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Google’s built-in malware protection for Android is literally the worst

Published Aug 21st, 2018 3:04PM EDT
Android Anti-Malware
Image: Google

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Google has been improving its Android anti-malware protections for years, but that doesn’t mean its built-in tool to handle and prevent malware attacks is your best choice for staying protected. In fact, the exact opposite is true: The Play Protect malware protection that’s built into Android ranked last yet again in recent antivirus rankings.

The results come from German antivirus and security testing institute AV-TEST, GHacks reports, and they reveal that Google Play Protect isn’t ready to offer adequate protection.

The test involves 21 different mobile security products, including apps from well-known antivirus app makers. These apps were tested on 2,945 of the latest malware threats, and 2,709 malware samples discovered up to four weeks before the actual test.

Play Protect was the only antivirus program that received 0 points out a maximum of 6 in the protection category, with a detection score of 70.1% and 49.4% against real-time malware. The average for the industry was 97.4% and 96.7%, respectively. Google was the only solution that did not receive any points, and only four other products scored less than 6 points.

Google scored 0 in the protection category in all four AV-Test comparisons this year.

In the usability category, Google scored 6 points, with only seven products receiving less than the maximum. The usability score looks at things like impact on battery life, device performance, and internet traffic. It also analyzes the number of false positives. GHacks mentions similar test results from AV-Comparatives, where Google also came in last with a protection rate of 51.8%. The second worst program had a 92.3% protection rating, and that was because of a bug in the software.

Google says that Play Protect is the “most widely deployed mobile threat protection service in the world,” with over 2 billion users daily. But that’s easy to say considering the service comes preloaded on almost every Android device out there.

All these results are meaningless if you’re the kind of Android user who rarely installs any apps, or who only goes for Google Play apps. But if you’re exposed to other sources and you download other apps from Google and third parties, you might want to use a different antivirus app for your Android device in addition to the tools Google has baked into its platform.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.