Android security chief: anti-virus apps are overrated

July 13, 2014
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When you are partly in charge of making a product, of course you want to project your product in the best light possible. But when Google's chief security engineer for all things Android, Adrian Ludwig, downplayed the value of anti-virus apps before Google I/O 2014, he might have projected a different and harmful image instead. While he claims that majority of users won't benefit from malware-hunting apps on Android, the number of malware on the platform, even those that get through Google Play Store's own bouncers, prove otherwise.

Ludwig perhaps cannot be faulted for claiming that Android and Google by themselves are more than capable of protecting their users. After all, it is bad marketing to publicly extol the inadequacy of your own products. However, Ludwig's eyes might have been far too jaded to make an objective assessment of the matter. In fact, he was so bold to claim that 99 percent and more of Android users do not need to install such things. Only those who work in the line of fire might need to, but for the rest of the world, what Android provides is enough. Or so he claims.

Sure, Android does have its own malware protection, and Google Play Store also makes frequent checks of its catalog. But if you follow our security and malware tag portals, you will know that neither always work. Ransomware to even fake security apps have been able to exist on Google Play Store, sometimes even for days, with Google none the wiser. But there are also other sources of Android apps, from full-blown market alternatives to just sideloading an APK directly. Google has no direct control over these and Android has been proven sometimes inadequate to stop their rampage as well.

Ludwig was also quick to point the finger at anti-virus security companies that do make a profit from these apps. He practically accuses them of crying wolf in order to get users to run to them for protection. While we can neither prove nor deny such underhanded tactics, security apps such as these do provide some features that Google does not provide in a stock Android, like protected or private apps, frequently updated databases of known malware, and more. More than protecting users from malware, these sometimes also protect users from themselves as well, something Google might be better off not doing itself, lest it cause the ire of majority of Android users who do prefer the tech giant to keep the platform open and free.

VIA: Naked Security


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  • KojiroAK

    He is right, the whole antivirus apps pretty much only slow down the system or even make it instable, because the antivirus tries to mess around with stuff it really shouldn’t.
    You gain near zero of added security.

    There’s a reason many people who are really into security call those snakeoil.

    And please do not tell the people they should install those, all they have to do, stick to the play store and check the rights an apps want. If you are uncertain why a app need the rules, ask at best the developer of the app sometimes even other people can tell you why the app needs this rights.

  • tiger

    Remember to encrypt! Or else your junk will be on every Facebook page!

    Lol android security…what is that?!