Free Android antivirus software is 'useless,' says testing firm

The malware scanners from minor players typically catch less than 10 percent of malicious software

Consumers and workers who install free Android antivirus scanners from relatively unknown developers are mostly wasting their time, an independent testing firm has found. "During our tests, we found out that the majority of free products are -- to make it short -- useless," says Andreas Marx, CEO of AV-Test. Of all the major mobile platforms, Android is at most risk for malware.

The German firm tested seven free antivirus applications for the Android platform and found that the best program detected only one-third of resident malware, and all others detected less than 6 percent. The best performer, Zoner Antivirus Free, detected 8 of 10 malicious programs during installation, while the other applications detected at most 1 of the 10 malicious programs, according to the firm's analysis (PDF).

The company tested Zrgiu's Antivirus Free, BluePoint Antivirus Free, GuardX Antivirus, Kinetoo Malware Scan, LabMSF Antivirus beta, Privateer Lite, and Zoner AntiVirus Free. Four of the free antivirus program did not detect any of the 172 resident malicious programs used as a test base; another detected only 2. The programs also had little success in detecting malware during installation, with three of the programs detecting no malware and three others detecting a single program. Zoner Antivirus Free was the only standout of the bunch, detecting 32 percent of resident malware and 80 percent of malware during installation.

The firm compared the results to antivirus offerings from established security firms F-Secure and Kaspersky, which detected more than 50 percent of resident malware and blocked all 10 malware samples during installation.

The company plans to widen the testing for its next report to include antivirus programs from commercial vendors as well.

This story, "Free Android antivirus software is 'useless,' says testing firm," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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