Most Android antivirus apps in the Google Play Store fail to provide users with adequate malware protection, according to a study by AV-Comparatives.
The Austrian antivirus test company downloads 250 anti-malware apps from various developers on the Google Play Store. The apps were then checked to determine if they could protect against the 2000 most common malicious software for Android, through AV Comparative's automatic test frames.
The tests were mostly performed on Samsung Galaxy S9 devices on Android 8.0, but as some apps did not work properly with that configuration, they were instead tested on Nexus 5 devices on Android 6.01
Unfortunately it wasn't. Of the 250 Android antivirus apps that participated in the study, only 23 were able to detect and block 100 percent of the malware samples. The apps include the Android security apps we recommended a year ago, Avast Mobile Security, Avira Antivirus Security, AVG, Sophos Mobile Security and Trend Micro Mobile Security and Antivirus.
AV Comparatives showed that 80 out of 250 apps could detect over 30 percent of malware, with zero erroneous alarms. The study also found that antivirus software from 138 vendors blocked less than 30 percent of malware samples or had high erroneous alarm rates on clean files from the Google Play store. There were also 16 apps that were not properly migrated to Android 8, which reduced their protection capabilities on devices running newer versions of Android.
The test company flagged many antivirus programs that used a black list approach to label potentially malicious code, which is easily bypassed by malware creators. They did not scan downloaded downloaded malware apps, which is what a legitimate antivirus app should do.