6 Antivirus Android Apps That Are a Total Rip-Off

antivirus Android apps to avoid

If you’re looking for a good antivirus Android app, these six titles are ones you probably don’t want to download | Source: iStock

If you’re concerned about security, you’ve probably asked yourself whether you need an antivirus app for your Android phone or tablet. You probably already know that disreputable Android antivirus apps are near the top of the list of apps you should never download, and you’re likely aware that antivirus apps are no match for the poor security situation of the Android operating system. The best way to guard against malware and adware is to stay vigilant about avoiding suspicious apps and steering clear of suspicious websites. But while some people argue that Android antivirus apps are useless, you can gain some extra protection and some peace of mind by opting for an antivirus Android app from a well-established company — preferably one that performs respectably in independent testing.

AV Test has some helpful resources if you’re trying to find the most effective antivirus Android apps, including an ongoing ranking of the best antivirus software. But it’s almost as important to know which antivirus Android apps aren’t doing a good job. It’s obvious that the fake security apps that pop up occasionally are the sort of software that you should avoid. But spend even a few minutes looking through your options on the Google Play Store (this is not the time to turn to a third-party app store) and you’ll quickly realize that it’s hard to tell the good apps from the bad.

According to the researchers at Consumer Reports, a good antivirus app for your Android phone or for any other device should offer a range of effective features, like antivirus and anti-malware protection, a simple interface, and easy installation. They also recommend determining whether you also need your antivirus Android app to include a lost and stolen phone locator service, an app privacy adviser, the capability to block malicious sites and phishing URLs, or a backup service. But not all antivirus Android apps even do a good job of detecting malware, let alone of offering these additional services. Read on to check out six antivirus apps you should avoid downloading.

1. Zoner Antivirus

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

Zoner Antivirus received the lowest overall score of all of the mobile antivirus apps that Consumer Reports tested. That’s because this antivirus app for Android was only “fair” at finding malware. It also performed poorly at locking and wiping a device. It’s unable to block malicious websites, and can’t be remotely controlled via a website. It also can’t back up your device’s contents to the cloud, and doesn’t offer a parental filter. However, it does offer a privacy scan to determine whether the apps you have installed are sharing your personal information unnecessarily. Despite the fact that this is a free app, this isn’t an antivirus app that we’d recommend you download.

2. MYMobile Security

David Ramos/Getty Images

David Ramos/Getty Images

MYMobile Security is another antivirus Android app that Consumer Reports researchers found does only a poor job of finding malware on an infected device. Despite its cost of $40 per year, this app doesn’t block malicious websites, can’t be controlled via a website or web app, doesn’t offer a spam filter, isn’t equipped with a parental filter, and can’t complete a privacy scan. It can back up your data to the cloud — but that feature alone isn’t worth the $40 when you can get free cloud storage elsewhere.

3. NQ Mobile Security & Antivirus

Josep Lago/AFP/Getty Images

Josep Lago/AFP/Getty Images

NQ Mobile Security & Antivirus earned a low score from Consumer Reports reviewers thanks to the poor job it did of finding malware. This antivirus Android app costs $20 per year, and seems to have all of the features you’d want. (For instance, it can block malicious websites and remove spam emails from your inbox. Plus, you can control it remotely or conduct a privacy scan.) But with this software as well as with other titles, it’s important to make sure that an antivirus app is living up to its promises. In this case, an antivirus Android app that doesn’t do a good job of detecting malware won’t do you any favors.

4. G Data Antivirus

Odd Andersen/AFP/Getty Images

Odd Andersen/AFP/Getty Images

G Data Antivirus sounds like a much better download compared to the three titles above, since Consumer Reports researchers write that it did a fair job of finding malware. But keep in mind that you want your antivirus Android app to be excellent at detecting malware. The other features of this app — like its ability to block malicious websites, its spam filter, and its privacy scan feature — are all ones that you can find in apps that do a much better job of protecting your phone. And while Consumer Reports found that this app does a great job with anti-theft features like locking, wiping, and locating phones, those likely aren’t the primary reason you’re searching for an antivirus app in the first place.

5. Dr. Web Anti-virus

Josep Lago/AFP/Getty Images

Josep Lago/AFP/Getty Images

Dr. Web Anti-virus is a $13 antivirus Android app. Despite the moderate price tag, this isn’t an app that we’d recommend downloading, since Consumer Reports researchers found that it “was just okay at locking them and finding malware.” They did find that it was good at locating and wiping lost or stolen phones, but noted that it lacks many of the capabilities of fully-featured antivirus apps, like the ability to block malicious websites, the option to create backups, or the use of parental controls to protect your kids when they use your phone or tablet.

6. Malwarebytes Anti-Malware for Android

Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images

Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images

PC Mag reports that while security experts “know they can rely on Malwarebytes to clean up the mess when a computer is infested with viruses and other malware,” you shouldn’t depend on the Android version of the software. While this antivirus Android app is free and has features like a whitelisting tool, a privacy scanner, and an app manager, it earns low detection scores in independent lab testing. Results from AV-Test indicated that Malwarebytes detected more than 90% of the malicious sample files used in an evaluation — which sounds good until you find out that the average score in the round of testing with 30 other security apps was over 99%.