These hugely popular Android antivirus apps may be more dangerous than useful

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Of With over a million potentially malicious apps blocked from accessing the Google Play Store last year alone, you probably wouldn’t expect dozens more to wreak havoc on the Google Play Store. security of millions of Android users around the world practically every few weeks or so.

Unfortunately, it has been proven time and again over the years that you simply cannot rely (only) on Google to protect you from increasingly sophisticated threats and ever-improving malicious actors.

In theory, there should be so-called antivirus, “virus cleaner” or security-oriented apps, but at least based on one comprehensive new study, it may not always be a good idea to trust them. And believe it or not, this time we’re talking about the best of the best in the category instead of an obscure title from an unnamed developer with no more than a few thousand downloads under his belt.

Almost all popular antivirus apps follow you

While data collection is, let’s face it, a common, generally acceptable, and sometimes necessary practice for (almost) all types of mobile apps, we can probably agree that the most important thing in these almost unavoidable cases is a developer’s sincerity. .

When you have apps that are specifically advertised as aimed at protecting user privacy and can easily be found tracking the same users for undisclosed and thus potentially shady purposes, it’s hard not to have your trust broken for good. consider.

Of the 40 most downloaded cleaning and antivirus apps in Google Play inspected by Cybernews security experts, only two (!!!) were considered to rid themselves of obvious data privacy threats, and another two escaped this analysis by any method what is called eclipse. clearly not a good sign.

Even “Super Antivirus – Clean Virus” and “VG Enterprise Web SDK,” the two tracker-free apps on today’s list, failed to impress when it came to evaluating their overall security skills, though it was worth the effort. It is worth pointing out that it is unclear exactly how this review was conducted.

The amount and type of data kept by each of the 36 apps found guilty of this questionable practice is also not stated or detailed in any way, but to make matters worse, six of those same apps also apparently contain links. to “potentially malicious domains”.

Do you have to delete them all?

While the answer to that question may seem simple, keep in mind that these are (in theory) some of the best free Android security apps on the market today, and of course there’s no guarantee that lesser-known alternatives will not follow you.

An easy solution to this conundrum would be to turn your back on mobile antivirus programs altogether, in which case you’ll be left all alone trying to dodge the daily dangers of the android life.

That’s not necessarily as bad as it sounds if you use common sense with each app installation, including but not limited to carefully reading user reviews, paying attention to all the relevant research out there, and well, keeping an eye on Phone Arena from time to time.

That said, here are the apps that have been found to track both their users and “probable” malicious links contain:
  • dr. Capsule Antivirus, Cleaner
  • GO Security – AntiVirus, AppLock, Booster
  • Virus Hunter 2021 Virus Scanner and Phone Cleaner
  • AVC Antivirus & Virus Cleaner
  • Fancy Booster – Clean, Antivirus and Speed ​​up
  • Phone Junk – Clean Master

And here’s the painfully long list of all the wildly popular Android antivirus apps discovered to “only” track your data, ordered by number of trackers and thus apparent degree of danger (emphasis on apparent):

  • Nova Security – Virus Cleaner
  • Antivirus, Virus Cleaner, Booster – Fancy Security
  • Fancy Battery – Battery Saver, Booster, Cleaner
  • Fancy Cleaner – Boost, Cleaner Smart Security
  • Smart Security
  • Keep Clean Cleaner, Antivirus
  • Safe Security – Antivirus, Booster, Phone Cleaner
  • APUS Security Antivirus Master
  • Antivirus One – Virus Cleaner
  • FileMaster Manage & Power Clean
  • Memory Cleaner Speed ​​Booster and Clutter Removal
  • One Booster Antivirus and Cleaner
  • Phone Security – Antivirus, Cleaner, Booster
  • PoMelo File Explorer and Cleaner
  • One Security Antivirus, Clean
  • Phone Cleaner – Virus Cleaner
  • Powerful Phone Cleaner – Cleaner & Booster
  • Virus Remover – security apps, booster, cooler
  • Smart cleaner
  • Antivirus – Cleanup + VPN
  • CPU Cooler – Antivirus, Cleanup
  • Phone Cleaner, Booster, Master
  • SHAREit Lite – Sharing & File Transfer, File Manager
  • Super clean – Master of the cleaner
  • Smart Clean – Booster, cleaner
  • Antivirus and Virus Cleaner Lock
  • Clean Guard phone cleaner
  • JioSecurity Mobile Security & Antivirus
  • Antivirus – Virus Cleaner
  • Security Antivirus – Max Cleaner

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