They are sometimes seen in Google Play and some phones even have them pre-installed. Brands such as AVG and McAfee are some of the largest in the growing market of antivirus apps for Android. The apps offer to scan for malware on Android phones and are said to protect users. In many cases, however, they are completely meaningless.
The idea with an antivirus app is to protect users from threats and malicious software. Already here, all antivirus apps encounter the same major problem. The point of many antivirus apps is to scan for viruses or malware and then delete them. However, how can the program know when the virus is uninstalled?
Malware developers do everything to fly under the radar of antivirus apps. Users who really want to keep their device safe have only one option once a virus has entered a phone: delete the phone and reset it completely. A complete reset is usually the only safe way to get rid of viruses. But this does not work if the virus is in the system layer. Then only the manufacturer can add a new version of the “installation file”. Anyone who encounters a virus that goes that deep gets even bigger problems.
Google antivirus protection
Once a month, Google releases an Android update that protects against critical vulnerabilities detected in the operating system. However, few smartphone manufacturers update their smartphones in time. It exposes users to risks. However, there is basic protection against viruses in the Google Play Store. According to Google, users who download apps outside of Google Play are 20 times more likely to be infected by potentially malicious software. So basic protection already exists from Google.
All software developers must be paid for their working hours. Antivirus companies are no exception. They often charge for their apps to keep users’ devices safe. In many cases, the costs are recurring in the form of annual subscriptions. Users who pay may in some cases receive extra services. Some apps offer, for example, remote locking and remote deletion. However, these are services already offered by Google.
Antivirus apps can still, in theory, protect a small number of users from potential threats. However, with Google’s existing antivirus protection in Android and Google Play, it’s hard to say that antivirus apps have any greater value. Because many antivirus apps require payment, send annoying notifications, and/or slow down the phone, they are almost always completely pointless for normal users. Their value is particularly small for users who have common sense and who follow basic safety recommendations such as:
- Only visit websites that you can trust.
- Only open emails from known and trusted senders.
- Only open attachments from known and trusted senders.
- Only install apps that you trust.
- Only install apps from Google Play.
- Use a password and/or fingerprint reader to protect your device.
If you follow these basic recommendations, you can feel more confident that your phone can not be attacked. While there may be apps that offer some handy features or benefits, the whole idea of an antivirus app on an Android phone is hard to justify. Users who do not follow the recommendations and succeed in getting a virus installed on their phone are advised to reset the phone completely. An antivirus app can probably never give you the security you want after you become infected.