Most Antivirus Apps on Google Play Suck at Detecting Malware

Doris Richards
March 16, 2019

Android users are being warned about "dangerous" permissions that popular Google Play Store apps are asking for. According to Check Point, the developers of the apps in question may have duped into using the Software Development Kit or SDK that has the adware.

Android adware found its way into as many as 150 million devices - after it was stashed inside a large number of those freaky viral mundane job simulation games, we're told.

For its tests, AV Comparatives ran 2,000 of the most common Android malware samples from past year through the 250 anti-virus products, checking their detection and false-positive rates. The app icons on Play Store for Android users have been of varied shapes.

Android Q will prevent apps from launching an activity while in the background so you don't suddenly find an app jump in front of what you're doing. All of the apps have now been removed after Google was notified about the same.

Some apps or features within an app may only need location while the app is being used. In some cases, the apps are simply buggy, e.g. because they have poorly implemented a third-party engine.


Only 23 apps had a 100 percent success rate with all malware samples. AV-Comparatives is recommending that consumers ought to be vigilant and use only products of well-known vendors.

Of the 250 apps tested, only 80 detected over 30% of the malware they encountered during individual tests, which were not particularly complicated (the researchers installed the antivirus and then automated the device to open a browser, download a malicious app and install it).

"These updates will help us all provide a more unified and consistent look and feel for Google Play, allowing us to better showcase your apps and games and provide a higher quality user experience", Google mentioned in its blog post. "AV Comparative gives an example of JSON - JavaScript Object Notation - a whitelist that includes an entry for ".com.Adobe". Check Point also published a list containing the tainted apps showing package name, the app name and number of installations.

AV Comparatives says a handful of apps it tested have now been flagged by other security software as Trojans or "potentially unwanted applications", a category reserved for apps that may have some legitimate functionality but also sport other, questionable features, such as bombarding users with ads. Android Adware "SimBad" Security experts at Check Point Software Technologies discovered that 206 apps contained SimBad. A few more were over 99 percent effective.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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