Is installing antivirus on Android really useful?

The security Google offers on its Android phones is far from ideal. These are the conclusions of a recent report from cybersecurity specialists. Is it still useful to install additional antivirus? It depends.

The Pegasus case reminded everyone that no operating system is immune to spyware, malware and other viruses. Software companies are continually racing against malicious hackers to try to close the security loopholes in their OS. Unfortunately, Google doesn’t look very good at this game.

Google security, last in the ranking

According to a 6-month study carried out by AV-TEST, a German cybersecurity analysis firm, the protection mechanisms put in place on Android are far from flawless. Google Play Protect, Google’s in-house antivirus installed by default on most Android smartphones, was dead last in the rankings against 15 other applications supposed to detect malware.

Out of 20,000 infected applications submitted for analysis, Google Play Protect only displayed the red flag for about two-thirds of them. Other software like Avast, AVG or BitDefender show much higher success rates. So much so that AV-TEST recommends that “ all android users to download an additional security app “.

The ranking established by AV-TEST // Source: AV-TEST

The advice is far from bad: after all, you are never sufficiently protected. But outside the labs, what do you risk if you don’t install an antivirus on your mobile? It all depends on how you use your phone. If you regularly download apps from outside of the Google store, then an extra layer of security will never be too much.

Risks to be tempered

On the other hand, if you only download apps from the Play Store from reputable and trusted publishers, you greatly reduce your chances of getting infected with a virus. Paying attention to the permissions requested by an application and user feedback can also help. No mechanism is 100% reliable, the Play Store has already hosted malicious applications, but your chances of getting infected are lower if you stay in Google’s backyard.

In short, you have to act on your mobile as you do on your computer. Avoid installing any software from any site. Installed on my few years old phone that went through a lot of hacking and testing, Avast found no threats or malware. The figures in this report may be scary, but they do not always correspond to consumer practices.

Does this mean that Google is doing a good job? Obviously no. The company must do better to protect the 3 billion or so Android phones in circulation, especially in light of recent revelations about the Pegasus affair. The AV-TEST study is a cold shower for the research giant, but that doesn’t mean your phone is infested with malware.

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