AV test lab examines Android security programs
The AV-Comparatives test lab has examined 13 security programs for Android smartphones. The study found that all of the test candidates offer reliable protection against 75 virus families; detection rates were always at least 93 per cent. In total, the experts unleashed more than 18,000 infected apps on the test devices. None of the security programs produced any false alarms; however, testing involved only 200 widely used benign apps.
According to the researchers, the installed security apps didn't affect smartphone battery life: all candidates reduced battery life by less than two per cent. Notable differences were found in the programs' recognition of advertisement-funded apps (adware): Bitdefender, Eset, F-Secure, Qihoo 360, Trend Micro, TrustGo and Webroot offered the most reliable adware warnings in the test, while Avast, Ikarus, Kaspersky, McAfee and Sophos only recognised a few of the adware families. Lookout has moved the adware detection feature to a dedicated Ad Network Detector.
Further discernible differences were found in the security programs' pricing: while most tested apps are currently available for no charge, McAfee's Mobile Security was found to be the most expensive test candidate – the program incurs an annual fee of €30 (£23.70).
Major variations were also found in the programs' range of features: almost all of the apps offer anti-virus protection, remote locking (in case of theft) and GPS location, but components such as an SMS/MMS scanner, firewall or online backup feature were only available with a few of them. Many of the apps allow users to remotely wipe the data that is stored on a smartphone in case of theft; however, the experts often managed to retrieve the deleted files using a data recovery tool.
AV-Comparatives recommends that users choose their security programs according to the features and components they require. A full comparison chart can be found in the report. If virus protection is the only thing required, users should think about whether they can do without such programs altogether – according to AV-Comparatives, the danger of infecting an unrooted smartphone with malware via official app catalogues is still relatively small in Western countries; this is consistent with what The H's associates at heise Security have observed. In Asia, on the other hand, the risk is generally higher, and downloading apps from unofficial download sites ("side loading") also carries a higher infection risk.