Android prides itself on the freedom inherent in its open-source software, and rightly so, but that freedom comes with a price. It’s no secret that Android devices are much more susceptible to malware than other mobile platforms, and users have to be vigilant with their downloads in order to avoid the worst offenders. One of the steps one might reasonably take would be to download any of the free anti-malware apps available in the various Android app stores, but according to a recent report conducted by AVTest in Germany, to do so would prove “almost completely useless.”
AVTest reports that “the results of the real-time guard functionality were quite shocking.” (PDF download) Most of the free malware detection apps – including Antivirus Free, the most highly rated app in its class – had at a depressing 0% detection rate. In fact, of all the free anti-malware apps available on the market, the best of them only managed to detect 32% in a manual scan. In other words, the most effective free anti-malware app available for Android still lets 68% of the malicious software through to the device it’s trying to infect.
For the most part, the reviews on the web pages for these various apps still don’t reflect the results of AVTest’s report. There are, however, lessons here for users and developers alike. For developers, it’s tempting to think that an app that doesn’t perform as advertised can still garner as many as a million downloads, but is it worth staking the reputation of one’s company on a defective mobile app?
It’s no secret that Android users are notoriously skittish when it comes to paying for the apps they download, but where the security of one’s mobile device and the reams of personal data it’s likely to store are at issue, it’s worth doing your homework and spending a little more in order to rest assured that you’re safe and sound, digitally speaking. Old adages are generally repeated for a reason, and none are older nor truer than this: You get what you pay for.