1. Testing Android AV is a lot more difficult than on PCs – which may account for the one year delay and the lack of testing by other organizations.
2. Popularity of an app appears to offer little reliable indication of its usefulness.
3. Unlike their desktop counterparts, commercial (paid) products often lag well behind free apps in terms of effective security – out of 41 products tested, only three paid apps made it into the top 10.
So has anything changed in the last year?
New Report For Jan 2013 Tests – 22 Android antivirus apps were tested. AV-Test state that they only reviewed products which were submitted by their vendors to this test – more Android apps will follow in the second test which will be published in April.
The results have been scored on 2 levels (both out of 6) – for Protection and for Usability. [Note that some apps offer extra features (e.g. anti-theft and recovery) which may be more important to mobile users than the actual level of antivirus protection]
The top 7 of the 22 products scored 5.0 or more for Protection and 5.0 or more for Usability. In order (by level of Protection) they are:
TrustGo: Mobile Security
FREE – available here. Scored 6.0 and 6.0 – popular app with user ratings of 4.7, includes data backup and device protection.
FREE – available here. Scored 6.0 and 5.5 – new app with user ratings of 4.3 (very few installs yet).
Lookout: Antivirus & Security
FREE – available here. Scored 5.5 and 6.0 – the popular app with user ratings of 4.5, includes find my phone, backup and restore.
Bitdefender: Mobile Security
FREE – available here. Scored 5.5 and 6.0 – user ratings of 4.4, many options are paid extras.
Trend Micro: Mobile Security
FREE – available here. Scored 5.0 and 6.0 – user ratings of 4.3, no ads, many paid extras.
Symantec/Norton: Mobile Security
FREE – available here. Scored 5.0 and 6.0 – user ratings of 4.4, find your device, scans SD cards, paid extras.
Avast: Mobile Security
FREE – available here. Scored 5.0 and 5.0 – the popular app with user ratings of 4.7, antitheft, webshield, privacy report, firewall (needs Root).
Comparison to 2012 – This time around, all of the top 7 rated apps are ostensibly free versions – at least for virus detection and scanning. The well known names from the Desktop AV market typically charge for Premium versions with a host of extra features – but many of these are included by default in free apps such as Lookout and Avast.
From this year’s top 7, Avast and Lookout also appeared in last year’s top 10 so they have maintained their strong levels of protection. Apps which were in last year’s top 10 but have slipped out of the top 7 this year include the following (with their new 2013 Protection scores) – Dr. Web (4.5), F-secure Paid (3.5), Ikarus (2.5), Kaspersky Paid (4.0) and NQ Mobile (4.5).
It’s notable that the only two paid apps have dropped way down the Protection pecking order. The full report is available from AV-Test here – use the Protection or Usability column headings at the top to sort by ratings.
Just as in the desktop market, it pays to review how well your Android antivirus app performs – at least annually. The levels of protection offered may improve or decline greatly over time as updates are (or are not) made – both in absolute terms and relative to the competition.