“Mobile anti-virus is not needed”, says Google’s head of Android security. Speaking to journalists at the company’s Mountain View headquarters in California, Adrian Ludwig states that there’s no reason to install something in addition to the security that Google provides.
Nevertheless, fragmentation among the different manufacturers remains one of Androids security problems that Google is trying to tackle in the new versions of Android. Google claims that Android antivirus apps are pointless and just scams.
With the upcoming release of the Mobile Cloud Labs new Android Security Suite we couldn’t disagree more. Not all Android antivirus applications are equal though. Through both internal testing conducted at Mobile Cloud Labs and independent tests, we have shown just the opposite of what Google states.
In fact, we agree that Android is most definitely a secure system as it is built on top of Linux with several design features that add layers of protection. Google is right from the standpoint that a true “antivirus” may not be needed.
Viruses by definition are self-replicating and typically inject themselves into files and other executable applications, which without a rooted Android phone is extremely difficult to do on an Android device.
However, Antivirus companies label their products as “antivirus” because that is what people have learned to look for coming out of the Windows era. What is definitely possible with Android that most good “antivirus” apps protect against, are classifications of malware such as “Spyware”, “Ransomware”, “Trojans”, and “Scareware”. These types of applications can steal your information, cause unexpected behavior and slow down your mobile device.
Android malware is typically built into simple unsuspecting apps such as flashlight apps, battery apps etc. If you download a flashlight app for your Android device and it requires any special privileges (presented to you before download), this is the first sign of bad intention by the distributor and possible malware.
The team behind Mobile Cloud Labs knows this because they have written proof of concept applications internally in order to know what to look for and what to protect against in our upcoming Android Security Suite.
Google is correct in the fact that mobile antivirus is not needed. Where they stand corrected is that the majority of mobile antivirus apps on the market are actually protecting against other forms of malware not necessarily viruses. These apps are marketed that way because face it, when was the last time you searched for “anti malware”?