Popular free antivirus apps for Android fail anti-malware tests

Popular free antivirus apps for Android fail anti-malware tests

Summary: The latest comparative review of free antivirus applications for Android, courtesy of AV-Test.org, offers an interesting insight into just how effective or ineffective those applications really are.

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TOPICS: Security
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Is free always better then paid, in respect to antivirus software, or does it basically offer a false feeling of security?

The latest comparative review of free antivirus applications for Android, courtesy of AV-Test.org, offers an interesting insight into just how effective or ineffective those applications really are.

The researchers tested the following free antivirus applications against 10 widely spread malicious apps.

  • Antivirus Free
  • BluePoint Antivirus Free
  • GuardX Antivirus
  • Kinetoo Malware Scan
  • LabMSF Antivirus beta
  • Privateer Lite
  • Zoner AntiVirus Free

and two commercial antivirus apps offered by F-Secure Mobile Security and Kaspersky Mobile Security.

The findings?

The scanned test set contained 83 Android installation packages (APK) and 89 Dalvik binaries (DEX). No files were older than 5 months. The best results claimed the products of Kaspersky and F-Secure, which detected at least 50% of all malware samples already in inactive state. The best free app was Zoner AntiVirus Free with 32% detected malicious apps. All other scanners detected at best 10% of the apps, some didn’t detect anything at all.

BluePoint AntiVirus Free, Kinetoo Malware Scan and Privateer Lite still warned against one malicious app. Antivirus Free by Creative Apps, GuardX Antivirus and LabMSF Antivirus beta failed completely.

Was the test a complete overview of the market for free Android-based antivirus applications? Not at least according to MSNBC since it failed to include the following applications in the test - AVG Antivirus Free, BitDefender Mobile Security, Lookout Mobile Security, and Norton Mobile Security.

What do you think? Does free antivirus software offer a false feeling of security?

Talkback.

Topic: Security

Dancho Danchev

About Dancho Danchev

Dancho Danchev is an independent security consultant and cyber threats analyst, with extensive experience in open source intelligence gathering, malware and cybercrime incident response.

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Talkback

21 comments
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  • RE: Popular free antivirus apps for Android fail anti-malware tests

    I have used Zoner AntiVirus and I can say - It's the best security app for free.
    milan32
    • RE: Popular free antivirus apps for Android fail anti-malware tests

      @milan32
      Really? Why?
      Because it tells you that you're safe (Apple model)?
      Or because it actually did something to protect you (what did it do/find)?
      use_what_works_4_U
  • Dear moderator

    If a comment which fully conforms to the ZDNet comment policy is flagged, the person that flagged the comment should be banned. Not the poster. If you want to run a popularity contest for comments at ZDnet, then provide posters with up and down votes for each individual comment.<br><br>That is all.
    Rabid Howler Monkey
    • I agree. It seems that someone (or a few people)

      @Rabid Howler Monkey
      don't want anything negative said about their company of choice, so they're flagged.
      I like your idea
      William Farrell
    • RE: Popular free antivirus apps for Android fail anti-malware tests

      @Rabid Howler Monkey Agreed! The trifling little fanbois who flag every comment that offends them because it is derogatory towards their company of choice need to be the ones banned. It's one thing to disagree with someone's post but unless someone's post violates guidelines (like all the spam posts with the suspicious links) then don't flag it because you don't like what the poster says.
      athynz
    • RE: Popular free antivirus apps for Android fail anti-malware tests

      @Rabid Howler Monkey

      [i]If a comment which fully conforms to the ZDNet comment policy is flagged, the person that flagged the comment should be banned. Not the poster. [/i]

      Flagging comments in itself is not a violation of our TOS, after all everyone has a different opinion on what they may or may not consider offensive.

      On the other hand, if a flagger starts flagging needlessly over and over for no other reason than they believe so and so flagged their comments first, and turn it into a flagging war. Than one is wasting my time, the time of my team, and [b]that[/b] is a violation, as it is abusing our services, as we could be spending that time combating comments that do warrant removal (such as spam).

      On a side note, just because a comment is flagged, does not mean it will be removed. Every single comment is manually reviewed. No comments are removed auto - a person must push a button. The only exception is replies to a comment that was removed. When a comment is removed that has replies, them replies are also removed auto (leaving them behind would make it too confusing as without the orginial comment, the reply would make no sense)

      [i]If you want to run a popularity contest for comments at ZDnet, then provide posters with up and down votes for each individual comment.[/i]

      Afraid popularity has no bearing on whether or not someones comment(s) are removed or not. Even our own bloggers are not immune and have found themselves on the end of having their comment(s) removed.

