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Over 40 Android Anti-Virus Apps Tested, Only 7 Have Malware Detection Rate of Over 90%

As Android is growing across the globe and reports of malware scares reportedly rise, mobile security companies are making sure that consumers are aware and that they would like them to be concerned. To make the situation seem worse, the number of Android apps and daily Android activations are growing by record numbers, so it’s only natural that these reports of malware detection would increase. That’s where we get a new Android security player to review on the daily. 

A company by the name of AV-TEST has taken this growth in Android security apps quite seriously and has published a rather large report on which of them are actually effective and worth your time. After looking at over 40, they were left with the following seven applications, who were the only ones able to catch over 90% of malware loaded onto test devices:

  • Lookout Mobile
  • Kaspersky
  • Avast!
  • Dr. Web
  • F-Secure
  • Zoner Anti-Virus

The graph below shows the list of all apps used in the tests and the various hit and misses for each app:

See your choice on the top of the list? If not, maybe it’s time to think about switching up security services. As a friendly reminder, you should always install apps from only trusted sources and check the app’s permission list before installing them. Stay safe, folks.


Cheers Li-Lun!

  • RichardTheHijackAHijacker.

    Also is anyone familiar with the bcool extension if so please tell me? thanks!

  • RichardTheHijackAHijacker.

    I do not need to worry because I have 5 different antiviruses on my android, just to be on the safe side.
    the thing is im prone to getting viruses on my computer and getting hijacked from the web (good job I learned how to hijack a hijacker), and speak of the devil guess what just popped up ‘idle time scan has found 2 threats, back-door graybird, and bcool extension.
    hmm… not familiar with that last one???

  • iPhone

    Instead of looking at anti virus, you could just look at an iPhone. It’s called sand boxing.

  • Good to hear.

  • As Android is growing across the globe and reports of malware scares reportedly rise.

  • cristian donose

    Just today i found on one of my friends Android Antivirus. Uninstaled and instaled Avast wich i also use.

  • Gmars1284

    i got avast! on my laptop and my droid3 and both a safe as can be. love avast!

  • ddevito

    Someone tell me why these apps are needed?

  • Unique

    I have F-Secure on our network computers but did not know
    it was available on android phones. I don’t see it in the Google play market.
    Never had any problems with F-Secure on our network computers and works great!

  • What about ESET? EDIT: Never mind I see it

  • YourMother

    No surprise on Kaspersky, but I am surprised NOD slacked so much!

  • Granted

    Thank you for this post. These are the kinds of articles that I really like to see here, and I constantly miss the old days when it was more about this kind of stuff and not about what new case or sponsored garbage we need to buy. Plus, i can scarcely remember the last time there was a new Droid Eye Live Wallpaper apk to download. That kind of goodness has been replaced with Nike wrist bands you need to buy and shills commenting on them. Oh well, it’s articles like these that give a tiny itty bitty ray of hope that the site might remember what it started out as.

    But I’m extremely security minded so this awesome news to have. My only hope is that the company doing this is truly objective and has no motives besides user awareness and safety. So a big thank you to AV-Test for taking the time to run these tests and Droid-Life for posting this. I’m not concerned about viruses but even being as security minded as I am,I still like to scan my tablet every now and then just to be on the safe side. So I’m going to give AVAST! a go and see how it performs. I’m always quite weary of any AV I install, because in the past many of them would actually give you way more problems than they could ever hope to prevent.

  • Why isn’t Mobile Defense on this list? It has an anti malware program.

    • jdrch

      It’s not widely available, I think

  • Carl

    It’s all well and good that these apps protect you from malware/etc.  But I always felt the antitheft options were a joke.  Sure you can remotely wipe it once you realize you lost your phone but what is to stop a person who has found your phone from immediately pulling the battery and wiping the phone themselves.  Sure they don’t get your private info that way but they still have your phone and now half of the theft features are useless.  Your first best layer of security from info being stolen is setting a pin/password unlock.  Of course there will always be stupid people who would never think to do a battery pull, boot to recovery, and wipe the phone. 

  • patapongirl

    Avast! is really awesome. I’m using it for its other features even though I think antivirus on android is just BS.

  • Missthetrain

    The worst a virus can do is make you reset your device.
    Spyware is the one that you should be worry.

  • nicotinic

    It’s kinda like gun ownership for home defense; you don’t need one til you need one and if you find that you need one (ie., a goon is crawling through your window) then it’s too late to get one.
    Being knowledgeable and savy isn’t always the best defense.
    That make sense?

