Android Police reported last month that Virus Shield became the #1 New Paid and #3 Overall App, but an analysis of its code “confirmed that this app is totally and completely devoid of any security benefit” and was removed from the Google Play Store. Next, The Guardian reported 50 million Android phones may be exposed to Heartbleed. A major security breach and a fraudulent anti-virus app collide, and developers and users are left uncomfortable and vulnerable.
What is the best Android anti-virus app? Does one exist? How do developers make responsible choices to safeguard themselves and users, but continue to create excellent Android apps? Even Symantec VP Brian Dye says “that antivirus like Norton catches only 45 percent of cyberattacks today” in a conversation with the Wall Street Journal. A complex, dynamic picture of Android security is unfolding, and a new direction for anti-virus is on the horizon.
The Verge reports an anti-virus app is “often completely unnecessary.” And, perhaps, they are. Currently, as Dark Reading explains, an anti-virus app flags problems but cannot remove them. Without tools to eliminate malware and infections, an anti-virus app is just a virus detection app.
Android anti-virus apps are regularly tested by groups like AV-Test to evaluate their efficacy and chart improvements in functionality. An analysis of AV-Test results by Security Watch reveals a mixed bag. Improvements in some areas like preserving battery life indicate progress, but an increase in the number of safe applications flagged as malicious is alarming. AV-Test CEO Andreas Marx suggests the most important feature for an anti-virus app would be an “on-installation check.” This tool would prevent users from downloading infected apps to their Android phones.
Shouldn’t Google have a better system to prevent do-nothing, bug-infested apps from showing up in the Google Play Store? Android Police reveals Virus Shield was available on the Google Play store despite the absence of a developer website and an email previously flagged for inappropriate behavior. It achieved a 4.7 rating, yet, as CSOOnline.com notes, “A raft of allegedly fake reviews and high ratings helped propel Virus Shield to the top of the Play Store.” Clearly, Deviant Solutions, the developer behind Virus Shield, engages in deviant behavior. Google’s only tool is the app kill switch, as the Android ecosystem faces the growing threat of mobile hacking.
A team of researchers at Syracuse University, led by Dr. Kevin Du, identifies and examines mobile hacking threats, ranging from scanning an infected bar code to downloading infected apps. Apps that are particularly vulnerable to hacking are coded with HTML5. He sees a growing attraction to HTML5, as it works across different platforms. He says, ”By 2016, it’s estimated that more than fifty percent of the mobile apps will be produced using HTML-5 technology. This is just a disaster waiting to happen.” The video of Dr. Du and his researchers produced by Syracuse University News Services shows how they easily hack a phone and follow a user’s mobile footprint.
Existing anti-virus apps do not currently provide users with all of the tools they need. If an anti-virus app can’t remove a bug, then it’s not truly effective. Android app developers who help users organize and manage sensitive data must be diligent with security and permissions. And, as mobile hacking increases, fully functional apps may be the best resources to protect users’ mobile privacy and security. There is a need for honest, ethical Android developers to innovate and meet this challenge.
“The mobile space is still new territory for both attackers and defenders. Things can change quickly,” says Security Watch. Hopefully, the hackers are not a few steps ahead. We tested one of the best performing anti-virus apps according to AV-Test. We have tested the Kaspersky in our lab, checkout our detailed test report.
We are impressed by the Kaspersky Anti-Virus Android App and think Android users should check it out. The free version scans and analyzes your Android device’s OS simply and quickly, while the premium version adds buffers to block intrusions. In our test, 26,820 files were scanned in less than three minutes. The progress of the scan appears in a shield that gradually changes color. At the end of the scan, a list with the number of files scanned, threats detected, neutralized, quarantined, and disinfected is available. Fortunately, we did not have any threats to address. ”Everything is OK” appears at the top of the screen and ensures peace of mind. The premium version scans new apps immediately after download and quickly alerts users who have downloaded a malicious app. The secure browser and call and text filter blocks phishing from callers, text links, and websites that exploit users’ private information. If your device is lost or stolen, premium users may disable the device to prevent theft of data. The tools available in the premium version address the next steps needed to enhance mobile security – prevent phishing, hacking, and malware from finding its way into your Android device’s OS, instead of waiting until infection to remove it.
Developers, do you consider mobile hacking to be a growing threat? What resources do you need to create apps that stand up to infection? We want to hear what you think. Share your thoughts with us via the comments below.