Independent test lab AV-Test.org has completed a comparison of 28 Android security apps.
[CORRRECTION: An earlier version of this story mistakenly swapped some of the vendor names in the table at the bottom. We apologize.]
The problem of malware on Android is a controversial one: Clearly there is a lot of malware — AV-Test says that in November of this year they received about 6,000 unique samples per day, for a so-far total in 2013 of over 1.5 million — but there isn't as widespread a perception of the need for security products as there is, for instance, on Windows.
The quality of the Android security products tested has gone up from their last evaluation: The average detection rate was 96.6%, over 6% better than the last test. There were only a few false positives, only a few products performed poorly, and 8 products got essentially a perfect score. The detection tests were performed against a set of 2,124 malicious apps.
AV-Test looked at more than just malware detection. Nearly all of the products have some additional security feature like anti-theft, backup and encryption. Their usability tests used the following criteria:
- Performance: The app does not impact the battery life
- Performance: The app does not slow down the device during normal usage
- Performance: The app does not generate too much traffic
- False warnings during installation of legitimate software from Google Play and their usage
- False warnings during installation of legitimate software from 3rd party app stores and their usage
Many products have free and paid versions with different features, but the range of feature differences between the free and paid versions is large. Make sure to look at the products carefully if this matters to you.
The non-detection features AV-Test looked for were:
- Anti-Theft (Remote-Lock / Remote-Wipe / Locate): Locate, Lock or Wipe your device when it is lost or stolen
- Call Blocker: Block calls from specific or unknown numbers
- Message Filter: Filter messages and/or mails for unwanted content
- Safe Browsing: Protection of malicious websites and/or against phishing
- Parental Control: Features to control or observe the activity of children on the device
- Backup: Personal data can be saved to SD-card or cloud storage
- Encryption: Any kind of encryption is supported (e.g. device encryption, SD-card encryption or VPN)
AV-Test states that they developed all test criteria in close cooperation with the developers and users of the tools. Vendors were allowed to cross-check the results.
So are there actually real security threats out there for Android users? The people who write security software think there is, and so do the people who write malware.
Below is the complete list of products tested and the main test results: