Before downloading or even paying for an antivirus software for your Android smartphone, you should read this carefully: according to a study conducted by AV-Comparatives, two-thirds of the antivirus software offered on Android is not reliable, and can even be scams.

To reach these conclusions, AV-Comparatives tested (via a framework) 250 apps against the 2,000 most common malicious applications on Android in 2018.

And according to these tests, only 80 out of 250 anti-viruses were able to detect more than 30% of these threats, while not making a false positive. 138 applications identified less than 30% of these threats or had high rates of false positives on popular applications known to be safe on the Play Store.

The good news is that 32 other applications have already been removed from the Play Store by Google in the last two months.

Beware of opinions

For those who want to install antivirus software on their smartphones, AV-Comparatives recommend not to rely on reviews.

Indeed, users tend to give opinions based on the user experience and not on the effectiveness against online threats. On the other hand, developers can also boost their applications on the Play Store with false opinions. “For this reason, only applications from known, verified and reputable vendors,” explains the company in the conclusion of its study.

According to the latter, reliable suppliers always have “a professional website with contact information and privacy policy.” Furthermore,  “It should also be possible to try the application (trial use is usually allowed for a few weeks) before purchase,” adds AV-Comparatives. “Users can then evaluate the usability and additional features of the product. Some vendors offer very efficient free versions of their applications. In general, they are more likely to display advertising compared the paid version, although this is not always the case.”

Beware of antivirus Android softwares!

In its study, AV-Comparatives denounces applications that would be developed by amateurs, or that have been created by entities that are not specialists in computer security.

The company considers applications that have failed its test as “ineffective or unreliable.” Some are even considered as Trojans, fake antivirus software or potentially unwanted applications by “reputable” security companies.

“It is expected that Google will remove most of them from the Google Play Store in the coming months (and hopefully improve their verification controls, thus blocking other applications in the Store),” writes AV-Comparative.

Fortunately, there are also really effective antiviruses. In its study, AV-Comparative lists the 80 software programs that have passed its tests (detect more than 30% of threats). Some applications, such as AVG, F-Secure, Trend Micro or Symantec, have even received a 100% score, and are among the best antivirus products on the market.