Independent antivirus testing organization AV Test published its September 2017 rankings for Android antivirus solutions.
The organization has done so since 2013 by testing the protection and usability of Android security solutions.
While it is debatable whether antivirus solutions are needed on Android, it is clear that the platform is used to distribute malware.
Google's Play Store plays a central role in the Android world. It is installed on many Android devices, and most users download and install applications from it.
Google Play Protect is Google's security solution which the company added to the Play Store to protect Android users from malware.
Google describes the security feature in the following way on the official project website:
Google Play Protect continuously works to keep your device, data and apps safe. It actively scans your device and is constantly improving to make sure you have the latest in mobile security. Your device is automatically scanned around the clock, so you can rest easy.
AV Test ran Google Play Protect through the same series of tests that all other Android security solutions had to run through. The results are quite devastating for Google, as it got awarded no points for its protection functionality.
All other Android security applications that were tested as well managed to get a higher score. The security apps that got a perfect 5/5 score were: Antiy AVL, Avast Mobile Security, Bitdefender Mobile Security, Cheetah Mobile Security, G Data Internet Security, Kaspersky Lab Internet Security, McAfee Mobile Security, Norton Mobile Security, P Safe DFNDR, Sophos Mobile Security, Tencent WeSecure, and Trend Micro Mobile Security.
Google Play Protect managed to detect 65.8 of real-time Android malware samples, and 79.2% of malware that was discovered in the last 4 weeks. The Industry average is 95.7% and 98.4% respectively.
The security feature did get a perfect usability score however; false positives and warnings affect AV Test's usability score of applications.
Google Play Protect is also weaker when it comes to the features that it ships with. While it supports anti-theft, it does not offer other features such as encryption, backup, parental controls, safe browsing, or call blocking. These extra features are not part of the overall rating however.
The past has shown that Google's protective features of the company's Play Store -- and the company's Chrome extension store as well by the way -- are not sufficient to keep all malware and invasive applications out.
The security test highlights that Google Play Protect detects less malware than any other security solution for Android which AV Test tested (a total of 21 apps were tested).
Takeaway: don't rely on Google to keep you protected.
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