Google Play Store Brimming with Unreliable Anti-virus Apps
Independent testing agency AV-Comparatives has recently published the results of an enlightening study into Android security products. Examining 250 Android-based security products, the study assessed whether products available in the Google Play store could protect against 2,000 of the most common Android threats.
AV-Comparatives deems an anti-virus product ineffective and unsafe if it fails to block at least 30% of the most common threats. Of the 250 security products tested, only 80 passed this test.
It was discovered that some security apps were not searching for malicious code. Instead, they were simply cross-referencing package names with a list of approved and disallowed packages. As a result, attackers are able to circumvent security walls by simply renaming their malicious apps.
It gets worse…
The most ridiculous discovery was that some anti-virus apps flagged themselves as malicious software. This happened in cases where the developers had forgotten to add their own software to the approved anti-virus product lists.
Although many of these anti-virus apps were found to be unsafe, they all had notably similar interfaces. Also, despite being ineffective, many had four- or five-star reviews in the Google Play Store. These Google Play Store reviews are misleading, encouraging users to download Android anti-virus products that may be untrustworthy.
A few reliable products
Of the 250 tested products, only 23 succeeded in correctly detecting 100% of the malware samples. Bitdefender Mobile Security, for example, achieved a perfect score and caused no false positives.
The products that proved most reliable came from well-known firms. Many of these companies have been operating in the industry for years.
Android users are, therefore, recommended to choose security products developed by well-recognized brands. As well as being independently tested, these companies will have professional websites, privacy policies and customer support services. Users should also be able to try before they buy. Generally, free trial periods will be available.
Don’t be fooled
Although an anti-virus app may be in the Google Play Store, it may not be reliable. Stick to brands you know, but be aware that some fraudsters masquerade as reputable businesses to trick Android users. Remember, reviews can be misleading. They may be real, they may be misinformed or they may even be fake. Read them but don’t rely on them. To be sure that you’re downloading the right app, get it directly from the developer’s website.