Google last again in Android antivirus ranking (2018)
Google Play Protect does not protect Android devices against malware attacks very well according to latest test results of German company AV-Test. The result confirms previous tests that AV Test and AV Comparatives conducted to test protective capabilities of Android security solutions.
Play Protect is the built-in malware protection for Android that powers more than two billion devices according to Google. The protective functionality is baked into Android and uses machine learning algorithms to improve in real time according to Google. The service scans more than 50 billion apps every day according to Google.
You can check "My apps & games" section of the official Google Play application to find out if Play Protect detects security related issues on the device and when it last scanned apps on the device. It is furthermore possible to start scans with a tap on the reload button.
Google Play Protect's bad security rating
The latest test results of German antivirus and security testing institute AV-Test suggest that Google Play Protect does not offer adequate protection against malware.
The institute checked 21 different mobile security products for Android from renowned companies such as Avast, Avira, Bitdefender, G Data, or Kaspersky against a set of 2945 of the latest Android malware threats and a set of 2709 malware samples discovered up to four weeks ago at the time of the testing.
Google Play Protect was the only solution that received 0 points in the protection category. It had detection scores of 70.1% and 49.4% against real-time malware and malware of the last 4 weeks. The average for all tested solutions was 97.4% and 96.7% respectively.
Only four antivirus solutions received test scores below the maximum score of 6. Google Play Protect was the only solution that did not receive any points; TrustGo Antivirus & Mobile Security received 2 points, iNetCop's OnVaccine 3 points, and Ikarus' Mobile Security 5.5 points.
All other solutions got maximum points in the protection category.
Google Play Protect fared better in the usability category where it received the maximum number of points. Most mobile security solutions received maximum points in the category as well as only 7 received a score less than the maximum of 6.
A high usability score is awarded when apps don't impact battery life, slow down device usage, or generate excess traffic, and when the number of false positives is low.
Solutions that received full points in protection and usability are: AhnLab V2 Mobile Security, Alibaba Mobile Security, Avast Mobile Security, AVG Antivirus Free, Avira Antivirus Security, Bitdefender Mobile Security, G Data Internet Security, Kaspersky Internet Security, Norton Mobile Security, Tencent WeSecure, and TrendMicro Mobile Security.
How did Google Play Protect perform in previous months? Not better: the solution kept its 0 rating in the protection category in all four tests AV-Test ran this year.
A quick check of the mobile security results for Android on AV Comparatives, another test organization, paints a similar picture. Google came in last with a protection rate of just over 50% at 51.8%. The second worst program had a protection rate of 92.3% and that only because of a bug in the software program.
The main takeaway is that Google Play Protect does not protect well against threats on Android. It reminds me a lot of how Microsoft's security solutions, Windows Defender and Microsoft Security Essentials, started.
Android is plagued by malware campaigns and while some protection is better than none, it is clear that Google Play Protect is not the best when it comes to protecting Android users from malware attacks.
Do Android users need another security solution then? It depends on device usage in my opinion; if you install lots of apps from unverified sources you may want to add extra protection to your device. If you use it to check Google Maps, the weather, and for chatting, the risk of being exposed to malware is relatively low.
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