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Android's Antivirus Apps Barely Protect Anything, Says Study

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At the risk of offering credence to the abstinence movement, when it comes to online behavior, your best protection against viruses is to avoid risky activity altogether. Steer clear of questionable sites, don't download or run unknown files, block Adobe Flash when you can, and maintain complex but memorable passwords.

But, like teens in the throes of carnal activity, you're gonna do what you're gonna do. So just to be safe, you might as well use a layer of protection when you venture out into that hedonistic online world on your iPhone, Droid, BlackBerry, or Windows Phone.

Unfortunately, a new study has found that many of Android's free anti-virus apps offer up about as much protection as the rhythm method and crossing your fingers. According to a report by AV-TEST, an IT security firm, only one in seven detected an adequate amount of malware found on a test Android device -- a Samsung Galaxy Tab running Android 2.2.1 Froyo.

The apps used in the study were:
  • Antivirus Free
  • BluePoint Antivirus Free
  • GuardX Antivirus
  • Kinetoo Malware Scan
  • LabMSF Antivirus beta
  • Zoner Anti-Virus Free
  • Privateer Lite

It was Zoner Anti-Virus that found the most nefarious content at a meager 32%. Yes, only 52 out of 172 malware programs were detected during a manual scan. For programs installed after Zoner was up and running, the antivirus app scored much better and detected 8 out of 10 malware programs.

The rest, well, were pitiful. Four out of the other six did not detect a single bit of malware on a manual scan, and the fifth detected a whopping two.

And in case you were wondering, yes, the most popular antivirus app on Android, Antivirus Free, was among the apps that didn't detect any malware. It's estimated to be installed on one to five million Android devices currently.

So much for being safe.

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(See also: Apple's Market Share Falls as Android Rockets Past 50% and Google Engineer Calls Google+ a Complete Failure)

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