companies: ESET, Kaspersky, McAfee, and Trend Micro.

Product Free/Premium Enterprise Version
Avira Free Android Security 3.1 Free. Pro version ($11.99) adds protection against malicious/phishing sites and identity theft, and more frequent updates. none
ESET Mobile Security & Antivirus 2.0 Free. Premium upgrade ($14.95 for one year -[an earlier version of this story mistakenly had the price at $29.95]) activates many features: Remote Wipe, SIM Guard, Anti-Phishing, Apps Audit, Device Monitoring, Groups Blocking, Block Last Caller, Control calls and SMS by setting rules for incoming and outgoing calls and texts limited to specific times, while allowing exceptions for family and friends. ESET Endpoint Security for Android - "Monitor the security status of your smartphone fleet, run on-demand scans, push security policies and set passwords to prevent unauthorized uninstallation. Get an overview of the platforms, OS versions and other device information to stay up-to-date on your smartphones’ security."
Kaspersky Internet Security 11.2 Free. Premium upgrade ($14.95 for one year) activates Anti-malware Protection, Web Protection, Anti-Theft Protection, Privacy Protection, Call & Text Filter Kaspersky Security For Mobile: "FOR CORPORATE USERS ONLY!"; Remote configuration of app settings by the administrator; Remote start of Anti-Theft by the administrator. When your device gets lost or stolen, contact your system administrator so he can protect your personal and corporate data stored on the device; Control of access to apps installed on the device. The administrator can create a list of allowed and blocked apps and specify required apps; Control of device functions (such as the Wi-Fi module or camera). The administrator can restrict access to certain functions of your device.
KSMobile Clean Master 5.0 Free. No premium version. none
KSMobile CM Security 1.0 Free. No premium version. none
McAfee Mobile Security 4.0 Free. Premium upgrade ($29.99/year) provides "McAfee’s award-winning phone support, media backup and a promotion-free app environment" McAfee VirusScan Mobile: No indication of manageability features. Web site information is quite old, indicating product is not actively marketed.
NQMobile Security 7.2 Free. Premium ($2.99/month, $7.99/3 months, $19.99/12 months) enables automatic updates, anti-eavesdropping, financial protection and social network protection. none
Trend Micro Mobile Security 5.0 Free. Premium upgrade ($29.99) adds malware cleaner, privacy scanner, malicious web site blocker, parental controls, lost device protection, and unauthorized uninstall protection. Enterprise Security and Data Protection: "MDM, data security, mobile security, and application management"
TrustGo Mobile Security 1.3 Free. No premium version. none

Not all vendors choose to cooperate with AV-Test on their comparisons and AV-Test does not test such products. Some of the vendors may disagree with AV-Test methodology. Among the non-prarticipants in this report are Lookout and AVG. When they test, AV-Test says they require access to experts at the company in order to verify findings and give them a chance to dispute those findings. 

You can follow the details of AV-Test's reports yourself by following them on Twitter.

Topics: Security, Android, Mobility

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10 comments
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  • Android

    Nice post. Android is the best. I knew some interesting games in android. Check this out: http://bit.ly/1lt1BbL and http://bit.ly/1havdLC .
    Boooooonek
  • Web checking

    In the Heise Security test, in Germany, many of the products got a failing mark because they were sending complete URL in the clear to their servers for checking.

    http://www.heise.de/security/meldung/Android-Virenscanner-schnueffeln-Surf-Verhalten-aus-2121229.html

    Those that failed were AVAST, AVG, Dr. Web, Lookout and Symantec Norton Antivirus.

    Eset was the only one that got any praise.

    Essentially, every website that is visited is checked against a list of known bad servers, but instead of just sending the main part of the URL (E.g. domain and page), the products were sending all data in the clear, including any usernames and passwords that were included in the URL! As if that wasn't bad enough, as said above, most were sending the URL in clear text; even if the source site that the browser was visiting was running an encrypted session!
    wright_is
  • What about Norton?

    There is Norton 360 Any Device which includes android. Any reason that was not included?
    bsieck
    • Norton Mobile Security was in there

      It must be the same engine as the one bundled with 360.
      larry@...
  • BlackBerry remains the gold standard for security

    When you consider over 96% of malware is on Android devices, and Apple had to caution users against doing mobile banking, anyone seriously concerned about mobile security should stick to BlackBerry! The Z30 is a great, high end Galaxy replacement for those who like the large screen Android devices and for those who are primarily concerned about processing a high volume of emails in a secure and timely fashion, the classic keyboard Q10 is a very good phone. Odd BlackBerry faces so much criticism, when the competition still cannot match BlackBerry for security, nor reliable build quality for new BlackBerry 10 devices and Z30's 25 hours of battery life.
    HenselM
    • Using any other phone besides Android

      therefore means that users can avoid malware 96% of the time. I would say that those are pretty good odds.
      arminw
  • You Left out Vipre Mobile AntiVirus

    ThreatTrack Security (Vipre AntiVirus)(VipreMobile) was not included in your assessment and I am curious as to why. They have a very good mobile platform and it works. It is also loaded with features such as Remote Locking, Privacy Explorer, Remote Wipe, Location Detection, Backup and Activity Monitor.

    Suggest in the future before you write such biased articles that you take a good look around for what is out there, not just your favorites.
    Labrynth
    • Read paragraph in article

      “Not all vendors choose to cooperate with AV-Test on their comparisons and AV-Test does not test such products. Some of the vendors may disagree with AV-Test methodology. Among the non-prarticipants in this report are Lookout and AVG. When they test, AV-Test says they require access to experts at the company in order to verify findings and give them a chance to dispute those findings.”
      daikon
  • You're blaming Mr. Seltzer??

    More astute readers noted that Larry Seltzer didn't claim to test any of the apps; he's just reporting on the results from the testing company. The article includes links to the company's site and their twitter page.
    You might want to head there to do your all-important ranting.
    kidtree
  • LOOKOUT

    Use Lookout - no worries. Good service all around.
    mytake4this