      Stay tuned.. we do have some new features in the works, which we are sure you will like :-)

      - Tammy Cavadias
      Community Manager
      tcavadias
    • RE: Popular free antivirus apps for Android fail anti-malware tests

      @tcavadias Thank you for your informative reply. I'm happy to hear that flagged comments are manually reviewed for conformance with ZDNet's comment policy.

      I look forward to seeing what the new features you mention might be. :)
      Rabid Howler Monkey
  • As a programmer of Zoner AnTiVirus Free (if you believe me):

    That there are threats to Android phones is a fact, not fiction. Yes, you are relatively safe if you watch your permissions and use only Android Market, but have you never installed something from RapidShare? Have you never given CALL or SMS permissions to a game (Gameloft does that all the time)?

    There have been apps on the Market that were malicious, that is a confirmed fact, so why do people tend to say that there is no threat on Android is beyond me.

    Also Most AV software (not only Zoner, sure) provide more, like SMS/call blocking capabilities which also helps security.

    And as for those 32%, we do not actually scan DEX files that are not installable, so those 32% are actually 64% of what we scanned - APK files.
    Jaromir Smrcek
  • RE: Popular free antivirus apps for Android fail anti-malware tests

    I'm glad to see Lookout Mobile Security wasn't on the list for apps that failed. I've been using it for 2+ years now and so far no viruses; at least that I'm aware of.
    Bob B.
  • RE: Popular free antivirus apps for Android fail anti-malware tests

    For those of us who are new to the platform how about an article that lists the best of the anti malware apps for Android. This is the second or third post I've seen that lists the ones that are not effective, give us some idea as to the ones that are effective.
    athynz
    • RE: Popular free antivirus apps for Android fail anti-malware tests

      @Pete "athynz" Athens
      Good point!
      glennmcc64
    • RE: Popular free antivirus apps for Android fail anti-malware tests

      @Pete "athynz" Athens Yeah, I'm actually thinking of getting that new Motor razor droid and would like some of this info upfront.....
      Rapid Rec
    • RE: Popular free antivirus apps for Android fail anti-malware tests

      @Pete "athynz" Athens How aboht hearing from real people who have had malware problems? That's what's missing from all the articles about threats - first person testimony of threats, what damage they did, where they came from.
      And please not social-engineering scams.
      radleym
  • RE: Popular free antivirus apps for Android fail anti-malware tests

    The apps that he posted, who uses them? No one I know,
    Samuel Rodrigues
  • RE: Popular free antivirus apps for Android fail anti-malware tests

    Just like for a computer, it's a PEBKAC thing: problem exists between keyboard and chair.

    As for a smartphone, I'd probably give it an acronym: problem exists for someone holding a smartphone, or PEFSHS.

    For a desktop, laptop, and a smartphone, I will only rely on antivirus as a last line of defense. I don't install mobile applications a lot lately; just applications that I will only need and that's about it. I wanted Sprint's WebCapTel in the LG Optimus V, but it requires Adobe AIR, which is incompatible with my smartphone. WebCapTel is an Internet-based captioned telephone service designed for the hearing impaired. You can hear them over the phone as well as read text as they speak to you. In that case, my smartphone gets rarely used unless I'm not at home.
    Grayson Peddie
  • RE: Popular free antivirus apps for Android fail anti-malware tests

    I would like to see Lookout tested. Also ESET Mobile is free for the time being. I tested it over the thanksgiving weekend. Thats another trusted AV name.
    Nate_K
    • RE: Popular free antivirus apps for Android fail anti-malware tests

      @Nate_K
      I agree 100% If it isn't on this list...Is it OK? Both Lookout and ESET are well known brands and well as the others listed by MSNBC. Not certain how helpful this study is unless the intent was to just frighten Android users. Many will come from this believing there is nothing they can do. At least a list of the "Best" AV Apps could have been included. The first line of defense and I believe the best is an educated user base.
      WKCook
  • RE: Popular free antivirus apps for Android fail anti-malware tests

    In my group of friends who use Android, Lookout in by far the most common. Not including it is a gross failure. It makes me think he only included one which failed in hopes of implying some weakness in using Android. Now let's see what could be a motivation for that?
    randmart
  • RE: Popular free antivirus apps for Android fail anti-malware tests

    Had Google done things right, Android wouldn't have this garbage floating around its environment. Android is literally the Wild West of operating systems, and that scares me.
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
  • RE: Popular free antivirus apps for Android fail anti-malware tests

    I would have to agree with MSNBC. I've never used the free ones listed in this article, but I have used Lookout and am currently using Bitdefender. I would rather hear the results of those, because although they do have paid versions, the free ones seemed to work fine for me.
    duchovny