Few Strong Android Malware Scanners

Thursday, March 8, 2012 @ 02:03 PM gHale

Two-thirds of Android anti-malware scanners do not protect against a range of malware in independent tests.

Security and anti-virus researcher AV-Test Institute tested 41 different virus scanners for Android. Almost two-thirds of these scanners are not yet suitable for use as reliable products, identifying less than 65 percent of the 618 types of malware tested.

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Packages that detected more than 90 percent of the Android malware thrown at them included Droid security software from Avast, Dr Web, F-Secure, Ikarus, Kaspersky, Zoner and Lookout, according to AV-Test.

Products that picked up more than 65 but less than 90 per cent of Android malware included applications from established desktop players (AVG, Bitdefender, ESET, Norton/Symantec, QuickHeal, Trend Micro, Vipre/GFI and Webroot) and a couple of mobile specialists (AegisLab and Super Security), according to AV-Test.

Android security products from Bullguard, Comodo, G Data, McAfee, NetQin and Total Defense fell into the third range (detection of between 40 to 65 percent). AV-Test said these products generally provided reliable malware protection against a few families, but fell down elsewhere.

A fourth group of Android security products provided detection rates of less than 40 percent – basically completely unreliable. These products, none of which came from recognized security vendors, generally failed to react even when smartphone users opened a well-known Android Trojan, much less detecting anything amiss during a regular scan.

The findings are interesting because of the growth in malware (largely Trojans) targeting Android devices over the last year or so. Threats for Android smartphones include phishing Trojans, banking Trojans, spyware, bots, SMS fraud Trojans, premium dialers and fake installers.

AV-Test said there were more than 11,000 strains of Android malware, a figure that continues to grow. The figure only crossed over the 2,000 mark at the end of October 2011. That’s still a tiny fraction of the 10-million-plus Windows malware strains out there, but Android malware is well on track to exceed the volume of those hitting Macs.

“The popularity of the Android system has led to a huge increase in the distribution of Android malware,” said Andreas Marx, chief executive of AV-Test. “This malware is mainly distributed in markets operated by third parties, but even the Google Android Market cannot guarantee that all of its listed applications do not contain any threats.”

Malware detection of free and paid-for Android scanners from the same vendor was the same. Paid-for Android security suites tend to bundle extra features beyond a basic anti-malware scanner, such as application permission control.

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