Free Anti-Malware Apps For Android Fall Short

Android Phone

Recent articles about how free anti-malware apps for Android fall short of expectations through a targeted study come as no surprise.

I’ve previously written a blog-entry of how I fell into a state of false hope when I expected a certain (unnamed but very popular) application to find the cause of my unwarranted high data usage, only to be told that everything was supposedly ‘clean’ on my device.

Asking a simple client based app to monitor and inspect everything going into and out of today’s smartphones and tablets (let alone PC’s connected via 3G or 4G sessions) is a tall order.

Vast amounts of incoming and outgoing data comprised of web requests (and resulting downloads), Twitter feeds and Facebook updates (including tinyURLs that mask the true destination of a web link), emails with attachments, SMS with a new language of acronyms and the plethora of application updates is a lot to handle for both the software and the device.

In fact, it’s been suggested that if a truly capable client app arrived in market checking every byte for potentially malicious content, your device would be too busy to allow you to make a call and your battery would last less than an hour.

In a world where over 24 hours of YouTube video is uploaded every minute, there is no denying that the transmission of data has surpassed forecasts. While we ponder this fact for a moment and reluctantly accept it, many still question that mobile malware is exploding exponentially also.

Sure, sometimes it seems like it is being a little overblown by the IT media pundits, but the fact is that your device – any device – has information that is valuable to cyber-criminals. Therefore it is an attractive target. More devices equals more data, and more data provides a goldmine for cyber-criminals.

While I don’t expect client applications to disappear from the app markets as a result of these studies, I do implore carrier and corporate security analysts – and everyday mobile subscribers – to understand and accept the limitations of such software. After all, as with many things in life, you get what you pay for.

Prior to founding AdaptiveMobile in 2003, Gareth Maclachlan was Wireless Investment Director at global VC firm ETF Group, and Principal Consultant at PWC, responsible for the UK e-business practice. Gareth led projects with the UK Home Office, National Criminal Intelligence Service, Interpol and other UK and European security bodies to assess and respond to the emerging national threats from the Internet. Gareth has also been a board member for mobile marketing companies, and was involved in a joint venture with Kirch Gruppe on mobile entertainment.