In its latest comparison of Android security apps, independent test lab AV-TEST found an overall high level of detection. 16 of the 30 products tested detected 100 percent of malware in the AV-Test, and many more were close to 100 percent. On the other hand, a few had false positives.
Only two of the products (Zoner Mobile Security 1.1 and SPAMFighter VIRUSfighter Android 2.1) failed to meet AV-TEST's standards for certification.
The movement in the pool of products has not been significant sinceless than two months ago. The median overall score is the same and the average detection percentage is within 1 percent of the last tests.
Here is a complete listing of the products tested and their detection scores:
We have included an AV-Test-provided chart below showing detection rates, focusing on the range of 95 percent to 100 percent, but here's a concise summary of the ranges:
- 100 percent: Aegislab (*), Ahnlab V3 (*), Anity AVL, Avira, Bitdefender, G Data, Ikarus, Kaspersky, Kingsoft, KSMobile CM, KSMobile CMS, McAfee, Norton, Qihoo 360, Trend Micro, TrustGo
- 99.0 percent—99.9 percent: ESET, Anguanjia, Comodo (*), F-Secure, NQ Mobile, Tencent, Webroot
- 96.8 percent—98.7 percent: avast!, Panda (*), Quick Heal, Sophos
- In The Rear: Bornaria (87.3 percent), Zoner (67.5 percent), SPAMFighter (36.1 percent)
(*) - Program had false positives
As the asterisk legend says, four of the products falsely-detected malware in programs. Aegislab Antivirus Premium 1.1 and Ahnlab V3 Mobile 2.1 each had one false detection in a third-party app store. But Comodo Mobile Security 2.3 had three false positives in the Google Play Store and Panda Security Mobile Security 1.1 had four in Google Play.
Next Page: Impact of the security software on the usability of the device
In a very real sense, these tests are more important than the detection scores, even though detection is the basic function of the program. It's an accepted truism of security software these days that if it gets in the user's way, the user will work around it. Security software should be invisible and have no impact on the system unless there's a security problem. (Even then it should try to stay out of the user's way.)
Right off, the false positives are a concern. The two from Aegislab and Ahnlab with apps from third party stores, seem relatively minor. The Comodo and Panda false poisitives, three and four respectively from Google Play apps, bother me a lot more. AV-TEST appears to cut the score by 0.5 for each false positive from either source. I would make the penalty greater for false positives in Google Play, but the point is academic in this case. Nothing else the Comodo or Panda apps is particularly compelling anyway.
Only three products had a bad score on any of the three tests here, i.e. whether the product impacts battery life, whether it slows down the device during normal usage, and whether it generates too much traffic. Two of these are big-name products: AV-TEST says that Kaspersky Internet Security slows down the device during normal usage, Symantec Norton Mobile Security generates too much traffic and Tencent Mobile Security Manager impacts battery life and slows down the device. These are disappointing. Both Symantec and Kaspersky had perfect scores otherwise.
|Impact of the security software on the usability of the device|
|Product||Does not impact the battery life||Does not slow down the device during normal usage||Does not generate too much traffic||False Positives (825 Google Play samples)||False Positives (435 3rd party app store samples)||Score|
|Aegislab Antivirus Premium||+||+||+||0||1||5.5|
|Ahnlab V3 Mobile||+||+||+||0||1||5.5|
|Anguanjia Security Manager||+||+||+||0||0||6|
|avast! Mobile Security||+||+||+||0||0||6|
|Avira Free Android Security||+||+||+||0||0||6|
|Bitdefender Mobile Security||+||+||+||0||0||6|
|Bornaria Mobile Security||+||+||+||0||0||6|
|Comodo Mobile Security||+||+||+||3||0||4.5|
|ESET Mobile Security & Antivirus||+||+||+||0||0||6|
|F-Secure Mobile Security||+||+||+||0||0||6|
|G Data Internet Security||+||+||+||0||0||6|
|Ikarus Mobile Security||+||+||+||0||0||6|
|Kaspersky Internet Security||+||-||+||0||0||5|
|Kingsoft Mobile Security||+||+||+||0||0||6|
|KSMobile Clean Master||+||+||+||0||0||6|
|KSMobile CM Security||+||+||+||0||0||6|
|McAfee Mobile Security||+||+||+||0||0||6|
|NQ Mobile Security||+||+||+||0||0||6|
|Panda Security Mobile Security||+||+||+||4||0||4|
|Qihoo 360 MobileSecurity||+||+||+||0||0||6|
|Quick Heal Total Security||+||+||+||0||0||6|
|Sophos Mobile Security||+||+||+||0||0||6|
|SPAMFighter VIRUSfighter Android||+||+||+||0||0||6|
|Symantec Norton Mobile Security||+||+||-||0||0||5|
|Tencent Mobile Security Manager||-||-||+||0||0||4|
|Trend Micro Mobile Security||+||+||+||0||0||6|
|TrustGo Mobile Security||+||+||+||0||0||6|
|Webroot SecureAnywhere Mobile||+||+||+||0||0||6|
|Zoner Mobile Security||+||+||+||0||0||6|
Next Page: Program features
Here's the feature chart. We apologize that it's a little jammed in order to fit in our format, but there's a key at the bottom to some of the terms.
AV-TEST's scoring standard in this area is insufficient. Products get either 0.0 or 1.0 depending on whether they have "further important security features" or not. It seems any of the listed features are enough to get the 1.0, and you get the same score for just 1 as for all nine listed and extras.
