Which is the best Android security app?

According to the latest test results published by independent testing lab AV-Test, the two Android security apps which offer the best possible protection are ‘TrustGo’ and ‘Lookout’ respectively. The good news is that all but one of the 22 apps tested passed AV-Test certification… that sole failure being GFI Mobile Security. Looking through the results, with a median detection rate of an impressive 97%, I think it’s fair to say that there is not much to pick between the top dozen or so apps.

Of course, security companies no longer rely solely on malware detection to define their mobile products, with many also including anti-theft, data encryption, secure browsing, and parental control features. Security companies also seem to appreciate that mobile security apps need to be unobtrusive and light on battery power in order to actually be more help than hindrance. If an app overly shortens battery life, and/or disrupts normal operations, they recognize that users are likely to uninstall it.

With that in mind, AV-Test utilized a complex/multi-tiered testing system which not only assesses malware detection but also takes into consideration battery life, overall user experience, and the extra features included with each app.

In basic terms: AV-Test uses a comparatively large sample base of malicious software, 800 to 1000 samples made up from 20 different malware families. They also test for false-positives by utilizing known clean apps from the Google Play store. In each case, an SD card was loaded with malware samples and a full system scan then performed. Any samples which remained undetected were then accessed in order to gauge the software’s real-time protection abilities.

AV-Test finally calculates the percentage of malware detected, along with pluses and minuses for extra features and impact on the user, etc., to ascertain a total score. This is an important factor because, as the test results show, most security apps already rate highly in malware detection, and this system takes into account each app as a whole. In order to achieve certification an app must score more than 8 points total. Scoring is based on; a possible maximum 6 points for protection, plus a maximum 6 points for usability, plus one extra point for features. Making 13 the highest possible score.

Here is a rundown of the results, in points scored order from first to last:

Product name AV-Test score % Detected
TrustGo Mobile Security 13.0 100%
Lookout Antivirus & Security 12.5   99%
Symantec Mobile Security 12.0   98%
Trend Micro Mobile Security 12.0   97%
Bitdefender Mobile Security 11.5 100%
Antiy AVL 11.5 100%
Dr. Web anti-virus 11.5   97%
Sophos Mobile Security 11.5   96%
Avast Mobile Security 11.0   98%
Comodo Mobile Secuity 11.0   97%
NQ Mobile Mobile Security 11.0   97%
Webroot SecureAnywhere mob 11.0   96%
Eset Mobile Security 11.0   95%
AhnLab V3 Mobile 10.5   94%
Tencent QQ Security 10.0   97%
Quick Heal Total Security 10.0   93%
G Data Mobile Security   9.5   89%
Ikarus Mobile Security   9.5   87%
Kaspersky Mobile Security   9.0   96%
F-Secure Mobile Security   8.5   94%
Qihoo 350 Mobile Safe   8.5   84%
GFI Mobile Security   8.0   71%

We’ve seen some pretty ordinary test results published for PC security related software of late, and there’s no doubt that mobile devices are being targeted more and more frequently, so it’s re-assuring to see that these results are at least an indication that security companies may be getting it mostly right in the mobile environment.

View the test results on the AV-Test site here: http://www.av-test.org/en/tests/mobile-devices/android/jan-2013/

3 thoughts on “Which is the best Android security app?”

  1. After recently jailbreaking my smartphoneI, I dumped “the Lookout” for “Avast Mobile Security”. The features for root users are impressive, to say the least. I’m liking Avast.

    1. Yes, you are definitely missing something Sheri. The AV-Test site (linked to at the bottom of the article) has listed the apps in alphabetical order. Go back and take another look, TrustGo is second from the bottom.

      In the center column of the list on the AV-Test site you will see points awarded out of a maximum 6 for both Protection and Usability. If you add those two scores together + one more point awarded for features, that is the total score on which the apps are rated. The percentages relate to detection rates only.

      I reordered the apps so they appear in my list in order of points awarded, which I thought would be more helpful.

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