Android Security

AH Primetime: What is the Best Android Security App – AV-TEST Results

February 11, 2014 - Written By Cory McNutt

If there ever was a time and place for security, it has to be on the smartphone that most of us casually carry around in our pockets every day. We would never think of running our Desktop PC or Laptop without an antivirus program, yet most do not even think about having one on their mobile device. We do this despite the fact that our smartphones constantly connect to the internet (where many viruses are contracted), with and without our knowledge, as our devices are constantly reaching out to the internet to update apps, social media links, news and weather, etc. However, the most scary part is that our smartphones know a lot more about us than our friends or even our spouses! They can have information for our banking institution, credit card numbers, addresses, phone numbers, where we have been, personal pictures, our friends and relatives’ addresses and phone numbers, employment, etc. – literally, a diary of ourselves, sitting right there for someone to hack.

AV-TEST did a recent test of 30 Android security apps and found that 16 out of the 30 detected 100-percent of the malware in their tests, and many more were close to 100-percent – an excellent job overall.  There were a few that had those nasty false-positive results, and two of the applications, Zoner Mobile Security 1.1 and SPAMFighter VIRUSfighter Android 2.1, even failed to meet AV-TEST’s standards for certification. Below is a list of all products tested and their total scores – please remember that ALL versions tested are the most up-to-date available:

Virus Apps 1 Virus Apps 2

The chart below shows the detection rates from 100 to 95, but below is a summary from 100 down to the bottom of the barrel and within each of the percentages, listed alphabetically:

  • 100-percent: Aegislab (*), Ahnlab V3 (*), Anity AVL, Avira, Bitdefender, G Data, Ikarus, Kaspersky, Kingsoft, KSMobile CM, KSMobile CMS, McAfee, Norton, Qihoo 360, Trend Micro, TrustGo
  • 99.0-percent to 99.9-percent: ESET, Anguanjia, Comodo (*), F-Secure, NQ Mobile, Tencent, Webroot
  • 96.8-percent to 98.7-percent: avast!, Panda (*), Quick Heal, Sophos
  • Bringing up the rear: Bornaria (87.3 percent), Zoner (67.5 percent), SPAMFighter (36.1 percent)

(*) Programs with an asterisk means that they had false-positives – Comodo Mobile Security 2.3 exhibited three false positives in the Google Play Store and Panda Security Mobile Security 1.1 exhibited four in Google Play. It is one thing to get a false-positive in a third-party app store, but this many hits in Google Play is disturbing.

Anti-malware  chart

Once we purchase and download a normal application, we expect to open it up and use it, sometimes daily and other times only occasionally.  However, when we install a security program, we expect it to work all of the time and most of all, in the background and out of sight and out of mind.  The only time we want to “hear from it” is when there is a problem that needs our attention or a decision needs to be made by us – delete or quarantine this file, etc.  We especially do not want it to take up our system resources or cause any lag in our day-to-day usage.

Fortunately, only three programs had difficulties in this test, but two of them were popular/big name Apps: Kaspersky Internet Security slows down your device during normal use – a very big no-no, and Symantec Norton Mobile Security generates too much traffic. Below is the complete listing:

Impact of System 1 Impact of System 2 Impact of System 3

The chart below looks at the features of each program – AV-TEST scores them as either a “0” or a “1,” which really does not tell you much about its individual features.  This chart is very useful as you can scan across to see which programs have the most “+” symbols.

Program Features 1 Program Features 2 Program Features 3

If you list the Apps that had a perfect 12/12 score from the protection and usability standpoint we are looking at 10 of the 30 programs: Avira, Bitdefender, G Data, Kingsoft, KSMobile Clean Master and KSMobile CM Security, McAfee, Qihoo, Trend Micro, and TrustGo. If you look over the chart of Program Features and factor those in, the best programs would come down to:

G Data Internet Security – It will cost you $20.75 for 12 months’ worth of protection.  In the Play Store it states: “Contains a 12-month-license including regular virus signature updates, software updates, version upgrades and cloud access.”  It was just updated on January 15 to fix “Issues with license extension” and added a better User Interface.  It falls in the 1,000 – 5,000 download category, 144 users reviewed the App and gave it an overall rating of 4.0 out of 5.0 and had 1,644 Google+ recommendations.  It says that it requires Android 2.1 and up, but it the Play Store tells me it is incompatible with my Samsung Galaxy Note 3 running Android 4.3 Jelly Bean.

McAfee Antivirus & Security can be download for FREE on Google Play, however, in that download you get a free 14-day trial of the “premium” features.  At the end of the free trial you can still use the basic program.  No price is given on Google Play, but searching the web it looks like it will run you $29.99 per year.  This App falls into the 5 -10 million download range, has been reviewed close to 49,000 times with a 4.2 out of 5.0 rating, and Google+ over 64,000 times – definitely a popular App.

Trend Micro Mobile Security & Antivirus also offers a free version and a 30-day free trial of their premium version for $29.99.  This App also falls into the 1-5 million download category, has close to 17,700 reviews with a 4.5 out of 5.0 rating, along with a Google+ of almost 15,500.  This is a full-featured App and offers many ways to protect your device.

There are just too many variables for us to actually recommend one App over the other, especially when so many of them are so close in scores. However, you could not go wrong by one of the last three – look them over on Google Play and check out their UI and features, as well as read some in-depth reviews on each one you are interested in purchasing before you make your decision.