Report Uncovers Fake Android AntiVirus Apps

by: Mike AndriciMarch 6, 2012

Android Malware

A month ago, we were unpleasantly surprised to learn that a report from Juniper Networks Mobile Threat Center showed a 3,325 percent increase in Android malware over 2011. According to the report, Android malware samples increased from 11,138 in 2010 to 28,472 in 2011. And if that wasn’t enough bad news for you, a recent report from digital security firm F-Secure shows how Android malware is now dominating the mobile malware scene, as it overtook both Symbian malware and Pocket PC malware.

As malware popped out, we’ve seen the Android Market being populated with more and more anti-malware apps, up to the point where “uneducated” Android users (remember that around 850,000 new Android devices are activated on a daily basis) could assume that installing any of the so-called anti-malware apps will solve their security problems. Unfortunately though, it seems that, in a similar way to PC antivirus software, many Android security solutions don’t really help with catching and eliminating threats. A fresh report released by independent testing organization AV-Test shows that not all Android security apps perform with equal efficiency. In fact, some of them might not even work at all.

How Efficient are Android Anti-Malware Solutions?

The report classified Android anti-malware apps into several categories. The first group includes the apps that detected north of 90% of the 618 malicious .APK files included in the test. Among them, you’ll recognize names like Avast, Dr. Web, Kaspersky, Ikarus, or F-Secure (all of them also have a desktop counterpart). However, you will also encounter some relatively new names in the anti-malware scene, such as Zoner and Lookout. All of the solutions in this top group are considered “golden” solutions against Android malware.

Android anti-malware chart

The second category is made out of apps that detected between 65 and 90% of the malicious files. According to the report, apps in this category missed a couple of malware families that don’t account as threats under certain environments. As was the case with the “golden” apps, popular AV solutions are included here (AVG, BitDefender, Norton, ESET, Trend Micro, Quickheal, Vipre and Webroot), as well as a couple of Android-only apps such as AegisLab and SuperSecurity. Despite the lower detection-rate (compared to the first category apps), you’ll be quite safe with any of these apps installed.

Stay Away from Fake “Anti-Malware” Apps

The report goes on to list apps that detected a smaller percentage of the malicious files. But the surprising part of the report outed by AV-Test is the fact that there are 6 apps that detected NONE of the threats. These fake Android Anti-Malware apps are: Android Antivirus, Android Defender, LabMSF Antivirus beta, MobileBot Antivirus, MT Antivirus, and MYAndroid Protection Antivirus. If you have one of these installed, you’d better remove them and install one of the apps that detected above 65% of the threats.

How about you? What solution (if any) do you use to protect your Android device? Are you concerned about the rise of Android malware?

Next > Best anti-malware apps for Android

  • elyoy

    I dont use any anti-malware app, better get one fast!!!

    • yeah, with all that nasty stuff out there that’s what we should all do

  • cpc464freak

    The Android O.S. already severely restricts the spread of viruses and there effect on your platform. Malware here really just refers to dodgy apps, just be careful what you download and you don’t need any of these ‘security’ apps.

  • paxmos

    I have yet to hear about paid apps with malicious nature. That said, all my apps are paid versions (I don’t care about the $ amount) for two reasons..One, I hate ads, Two, believe it or not, I feel a bit safer with the paid versions. I also, check the developer reputation before I buy my apps.

  • Be aware of fake antivirus application, get a genuine one here,

  • JW

    I always believe that its always best to be safe than sorry and when it comes to my computer security I have always trusted the best antivirus provided by Quick heal total security. Now I use the same on my new samsung Galaxy note I recently got as a gift from my brother and bhabhi on my birthday. I was advised by my brother to use the mobile security product by quick heal for android mobile phone. I am happy to have bought the software as it costed me less than the scratch guard I brought. effectively 150 Rs per year for secuirity of my android phone is some thing very appealing, I recommend Quick Heal to all who care for their android mobile.

  • Hey nice post….keep posting….you rock :-)
    From my android experience I will also recommend to use “SuppApp”.
    It can connect remotely to your phone via another phone and notifies about Incoming SMS, Calls (Missed, Dialled or Received) through SMS or Email.

  • Gobruce

    I keep lookout ‘free’ going, tried and scanned with AVG and one other free AV app. None of these have ever detected a problem. I just used Avast, and I like it! Had it scan my 16gb sd card (where I keep all my backed up apps, keep most uninstalled until I want to use/play ’em), and it came up with “4 problems”. It defined them as PUP = Potentially Unwanted Program. ‘Tiki Golf 3d Free’ & ‘Running Fighter’. Both were said to have “Android;Plangton-A” as the problem. I hit the “Clear Problem” red button, and Avast took them off, nice as you please. No other AV app has ever detected any problem. My layman computer sense tells me this one’s a keeper. It does more, also sees root, and other things I haven’t explored yet.

  • JMB

    Think of your phone as a device, a smaller tool, on a different platform/ OS (operating system) accessing the world wide web, email, texts and so in, uploading, downloading & streaming data. At times.controlled by the user, more often controlled by the OS, or in our case apps and widgets

    Any owner in their right mind wouldn’t seriously think of connecting their PC or Laptop to the Net without some.form of Internet Security with antivirus protection?

    So the question here is – why wouldn’t you think of providing your smart phone with the same degree of protection?

    It doesn’t matter if you are Apple, Android, Blackberry, Windows based, the same applies to everyone. Be proactive and simply apply common sense.

  • JMB

    My compliments to the author of this post, the article is very informative. I have tried 3 or 4 antivirus apps on my Nexus S, would have loved to.have been able to stick.with ESET as I run this on our PC’s and Laptop at home, but the beta version I tested proved problematic, so I had no choice

    I currently use Dr. Web Light, it updates regularly, runs well, has picked up a few threats so I am.confident it works. This article places it in the “Golden” category which has proven my research and selection to be good.

    For those of you who do not have any form of antivirus protection on your device, your buying time but more importantly, asking for trouble…

  • Lagerfeld

    Well I am confused now. I have a nextbook tablet (model #next8p12) and it is frozen on a screen depicting a pornographic photograph with a headline that says and I quote, “Malware trying to steal browser cache. This may include passwords, images, visited sites and online chats. below is image which was intercepted by Android Defender to prevent stealing. To protect your privacy you need to remove all malware found (15 threats were found)”

  • Cedric Counotte

    Avast might be the first simply because it reports too many apps as malware! The test didn’t verify that those security solutions didn’t detect safe apps! Avast is one of them, easy to get at the top of this tests while reporting everything as malware!

    What surprises me is they keep adding malware to their list of detected threats but you won’t find any single information about any of those threats!