Free Anti-Malware Services for Android Failing Tests

AV-TEST has released a report claiming that not all free antivirus solutions found on the Android Market will actually protect consumer devices.

The company came to this conclusion after testing seven "freeware" applications ranging from Antivirus Free by Creative Apps to Zoner AntiVirus Free by Zoner. Out of this group, Zoner's solution gave the best performance, detecting 8 out of 10 malware upon installation, and 55 out of 172 during a manual scan. That's right: that was the best performance out of seven free anti-malware apps.

"The results of the real-time guard functionality were quite shocking," the report states. "The guard should warn the user upon installation of malicious apps. The 10 malware samples were chosen with the help of AV-TEST's own analysis system, which uses more than 30 virus scanners to analyze the APK files. The test set contains the 10 files, which were most often classified as malware by the virus scanners. Because of the high detection rates these files can be considered as well known and should therefore be detected by a reliable virus-scanner. Did the vendors of mobile security apps know them, too?"

According to the test results, Antivirus Free by Creative Apps, GuardX Antivirus and LabMSF Antivirus beta failed to detect malware upon installation. BluePoint AntiVirus Free, Kinetoo Malware Scan and Privateer Lite still warned against one malicious app. In comparison to the free apps, the commercial products of F-Secure and Kaspersky unsurprisingly detected all threats without a problem.

To put this problem in perspective, the report points out that the most popular free malware suite of the group is Antivirus Free by Creative Apps with 1,000,000 to 5,000,000 installations, yet it doesn't offer "reliable" protection. The only free product found to be useful, Zoner AntiVirus Free, has only 50,000 to 100,000 users.

"The circulation of obviously near to useless security apps endangers those who trust them and install apps from 3rd party app markets without further auspiciousness," AV-TEST claims in its report.

AV-TEST conducted its test using a Samsung Galaxy Tab and Google's Android 2.2.1 "Froyo" OS. The products were downloaded and installed through the Android Market, and had to prove their functionality in on-demand-scanning and the detection of 10 widely spread malicious apps. The scanned test set contained 83 Android installation packages (APK) and 89 Dalvik binaries (DEX). No files were older than 5 months.

To read the full report provided by AV-TEST, check out the PDF file here.

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  • I wish they had included AVG Free.
  • Oh well, it seems that we have to pay to secure our data, nothing new here. The anti-malware product companies will make an honest buck thanks to the not "so" honest malware.
    This market just began expanding, and I bet it looks like a fresh, ripe fruit for the taking, because of the increasing usage of the smartphones(and now we buy stuff directly from the device too).
    I'm willing to pay the price if it guarantees my device will be secured. What do you guys think? Is it worth it throwing a couple of bucks/euros for your safety, and if so how much?
  • I think its typical of Apps. Even with Apple's store. Their is a lot of free junk out there. Just ask yourself a question. How will a free Anti Virus app work? Who is going to spend time updating virus definitions for a "free" app? Unless its a app from a reputable paid anti virus service? Actually why does Android need Anti Virus? If Google would be more diligent about its Apps being virus free. Their would be a whole lot less concern over viruses.