Android, antivirus are useless

According to research by AV-Comparatives, antivirus for Android are almost all useless because they don't do their job. Here are the test results

Protecting your smartphone with an antivirus to avoid infections by viruses, malware, Trojans and other malicious code is now a priority and no longer an option. But, at the same time, the vast majority of free antivirus for Android downloadable from the Google Play Store would be almost totally useless. This is what emerges from the latest comparison of antivirus for Android carried out by AV-Comparatives.

The site, which specializes in comparisons between security software for mobile devices and Windows and Mac desktops, already in 2017 launched the first alarm about the uselessness of a software, called Virus Shield, which claimed to look for viruses on smartphones but did nothing of the sort. The 2019 version of the comparative, the results of which were recently published, expands to as many as 250 security apps on Android and the results are shocking: 70% of these software, about 170 apps, serve absolutely no purpose but were released only to show advertisements and banners to the user who installs these apps.

How Fake Antivirus for Android Works

Based on the uselessness of these 170 antivirus for Android is their working mechanism: instead of thoroughly scanning the app code and document data on the smartphone, they just check if the installed apps are on a blacklist of potentially infected apps. Stop, nothing else. This is also the reason for the high performance of this software: just by comparing the installed apps with a list of apps, it takes a few seconds to finish the "scan", if we can call it that. Moreover, these apps all have practically identical interfaces, the same options and the same monetization mechanism: they're free, but they fill you with banner ads.

Results of the 2019 Android Antivirus Comparison

To run the comparison on the 250 antivirus apps, AV-Comparatives ran a total of 500 thousand tests, making these apps scan no less than 2,000 well-known malware. A good "real" antivirus would find 90-100% of them. Of the 250 apps, only 23% recognized 100% of the malware, while 138 apps recognized less than 30%. A threshold, that of 30% of recognized viruses and malware, which for AV-Comparatives marks without a doubt the uselessness of the apps in question. The tests were run in January 2019 in an automated manner, largely on a Samsung Galaxy S9 running Android 8.0 Oreo.