    • Sp4rxx

       No, because with antivirus it doesn’t matter if your kid gets a hold of it, loaded or not; people are so duped in to thinking that it won’t happen to them….. geesh.  I see a lot of new target for threats to be installed on their workstations….

      I work in IT and this is the kind of crap we hear all the time “why do I need it if I don’t go to such and such website” … or “all it does is slow down my PC” …. or “I’ve personally never had a virus”

      It’s like unprotected sex – if you don’t have protection, your risk is significantly higher of getting an infection than if you were protected.  And like condoms, no Antivirus is 100% perfect, but with it you stand a better chance of resisting or catching a virus.

      • nicotinic

        Let’s establish that you agree with me but dislike my analogy.
         I was simply comparing it to a self defense situation rather than the actual delicate nature in which one should handle actually owning a firearm and the effect it would have on a family. I do like your analogy though, cause it deals with real viruses. :’)

      • Why would you need to wear a condom if you’re not having sex?

        • sslayer22

          whats a condom? haha …knock on wood

      • I stuck my USB’s male stick into my PC’s female port and unfortunately the previous computer the USB had male on female action with had a virus. hahaha, love the analogy :D.

  • ABerry5

    These 40 companies probably paid for the creation of the rouge spyware that you hace to be knowledgeable enough to become infected that you never would

    •  You’re an idiot.

      • ABerry5

        Actually the opposite.. youre the idiot if you think the possibility of corporations whose product and revenue revolves around software security a new platform rising making the pc less relevant yet a brand new opportunity with mobile phones.. everyone wants to be first

  • thesaber2000

    Ahhh not kaspersky! That thing is a bothersome on the thrive!

    • Stephen D

      Kaspersky is continuously rated as the best PC anti virus by multiple test firms. It’s fantastic anti-virus software, at least for PC. It’s lightweight, and detection rates are almost always at 100%. 

      I don’t know about on phones though, but it and F-Secure are the only ones with all green boxes in the chart above. 

      • patapongirl

        Kaspersky was hacked some time ago. LOL! 

        I won’t trust anything that can’t even protect itself.

        • chudilo

           Every virus I’ve seen, first disables Symantec AV. Kaspersky usually stays up and actually detects the infection.

        • Max_Freedom

          So… what do you use?

    • sslayer22

      stupid thing takes F O R E V E R!!

  • Havoc70

    Nice to see Lookout up there, been using it since last year sometime.  

    • kulanapan

      Not for antivirus, I hope. I don’t want to make insults, but if you’re using antivirus on Android, you’re doing it wrong.

      • Scott

        What would be doing it right?

        • tehsusenoh

          Actually looking at the apps before you install them.  A little common sense goes a long way in the Market… I mean Play App Store…  Still, I don’t run one because I look for the signs.  My parents however have Lookout because I installed it for them.

          • ksat

            You know – this is all well and good – but, what about the apps that hide their permission in a pool of adjectives and define the reason why they require certain permissions.  Simply reading the descriptions does not protect you for the other 20%.   That’s where Lookout or the other Top 7 apps protect you.  

            If you aren’t running anything – you are doing it wrong! 

          • John

            I use lookout mainly for the GPS location service.  Aka find my phone.

          • jdsingle

            Lookout has helped us find phones and even (drunk) people who can’t seem to figure out where the hell they are. If only Latitude would work a little better sometimes.

          • Jon H

            Latitude works great. Try it in conjunction with Backitude, which updates your location to exact in the background.

          • jdsingle

            Don’t get me wrong, I love Latitude, but my GPS will be accurate and showing exactly where I am on Google Maps updated to the second (even with Live Ping) and it will still show me as being somewhere else on multiple friends phones. Has caused us some serious problems in the past. Backitude? I’ll have to check that out.

  • My antivirus is 100% effective, don’t download shady apps. Support devs and do not just download apks of paid apps.

    • Crack Monkey

      You better stay away from well known as well as not so well known websites. Many big sites have had viruses pushed through ad links. A link to a link to a link to a bad site and you’re infected. My PC AV caught bugs trying to get in from Syfy.com a fairly popular site. As others have noted even FoxNews was a carrier for a short time.

      • If you have seen my other comments all my systems are linux, so I do not worry about viruses (windows thing) just malware. Malware under linux I would need to approve of it doing what it wants to do, permissions, or it would have to be an exploit which those get fixed overnight and do not come often nor are the easy to find.

