There seems to be two extreme opinions about malware on Android. At one end is the clarion call of the security companies and their doomsday warnings about the thousands of malicious bits of malware that are flying around in the ether. At the other extreme are those who say “never been a problem, just be sensible about what you download.” The truth, as is so often the case, is somewhere in between the two. Google has done great work to increase the layers of protection offered by Android and the Verify Apps function, which scans all apps as they are being installed regardless of the source, makes Android fairly safe. In fact earlier this year, Google’s executive chairman and former CEO Eric Schmidt declared that Android is more secure than the iPhone.
What Verify Apps can’t protect you against is transporting PC or Mac malware on your device or protect you from other attack vectors such as malicious websites or files designed to exploit vulnerabilities in apps like Adobe’s Acrobat Reader.
Recently the independent malware test lab AV-Test.org tested 28 Android antivirus apps against a representative set of malicious apps discovered in the previous month. The testing, which used 2,124 samples in total, discovered that the industry average detection rate is now 96.6 percent, some 6 percent higher than when it last performed such testing. Many of the apps managed to detect 100 percent of the malware and overall there were only a few false positives and only two apps failed to get certification.
It is also worth pointing out that many of the antivirus apps available from the Play Store are in fact security suites and they offer much more than just malware detection. Among the extras are anti-theft features like remote lock/wipe/locate, message filtering, backup, firewalls, parental control functions and so on. This means if you are going to install a security app, make sure it is good at finding malware and it offers the extra features you need.
So what is your verdict? Do you use an antivirus app on your device?