Android raises a lot of questions concerning its security as an operating system, and the plague of malware distributed via Google Play. We observe two extremely opposite opinions on the subject, with Google devotees on one side, and everybody else on the other. The latter camp includes a couple dozen of world renowned security companies with their doomsday warnings about hoards of malicious bits of code penetrating wide strata of devices through Android loopholes and malware integrated with Android apps.
Google camp, however, is utterly and almost genuinely surprised at such proclamations, with Eric Schmidt declaring Android more secure than iOS, which made tech CEOs giggle. Basically, Google prefers to say that there is no such problem, and it is a matter of personal level of awareness about cyber security. Just be sensible about what you download, folks. Android has several layers of protection and the glorious Verify Apps function, which scans downloaded apps during installation, and overall it is a very safe OS.
However, we do have data from the recent research by the Security Company Arxan, stating that the majority of financial apps on Android, and almost a quarter on iOS have been hacked. The prevalent numbers of instances involved hacked legitimate apps being uploaded to Google Play and third-party app stores, with the aim of aggregating user data, or spread malware on devices, or directly harm the app’s developer by removing adware elements most developers profit from.
Google Play does not vet apps developers submit to the store, so basically there is no Android apps Police organ, or any accountability for what hackers do at Google Play whatsoever. Moreover, Verify Apps does not protect your smartphone from catching a virus from your PC. Neither does it protect you against the multitude of other attack vectors, such as malicious websites exploiting Chrome’s gaping security hole, or vulnerabilities in applications like Adobe Acrobat Reader.
Recently, AV-Test.org has conducted an independent malware test on 28 antivirus apps for Android. The tests included a representative set of malware apps discovered within the past four to six weeks, and included some 2.124 samples in total. The findings were not too sad, with the industry’s average malware detection rate being 96.6%, which is even 6% higher than the previous test’s results.
Many of the tested antivirus apps managed to detect 100% of malware the tests threw at them, with only a few false positives. Only two antivirus apps failed to pass.
12 of the 28 tested apps showed a perfect detection rate:
|avast! Mobile Security version 3.0 — Google Play||%100.00|
|Avira Free Android Security version 2.1 — Google Play||%100.00|
|ESET Mobile Security & Antivirus version 2.0 — Google Play||%100.00|
|Ikarus mobile.security version 1.7 — Google Play||%100.00|
|Kaspersky Internet Security version 11.2 — Google Play||%100.00|
|Kingsoft Mobile Security version 3.2 — Google Play||%100.00|
|Trend Micro Mobile Security version 3.5 — Google Play||%100.00|
|TrustGo Mobile Security version 1.3 — Google Play||%100.00|
|NQ Mobile Security version 6.8 — Google Play||%100.00|
|Symantec Norton Mobile Security version 3.7 — Google Play||%100.00|
|Antiy AVL version 2.2 — Google Play||%100.00|
|G Data Internet Security version 25.0 — Google Play||%100.00|
Keep in mind that the majority of the tested antivirus apps are actually suites and include much more than the malware detection feature. Many offer anti theft technology, such as remote control to lock, wipe or locate the device, message filtering, firewalls, backups, parental control options and so much more. So, when you are choosing an antivirus app from Google Play, there are so many factors to consider besides its malware detection performance, you need to spend a good couple of hours doing the research before you choose.
We will be reviewing antivirus apps available on Google Play in dedicated publications, so stay tuned, and let us know your opinion on Android security in the comments below.