'2 Billion Users Daily Security' is the slogan under which Google is promoting its Play Protect for Android. For those who don't know: this is a special set of algorithms that scan for Google Play malware and protect our smartphones from them. Google is very proud of its development, because Play Protect can search for malware not only on the device, but also outside it, for example, on websites and web services, accurately detecting spyware scripts and phishing pages. But that's in theory. But in practice, unfortunately, everything turned out to be somewhat different.
Play Protect is Google's own antivirus for Android, which in fact turned out to be not so effective
Experts from the AV-TEST bureau, which evaluates the effectiveness of anti-virus programs, analyzed the capabilities of Play Protect and came to the conclusion that this is an extremely ineffective protection system. Their research showed that out of 6,700 malicious programs that were randomly selected for the experiment, Play Protect was able to recognize only about 2,700, while the remaining 4,000 applications with destructive functions were designated as benign software, without suspecting any trick.
Why Play Protect is needed
Play Protect antivirus is mistaken in detecting both malware and benign software
Google's Play Protect was not the only antivirus that AV-TEST experts tested. Avira, Kaspersky, Bitfender, G Data, NortonLifeLock, SK Telecom and Trend Micro antiviruses were tested in the same way. They all received the maximum 18 points, while Play Protect was awarded only 6. This is quite indicative, given that Google is rather cool about antivirus on Android and suggests users to rely solely on their own product, citing its versatility and efficiency in any task.
However, Play Protect has problems not only with malicious applications, being unable to distinguish many of them from benign ones, but vice versa. Of the 2,000,000 guaranteed safe programs from Google Play that AV-TEST experts selected for the experiment, Google's antivirus mistakenly called 30 of them malicious. Yes, here the percentage of errors turned out to be significantly lower, but the very fact that Play Protect often cannot distinguish white from black raises certain concerns. Therefore, AV-TEST recommends that you do not trust your security only to Google and insure yourself using third-party antiviruses.
Do I need antiviruses for Android
Personally, for more than ten years of experience Android I have never resorted to antivirus. I did not have such a need even at the dawn of the formation of the operating system, when it was protected much worse. Either I was just lucky, or my internal protection mechanisms were triggered, but I have never come across malicious software either on Google Play or outside of it, although at the end of the 2000s, when the awareness of the need to pay for software did not come to me yet , I quite actively downloaded hacked versions of applications in the form of APKs and often did so without really understanding where I was downloading them from.
Can you do the same? I'm sure yes. In general, I have a rather skeptical attitude towards antiviruses, which, in my opinion, only slow down the system and consume those resources that, obviously, could be directed to performing other, more relevant tasks. Therefore, all I recommend is to read reviews for applications on Google Play, check their rating and number of downloads, avoid downloading software from outside the official directory and, in the end, read what privileges the installed program asks for, so that in case why not let her steal confidential information.