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Most extensive test of Android antivirus apps to date shows increase in quantity but not quality

The latest test of Android security apps – believed to be the biggest ever conducted – shows that only one in three provides effective protection. Out of 250 mobile apps tested, the majority were dubious, unsafe or ineffective.

AV-Comparatives have released their report on the biggest-ever test of Android security apps and their effectiveness against Android malware. The independent testing lab put 250 Android AV apps to the test against an array of common threats, and found that some are much more effective than others. Less than 1 in 10 of the apps tested defended against all 2,000 malicious apps, while over two thirds failed to reach a block rate of even 30%.

Although an automated process (developed in co-operation with the University of Innsbruck) was employed, the test used physical Android devices rather than an emulator, in order to ensure the most accurate possible results. Any malware samples not detected in an on-demand scan were installed and run, giving the security programs every opportunity to prove their protective capabilities.

AV-Comparatives’ founder and CEO Andreas Clementi noted, “Although the number of Android security apps on the market has increased since last year, our test shows that a smaller proportion of the available apps will actually provide effective protection. Last year, a third of the security apps we tested failed to detect even 30% of malicious samples; this year, that proportion rose to over two thirds. User ratings in the Google Play Store might show that a security app is easy to use. However, without independent testing, users cannot be sure if its detections are genuine, or whether it has given a clean bill of health to a malicious program. Our test report lets you know which programs will protect your Android device, without false alarms.

As with all AV-Comparatives’ public-test reports, the Android Test Report is available to the public free of charge. You can download it here (PDF). Later this year, we will publish a detailed report and review of some of the more effective and reliable Android security apps.