Android antivirus apps may be lying to the very people they were created to protect. New research run by Comparitech tested twenty-one Android antivirus programs. Nearly half of them failed testing, and one even revealed a security flaw that allowed potential hackers direct access to a user's address book. Antivirus apps have seen a rise in popularity because of the number of potential risks to mobile users. Exploits of major software combined with free use of insecure WiFi can lead to infection and possible exploitation by malware or malicious users. For most average users, the risks of using these networks should be offset by their use of anti-malware applications. Sadly, these applications don't function as advertised in most cases.
Most Android Phones are Vulnerable
According to the University of Cambridge, at 87% of all Android handsets are exposed to at least one critical vulnerability. It's because of these inherent flaws that users depend on antivirus systems to protect them. With more and more users storing credit card and banking information on their phones, having a secure device is of the utmost importance. The rise of mobile payment systems only makes the need for fully functional antivirus systems critical for users of the Android device ecosystem.
How Good Are Android Antiviruses?
An Australian company called AV-Comparatives tested a series of antiviruses to see how well they detected known threats, and the results they received were beyond appalling. Out of a total of 250 Android applications that claim to protect users from malware and viruses, only 21 of them had a 100% detection rate for malicious threats. That is less than 10%! As a small consolation, 32% of the apps had a correct diagnosis for 30% of the risks they scanned.
What DO Anti-Malware Apps Do?
As the testing by AV-Comparatives notes, many of the android applications tasked with detecting and stopping malware didn't function, but why was that the case? Insight from the report demonstrated that many of the applications don't scan running applications on the handset but work on a whitelist/blacklist system. Some of the apps only check the filename of the installed apk file to determine if the application is potential malware. A simple change to the filename could bamboozle these antimalware applications into allowing dangerous apps access to the data on a user's handset.
Where should a User Seek Protection
It can be a difficult task to determine whether an application is worth installing. Many applications pay reviewers to leave positive reviews on the app store listing, and others write the reviews themselves. The first thing that a user should guarantee his or her safety is to ensure that the handset's security settings aren't changed. From there, installing apps that have proven themselves to be good antimalware choices is the safest option. CloudWedge notes that Express VPN is said to be one of the safest VPN providers around and MalwareBytes for Android provides excellent user protection.