Android malware scanner only detects 15% of malicious code

Android 4.2 Jelly Bean features a new security tool that quickly scans downloaded apps for malicious code. It's essentially Google's way of addressing the long-time threat of malware on the company's mobile platform. However, a computer scientist at North Carolina State University found that only about 15% of malicious apps were caught by the built-in scanner.

During his testing, Xuxian Jiang loaded 1,260 instances of Android malware onto the recently-released Nexus 10, and examined which of the 1,260 instances triggered a warning to users. Surprisingly, only 193 of them correctly triggered such a warning, resulting in a measly 15.32% detection rate.

Jiang also discovered that the performance of Google's own offering lagged behind the performance of numerous third-party antivirus apps such as Avast, Symantec, and Kaspersky. Overall, the detection rates of the third-party antivirus apps were between 51% to 100%, compared with 15% for Google's offering, which comes built-in with the Google Play app.

However, Jiang points out that VirusTotal, which was recently acquired by Google, had superior detection capabilities, so hopefully Google will integrate VirusTotal's technology into the core Android OS to act as the malware scanner for downloaded apps that come through. The built-in scanner could quickly improve if Google makes this happens.

[via Ars Technica]