Updated 14th March – latest results from AV-Test included
A few months ago the AV-Test IT Security Institute released a preliminary report on the effectiveness of free Android antivirus scanners. It concluded that popularity appears to offer no reliable indication of a product’s usefulness – many of the free products gave as much protection as a paper bag in a hurricane.
However, the tests only covered 7 free products so missed out popular apps like Lookout Security – and many of the traditional big boys have since released new products.
So it is timely that AV-Test have now released a new report which tested 41 Android antivirus products – including free and paid apps. However, testing for Android malware is still in its infancy and is technically more difficult due to the relative scarcity of malware (compared to the Windows market).
Note also that some apps offer extra features (e.g. anti-theft and recovery) which may be even more important to some mobile users than the actual level of antivirus protection.
AV-Test grouped the 41 products tested into 5 categories based on the percentage of malware they detected:
> 90% of malware – 10 products. Detailed below. Only 3 of these were paid products, the rest were free
> 65% – 13 products. Including apps from AVG, BitDefender, Comodo, ESET, Norton, Trend Micro and Vipre
> 40% – 3 products
> 0% – 13 products. Including the popular (up to 1 million installs) Android Antivirus which crashed several times during the tests. With consummate irony, AV-Test noted that the advertisements worked properly
0% – 2 products
Best Android Antivirus Products
The top products achieving 90%+ detection were (in alphabetical order):
Avast Free Mobile Security
FREE – Available here. Antivirus and Anti-Theft security. User ratings of 4.4 and excellent user interface
Dr Web anti-virus Light
FREE – Available here. Antivirus security. User ratings of 4.5
F-Secure Mobile Security
$39.99 – Available here. For smartphones and tablets. Protect the contents of devices, safe mobile web browsing, assist if device is lost or stolen. 1 of only 2 products (the other was Kaspersky) to achieve > 90% detection for every malware family
IKARUS mobile security Lite
FREE – Available here. Antivirus security. User ratings of 4.3
Kaspersky Mobile Security Lite
FREE – Available here. Antivirus security and Anti-Theft security. 1 of only 2 products (the other was F-Secure) to achieve > 90% detection for every malware family. User ratings of 4.6
Lookout Security & Antivirus
FREE – Available here. Antivirus security, data backup and Find Your Phone security. User ratings of 4.5 – Good result from a mobile specialist
McAfee Mobile Security
$29.99 – Available here. For smartphones and tablets. Security and antivirus, anti loss/theft, data backup and restore, locates and tracks your device. User ratings of 4.3
NQ Mobile Security
FREE – Available here. Antivirus security, backup, privacy and Find Your Phone. User ratings of 4.3
Zoner Antivirus Free
FREE – Available here. Antivirus, phone filtering, Anti-theft. User ratings of 4.4 – Good result from a mobile specialist
The full report is available for download from AV-Test here.
It is difficult to say which is the best Android antivirus app – whilst all the top 10 may offer excellent protection, the clincher for many people will vary depending which added features each app supports and how reliable / lightweight they are. My own preferences are for Avast and Lookout but I have not tried all 10 personally and your own requirements may differ.
The fact that only three paid apps made it into the top 10 is great for hard pressed Android consumers. Certainly their pricing looks difficult to justify compared to the best free products.
The major desktop players have a lot of catching up to do – mobile specialists who were first to see the potential of Android security apps have gained huge traction e.g. Lookout has 10-50m installs. Of the top 10 only Avast comes anywhere close to Lookout’s popularity with 5-10m installs for its free app.
It may be difficult for traditional AV vendors to make further inroads into this market unless their paid apps offer better protection with more added features.