In fact, there's a good case to make that it's in this chart that the good products separate themselves.
|Product||Anti-Theft||Call Block||Msg Filter||Safe Browse||Parent Ctrl / Backup / Crypto||Other features:||Score|
|Aegislab Antivirus Premium||+ / + / +||-||-||-||- / + / -||Anti-Phishing||1.0|
|Ahnlab V3 Mobile||+ / + / +||+||+||-||- / - / +||Network Management||1.0|
|Anguanjia Security Manager||+ / + / +||+||+||+||- / + / +||Traffic Monitoring, Battery Optimizer, Privacy Center, Scream Monitor||1.0|
|Antiy AVL||- / - / -||-||-||-||- / - / -||0.0|
|avast! Mobile Security||+ / + / +||+||+||+||- / + / -||Application Management, Firewall, Network Meter||1.0|
|Avira Free Android Security||+ / + / +||+||+||-||- / - / -||1.0|
|Bitdefender Mobile Security||+ / + / +||-||-||+||- / - / -||Application Audit||1.0|
|Bornaria Mobile Security||+ / + / +||-||-||-||- / - / -||Networks, Rooting Check, Tasks, App Audit||1.0|
|Comodo Mobile Security||+ / + / +||+||+||-||- / + / -||System Optimizer, Software Manager, Task Scheduler, Privacy Protection, Privacy Advisor, Traffic Monitoring, Battery Saver||1.0|
|ESET Mobile Security & Antivirus||+ / + / +||+||+||+||- / - / -||Security Audit, Anti-Phishing||1.0|
|F-Secure Mobile Security||+ / + / +||+||+||+||+ / - / -||1.0|
|G Data Internet Security||+ / + / +||+||+||+||- / + / -||Privacy Advisor, App Protection, Hide Contacts||1.0|
|Ikarus Mobile Security||+ / + / +||-||+||+||- / - / -||1.0|
|Kaspersky Internet Security||+ / + / +||+||+||+||- / - / -||Privacy Protection||1.0|
|Kingsoft Mobile Security||- / - / -||+||+||+||- / - / -||Battery Saver, Android Vulnerability Fixes, Complete Checkup||1.0|
|KSMobile Clean Master||- / - / -||+||-||+||- / + / -||Junk Files, Memory Boost, App Manager, Privacy||1.0|
|KSMobile CM Security||- / - / -||+||-||+||- / - / -||Trust List||1.0|
|McAfee Mobile Security||+ / + / +||+||+||+||- / + / -||App Protection||1.0|
|NQ Mobile Security||+ / + / +||+||+||+||+ / + / -||Privacy Advisor, Network Manager, App Manager||1.0|
|Panda Security Mobile Security||+ / + / +||-||-||-||- / + / =||Privacy Auditor, Task Killer||1.0|
|Qihoo 360 MobileSecurity||- / - / -||+||-||+||- / - / -||Privacy Advisor, System Cleanup||1.0|
|Quick Heal Total Security||+ / + / +||+||+||+||+ / + / -||Network Monitor||1.0|
|Sophos Mobile Security||+ / + / +||+||+||+||- / - / +||Privacy Advisor, Security Advisor, App Protection||1.0|
|SPAMFighter VIRUSfighter Android||- / - / -||-||-||-||- / - / -||Security Advisor, Privacy Advisor, App Manager||0.0|
|Symantec Norton Mobile Security||+ / + / +||+||+||+||- / - / -||1.0|
|Tencent Mobile Security Manager||+ / + / +||+||+||-||- / + / -||Network Monitor||1.0|
|Trend Micro Mobile Security||+ / + / +||+||+||+||+ / - / -||1.0|
|TrustGo Mobile Security||+ / + / +||-||-||+||- / + / -||System Manager, Privacy Guard||1.0|
|Webroot SecureAnywhere Mobile||+ / + / +||+||+||+||- / - / -||1.0|
|Zoner Mobile Security||- / - / +||+||+||-||- / + / -||Secure Message, Task Manager||1.0|
Anti-Theft: Remote-Lock / Remote-Wipe / Locate
Call Block: Block calls from specific or unknown numbers
Msg Filter: Filter messages and/or mails for unwanted content
Safe Browse: Protection of malicious websites and/or against phishing
Parent Ctrl: Features to control or observe the activity of children on the device
Backup: Personal data can be saved to SD-card or cloud storage
Crypto: Any kind of encryption is supported (e.g. device encryption, SD-card encryption or VPN)
Next Page: Conclusion
Looking at the 10 products which received perfect 13.0 scores from AV-TEST (Avira, Bitdefender, G Data, Kingsoft, KSMobile Clean Master and CM Security, KSMobile, McAfee, Qihoo, Trend Micro, and TrustGo) and counting features from the feature chart, the best feature sets appear to be from G Data, McAfee and Trend Micro.
G Data Internet Security costs $20.75 and does not appear to have a free option. Google Play says there are 1,000 to 5,000 installs and 143 user reviews give it a 4.0 out of 5. For some reason, Play says it is incompatible with both my Google/Asus Nexus 7 (running KitKat) and my AT&T Samsung Galaxy S4 (running Jelly Bean 4.3).
McAfee Antivirus and Security can be downloaded and installed for free. The premium version costs $29.99 for three devices for one year. Google Play says there are 5 to 10 million installs and 47,729 reviews give it a 4.2 out of 5.
Trend Micro Mobile Security and Antivirus also has a free option. The premium version costs $29.99 and the site says nothing about whether the license covers just one device or more. Google Play says there are 1 to 5 million installs and 17,484 reviews give it a 4.5 out of 5.
From what I see, there's no clear winner here and there are too many variables for a third party like me to tell you that one product is best. But the AV-TEST results and other information on Google Play should give you all you need to make a decision for yourself.