• These apps detected only a handful of malware samples and other malicious instances on Android devices.
  • The study was carried out on 250 anitvirus security apps from the Google Play Store.

A new study by an antivirus-testing firm has revealed an astonishing number of security apps that do not perform as they claim to. According to AV-Comparatives which conducted this test on 250 security apps from Google Play Store, most of them were either unreliable or had a faulty software implementation.

In their findings, the firm also emphasized that many redundant apps had been developed by entities with no specific focus on security.

The big picture

  • The automated test considered 2000 Android malware threats that were common in 2018. Additionally, 100 safe files were also included.
  • Over 500,000 test runs were performed for the study. The test also featured a basic false-alarm task to check if security apps label every app as malicious.
  • Out of 250 apps which were tested, only 80 detected more than 30 percent of malware that was handed to them.
  • Among them, most of the apps had detection rates faring between 90 to 100 percent.
  • On the other hand, 138 apps detected less than 30 percent of malware samples and displayed false alarms for safe files.
  • The remaining 32 apps have been removed from Play Store as these apps were identified as ‘Potentially Unwanted Applications’.

Not just ineffective but risky - The test report mentioned that these ineffective apps were likely dangerous.

“A number of the above apps have in the meantime already been detected either as Trojans, dubious/fake AVs, or at least as “potentially unwanted applications” (PUA) by several reputable mobile security apps. It is to be expected that Google will remove most of them from the Google Play Store in the coming months (and hopefully enhance their verification checks, thus blocking other such apps from the store),” the AV-Comparatives’ blog indicated.

Why user ratings may not mean much - The firm has also suggested mobile users to avoid blindly trusting the user ratings or availability of latest updates for the AV app to determine the effectiveness of the app.

Instead, it has advised users to try out AV apps before buying them, along with checking relevant factors such as privacy policy, app permissions, and developer information.

Cyware Publisher