Mar 09 AT 10:54 AM Taylor Wimberly 30 Comments

How does your mobile malware protection rank?


Are anti-virus apps necessary for Android users? Hiroshi Lockheimer, VP of Android Engineering, recently said, “I don’t think so. That’s obviously an individual choice, but I haven’t felt the need for it. Let’s put it this way, I don’t run those apps.”

How does your malware protection app rank?

Security institute AV-Test sees it differently. They claim that Google’s Bouncer technology only checks apps for malware during the time of publication in Android Market, so apps that download their malicious code after installation can’t easily be detected.

AV-Test recently inspected 41 different malware detection apps for Android to see how they performed. They found that seven apps produced average family detection results above 90%. These apps include Avast, Dr. Web, F-Secure, Ikarus, Kaspersky, Lookout, and Zoner. AV-Test says, “Using these products you don’t have to worry about your malware protection.”

They go on to note that even if a product scores poorly in malware detection it may have other convenient features, such as remote lock and wipe, backup and phone locating, that make it useful for your purposes.

But that begs the question. Why would you want a security app with poor malware detection, when there are several good ones to choose from.

Some security apps were not too happy with the results. AV-Test updated their report to note that MyMobileSecurity, NQ Mobile, Total Defense all said the testing methods were considered imprecise or flawed. All those apps were listed in the bottom half of the report, so it’s easy to see why they might have a problem with the results.

When it comes to my mobile security app of choice, I trust Lookout. I never run anti-virus software on my PC, but I choose to use it on my phone for the piece of mind and phone location feature. It doesn’t affect my battery life or performance, so I always have it installed on all of my devices. I also appreciate the Lookout Blog that seeks to inform its users rather than play on their fears.

Let us know what you think of AV-Test’s report. Does it have any influence over what security app you might use?

Source: AV-Test

Taylor is the founder of Android and Me. He resides in Dallas and carries the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One as his daily devices. Ask him a question on Twitter or Google+ and he is likely to respond. | Ethics statement

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  • thekaz

    I am happy (so far) with Lookout, as well. I tend not to download “risky” apps for myself, but my kids constantly want some stupid app to play with, and THOSE I tend to not trust as much, so I am glad to have Lookout.

    The people I feel really need to be educated are the “less technical” people (you know, your grandmother or father or the cousin no one talks about) as they may not fully understand the risks.

    I am all for letting you install whatever you want on your phone, but you need to be smart about it.

    • LukeT32

      really surprised by McAfee’s low score. I thought they were pretty trusted in the PC world.

      • jonathan3579

        They have always been intrusive on any computer installed on with me. I prefer avast.

        With that being said, i do not use any malware/virus protector on my phone. I am smart enough to know which apps are trustworthy or not.

      • n25philly

        They are only trusted by people that don’t know any better, they’re PC software is crap.

    • spazby

      I am there with you, have had lookout since the beginning and happy to have it

  • Angel

    If the VP of Android Engineering says it’s not required, then why would I want to waste my money, time, and valuable system space loading any of these apps? Malware companies use fear tactics to sell their products. I guess their real fear is that you won’t buy their unneeded product…..

    • honourbound68

      I don’t have to buy lookout because it’s free :)

    • Tina

      Because Android is open-source. Anyone can get the codes for the software and create what they want and get any information they want. That’s like saying Windows firewall is enough to protect your PC or like saying she said she’s a virgin I don’t need protection. Everyone needs protection.

    • Matt Yearian

      completely agree. Maybe in the future this might be needed, but not right now.

      • Angel

        Yes lockout is free, BUT it still takes up valuable space on the drive – AND – it is using valuable resources causing your device to run slower. As far as Android being open-source, that is true, but then explain if that is all that matters, why is it that no one has ever received any viruses or malware. Obviously there are other factors in play here other than the open source issue. Bottom line; when and IF (and that’s a big if) it ever happens, then I’ll consider installing one of these apps, but until then as they say – why wake a sleeping dog…

        • honourbound68

          im pretty sure I’ve read that some people have had trojans installed from infected market apps. Even on my old Sammy epic 4g, lookout didn’t slow the os enough to make it unbearable. I’ll take the peace of mind lookout provides and sacrifice what little storage space it takes.

  • danny8x8

    I concur with you, anti virus on the pc is just a load of marketing bull and scare tactics. I’ve never used them and never will.
    Similarly, on smart phones the only useful bit about anti virus is the remote wipe function……..if it actually works in a timely fashion. I’ve never tried it.
    Please spread the word, the anti virus companies just want your money. They are the ones we should inoculate against.

