Android's Malware Scanner is a Relatively Useless Placebo

By Gary Cutlack on at

Google recently revealed that its latest 4.2 version of Android would offer built-in app scanning features, which we hoped would bring an end to the endless malware shock horror stories Android tends to suffer from. But one researcher claims it's virtually useless.

The data comes from professor Xuxian Jiang of the Department of Computer Science at North Carolina State University, who ran the Android 4.2 scanner against a known list of malicious code as part of his team's Malware Genome Project.

In the university's latest tests, Google's automated scanner picked out just 193 of the 1260 known threats it was posed, making that a pretty poor detection rate of just over 15 per cent.

Jiang then scanned the same list of malicious apps using off-the-shelf mobile security tools from the likes of Kaspersky, BitDefender and TrendMicro, and found they did a much better job, catching between 50 and 100 per cent of malicious apps. Jiang puts their higher success down to Google only using an app's SHA1 value to detect bad boys, which is easily bypassed by hackers. [AppVerify via Techradar]