How effective are Android AV solutions?

As the onslaught of Android malware continues, the recently released testing results by independent IT-security institute AV-Test show that most providers of Android antivirus software have considerably improved the efficacy of their offerings.

There are a few exceptions, such as the SPAMfighter’s VIRUSfighter Android and Zoner’s Mobile Security, who have failed spectacularly on the protection front. But most of the solutions performed better that a few months before, and some have even gotten the maximum score when it comes both to protection and usability.

The increase in effectiveness is all the more impressive if you consider that the number of malware samples used to test the solutions has also been increased from 1,460 in September to 2,124 in November.

Also, the question of whether it’s best to pick up a free security solution or one for which you’ll have to pay has been answered: there’s not much difference between the two types when it comes to protection. In fact, you pay for additional security features (encryption, backup, safe browsing, etc.)

But there is one thing that is rarely spoken of when Android solutions are evaluated, and it’s the fact that Android AV solutions aren’t capable of performing as successfully as Windows AV solutions.

In fact, as AV-Test CEO Andreas Marx shared with The Register, Android AV solutions are all running in a sandbox, and are incapable to remove found malicious apps automatically.

“They have to alert the user and hope that the user is able to uninstall them manually, using the usual Android uninstall routine,” explained Simon Edwards, the chairman of the Anti-Malware Testing Standards Organization.

In fact, only Google has the ability to automatically remove malware from infected devices. The company has used this kill-switch in the past, but only when a malicious app managed to get into Google Play.

Rooting your Android device might help with this problem, but will also give rise to other, more serious ones.

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