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Spotlight on Security: AV-Comparatives offers advice on choosing Android AV apps

This blogpost offers users assistance in selecting a suitable antivirus product for the Android platform. Eight of this year’s products qualified for certification, by reaching a malware protection rate of at least 99%, with less than 10 false positives, and a battery drain of less than 8%. In the Android 2021 test report, AV-Comparatives gives an overview of the general security-related components, which are summarised in the additional feature list. 

Anti Malware: includes a function to scan against malicious apps 

This feature is the only one required for AV-Comparativescertification. When using and storing apps and files on external storage (e.g. SD card), it is recommended to make sure that the AV product supports scanning of external media. It should also be noted that with some AV products, scanning requires an active Internet connection. AV products may also support stalkerware detection. More information on stalkerware detection on Android can be found here (PDF).

Anti-Theft: includes remote functions in case the smartphone is lost or stolen 

An anti-theft function with location tracking is already built into current versions of the Android operating system, but is also additionally offered by AV products. The anti-theft function makes it possible to reset the smartphone. The alarm function, for locating the smartphone or deterring a thief, should ideally only be controllable remotely. Optional is the activation of the front camera, and the automatic locking of the smartphone when the SIM card is changed. 

Safe Browsing: includes a web-filter function to block dangerous websites 

The anti-malware and anti-phishing protection features are often only implemented for certain browsers. Each AV product has its preferences as to which browser apps are supported. 

App Audit: contains functions for controlling installed apps 

The app audit feature, which provides information about permissions, mobile data usage, usage time, battery consumption and memory usage of individual apps, can be easier to use in AV products than in the operating system itself. 

App Lock: contains a function to prevent unauthorised access to installed apps 

An app-lock function for directly locking apps is helpful to protect sensitive app content or system settings from unauthorised access. 

The right AV product for each person’s own smartphone should reflect the user’s own demands and technical requirements. If these are met, a trial version can often be used to test the product before purchase. Independent tests by AV-Comparatives provide useful guidance for selecting certified products.