        However if we are talking about pc’s, which you were, then yes that can totally happen. As for your ad problem get google chrome and put ad block on it, they will never touch your computer again. Or get linux and dont worry about a thing.

  • I like seeing Lookout (which I use on my phone) and Avast! (which I use on my pc and soon to be on my phone) rank among the top 7 security apps. Thanks DL for this report! It helps all the new Android users! 

  • I’ve found that these aren’t needed if you watch what you install.  I do have Avas installed, with everything disabled except anti-theft.

    • sgtguthrie

      I used to think so, until I downloaded a go launcher theme that wasn’t actually a theme. Avast alerted me instantly! I now highly recommend it! Great root features too 😉

      • Noyfb

        avast FTW, run it on everything

    • Arman Samimi

      exactly my setup.

  • I really like this article. First off, it is good to see an application I have used (Lookout) ranked high. Secondly, since Android is a “new” environment for so many people, there is a lot of misinformation going around about safety, including how dangerous/not dangerous the world is as well as the effectiveness of these applications. I also like the fact that some of the top applications offer additional features that an average user might use. (Find phone, lock/wipe, etc.)

  • villian1998

    I don’t see mobile defense on there. The latest update has malware detection.

  • possomcrast1

    they didnt test cerabus. Would have been funny if they did.

    • If you are referring to Cerberus, I don’t think it does AV. Only security.

    • Cerabus, that’s a new variation on the name I’ve never seen before. The previous best was Cerebus.

  • feztheforeigner

    Do we really need anti-virus on our phones?

    • Devilsephiroth


    • AlexKCMO

       No, just like we really don’t need it on our computers.

      • John

        +1 never used one since AOL dialup/proggie days

        ..ahh memories

      • Trueblue711

        Sadly, with browser and USB drive exploits, I still think we do.

        • AlexKCMO

          Best way to avoid browser exploits is to stay off of dirty websites.

          • Trueblue711

            Not necessarily. Fox News, Myspace, and other well-known websites have had rogue advertisements with exploits slipped in.

          • HarryJohnson

             I have the Fluke virus with sores around my bezel.

          • Dogpooper

            I see what you did there.

          • Sp4rxx

             Yep and it’s not only websites, but email too and most, if not all, people check their email on their smartphones.  Virus programmers are getting smarter so we all should be on the ‘lookout’ for malware and virus-infected material for our phones….

          • Fox News is a dirty website.

    • Chris G

      If you’re smart, you don’t.

      • Sp4rxx

         Not true – I got a virus by going to a lan party during a time I didn’t have internet at home, so naturally I was safe not to get one from the internet (this was before smartphones) – the viruses are smarter than you think.

    • Mholton12

      Haven’t used one for three years on my android phones and never had an isue

      • Sp4rxx

         ooooo!!! A new target!

    • kixofmyg0t

      No. In fact you dont need a anti virus on your PC as well. In fact Anonymous prefers that you not have any security related apps installed. 

  • Michael Forte

    OMG we’re all gonna get infected with viruses on our phones! /s
    But really, it’s the same as Windows, just be careful of the sites you visit and the things you download and you’ll be fine. I don’t need no stinkin’ anti virus software on my phone!

    • Zenphic

      I agree that smart browsing is a great way to avoid infection, but I find having an anti-virus is better safe than sorry. You never know when you might fall victim to malware, so having an anti-virus might actually save your butt..

      • Michael Forte

        I definitely use Anti-virus on my computer, but I just don’t see the need to on my phone…yet. Maybe in the future it will be necessary, but as of now, no.

        • I don’t have anitvirus on my computer, but I run linux so I dont have to worry about that.

          • John

            Hah..agree..it’s nice having that feeling

          • xformulax

            I don’t have antivirus on my phone, but I run linux so I don’t have to worry about that.

          • Yup most antivirus is bull, mallware is another story with linux but that what perms are for.

          • Max_Freedom

            So what do you run?

          • Depends, my typical is Arch Linux, But sometimes when I just need something to install and go I will use Ubuntu or Mint. I also may go back to Ubuntu more once the 12.04 hits just after my birthday in April.

    • Sp4rxx

      I love how everyone says “bad” or “shady” websites.  It’s not all websites – viruses can come from simple transfers like side-loading apps from an SDcard or email attachments or any number of OTHER ways rather than just through the web…..