Two-thirds of Android's antivirus apps found to be completely useless

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According to rigorous new tests undertaken by AV-Comparatives, two-thirds of the antivirus apps available for Android devices offer no protection whatsoever. 

In its ongoing mission to offer systemic testing of security software, the independent organization put 250 Android antivirus apps through their paces, finding that all but 80 of them failed to meet even the site's minimum requirements for basic security.

According to the site's 2019 test, less than a third of the apps examined managed to detect at least 30% of 2018's malicious apps with zero false alarms – many of the apps that failed to meet the site's standards regularly found popular genuine (clean) apps to be harmful, and malicious ones to be safe. 

Where did they go wrong?

That ineffectiveness, in large part, stems from the apps not actually scanning code. Many were discovered to be working from outdated and dubious blacklists and whitelists, failing to detect malicious packages if their names sounded like trusted apps (e.g. 'com.facebook' or 'com.whatsapp').

Of course, the apps that did manage to pass with flying colors included many big names from well known and respected antivirus companies, such as Kaspersky Lab, McAfee, Avast, AVG, Trend Micro and Symantec.

For a complete list of the apps that failed and passed AV-Comparatives’ (opens in new tab) latest tests, you can head over to the organization's 2019 results page (opens in new tab)

Stephen Lambrechts
Senior Journalist, Phones and Entertainment

Stephen primarily covers phones and entertainment for TechRadar's Australian team, and has written professionally across the categories of tech, film, television and gaming in both print and online for over a decade. He's obsessed with smartphones, televisions, consoles and gaming PCs, and has a deep-seated desire to consume all forms of media at the highest quality possible. 


He's also likely to talk a person’s ear off at the mere mention of Android, cats, retro sneaker releases, travelling and physical media, such as vinyl and boutique Blu-ray releases. Right now, he's most excited about QD-OLED technology, The Batman and Hellblade 2: Senua's Saga.