  • Uncle Rico

    The thing I like about the Trend Micro solution is the ablility to block calls and text messages, either by keywords or sender (for texts). We use it on our Exchange Servers.. awesome product, so i tried it on my GS 2.. had Lookout on my Captivate.. other than no call or text blocking, it was a great product also.

  • droiddewd

    After using AVG, I went with the Avast app after your site’s great write up on it earlier this year. It works wonderfully and I can see why it is at the top of the list.

  • Mark

    Well, Avast FTW! First TheftAware rocked. They had the best Anti-Theft options IMHO and the way they worked with rooted phones was pure genius. Anti-Theft that can survive a factory reset? Awesome. But it was like $5, still way worth it. But then Avast goes and buys them and integrates TheftAware within their program, along with a firewall comparable to DroidWall, and offers the whole thing for free? So I know they ROCK at Anti-Theft, and now according to this they ROCK in Anti-Malware (which I never really felt I needed but the Firewall and Anti-Theft in one was nice so the Anti-Virus/Malware thing was an added bonus), and their Firewall is not bad either. So instead of an Anti-Virus Program, an Anti-Theft Program like TheftAware and a Firewall program like DroidWall, it’s all in one; and it’s free. Why aren’t you running Avast?

  • txbluesman

    I have been using Lookout for several years now and I like it. I usually get all my apps from “Google Play”(Android Market, LOL!) and don’t sideload, so I feel pretty secure. It is all about choice and what makes you feel good inside.

  • oddball

    I used avast for the root integration. It ensures that even if a thief does a factory reset my tracking software can still be activated to recover my phone. All for free. Yes it comes with antivirus built in and according to this report a pretty good one but that is really just icing on the cake

  • shane

    I used to use lookout until it couldn’t detect the malware plankton. The way I found out was i I use kaspersky on my computer and they gave me a full year of there mobile app for free so I installed it the same tike I also had lookout on my phone. I downloaded a game from the market and kaspersky warned me of the malware plankton which is a trojan that was attached to this game lookout did nothing. When i asked lookout they said its not a malware everything is OK. However if you search the web for it even Google themselves recognize it is malicious and have pulled appspfrom the market because of it. Needless to say I won’t use lookout anymore because they lied, and treated me like I was stupid too.

  • Max.Steel

    Anti-virus on Android phones is playing on rabid fear. How often does a Linus kernel get a virus? Exactly…

  • thaghost

    I dont use momile malware protection

  • Derek

    You say you dont run antivirus on your PC!?!? Wow!! I would never even turn on a windows pc without some form of antivirus. Granted on my Macs I dont use any antivirus on them.

  • jsweetser2

    I use lookout too and I love it. Twice i’ve left my phone somewhere and lookout allowed me to find it fast and easily. It’s the main reason I use it. Anti virus is just a bonus

  • Dustin Sabecky

    I have an iPhone, therefore my protection is in the white wall I’m behind.

  • TruFactz

    Avast! All Day. i don’t even “look” to Lookout, avast security is by far the most helpful
    While ur iPhone user here is calling me asking “Can Find My IPhone locate when the phone is off?” and “If they wipe the device can i still locate it” Which neither it can do, ill be getting a text message with the person who stole my phone’s number as well as his geo. Good Day.

  • Olliedcy

    While I agree that most people don’t need antivirus on Android phones I am not in that category. I sideload alot on my rooted devices and have used Lookout since day one. I haven’t caught anything yet but it gives me a degree of peace of mind that makes it worthwhile to me. YMV

  • Chad

    Android security is pretty safe but I still use Avast! and it’s been great. Even if you don’t need the security features just get it for the tracking features in case your phone has been lost or stolen even if the thief wipes your data it’ll still track and give a geo location as well as sound off an alarm constantly that thief won’t be able to turn off w/o a pin #, and it’s free.

  • DracoPsycho

    At first I used Lookout, but then, after your review, I installed avast and now I’m absolutely satisfied beside one thing. I can’t uninstall Lookout, it looks like it is uninstalling, but it still sits there. Froze it with Titanium Backup…

    • Adrien C.

      You probably need to unauthorize Lookout to be able to uninstall it.

  • vishalbansal


  • Jonas

    Just saw that the reprots from AV was updated, sicne text not done correct, quiet big changes on some, The one i use MY Android Protection went all the way to the top!