Antivirus for Android?

Bernhard E. Reiter bernhard at
Wed Dec 30 10:08:31 UTC 2020

Hello Lucas,

Am Freitag 18 Dezember 2020 11:29:08 schrieb Lucas Lasota:
> a friend has asked me if there would be an "antivirus" or at least an
> app against malware in Android.

there are apps out there that shall help to secure an Android device.
Some help to analyse apps, others try to offer something 
like "antivirus"-functionality. I don't know how effective these apps are.

> What do you think - there are some FOSS alternatives out there or such
> app would not make sense?

App helping mobile device security can be a good idea, I believe, if the apps 
themselfs are good (and do not introduce other problems by themselves which 
has happend in the past with antivirus software.).
However Android security seems to be a complicated topic, as the company doing 
most work on Android earns most of their money by advertising and so they 
want to sell many apps through their play store. This is partly a conflict of 
interest between protecting users and letting app developers do business.

Still overall the main security comes from the installer Android "variant" and 
core components. So you need to at least make sure that you have current 
software for the operating system, including the media stack and browser 

That is hard enough, because most mobile device hardware vendors to not give 
you updates for long. Using third-party rebuilds like LineageOS or 
LineageOS-MicroG can be a way to get updated software again.
So first think about current software, before you think about additional 
security apps.

Some security apps are Free Software (others are not).

Here is one that is Free Software aims for disabling loggers and trackers:

Here is an Artikel in German by Heise(1) (2020-03-14) 

They say (rough summary):
  * Make sure to activate the Google Play Protect 
    (the integrated virus scanner) is installed and running.
    It shall come and is activated by default. 
    Play Store -> Play Protect, check if both is activated.
    Since Android 8 also in systems settings.
  * (take the usual precautions)
  * There is no clear answer if antivirus apps are useful or not.
    Some security suites offer additional features.

[1] Heise-Verlag is one of the more serious technology publishers in Germany

Another expert publication (in German) by Mike Kuketz writes a lot about
security, privacy and Android:
  writes (rough translation):
  It is superfluous to install additional AV-scanner apps.
  Even further, they come with uncalculable risks.

See more about Android from Mike Kuketz, with lots of Free Software Apps to 
increase security: (in German)

So you have two credible sources of advise that come to different conclusions,
with a tendency of not going for antivirus apps on Android, unless you need
something specific. Other security apps, like AFwall or the mentioned above 
are recommened by Kuketz, most of them Free Software, but many only for 

Personally I'd say: Put energy into getting updates first.
Then into identifying software vendors you really trust and you can pay for.
Next replace proprietary apps with apps from, where you can.
And you've done a lot.

Best Regards,

FSFE -- Founding Member     Support our work for Free Software: | contribute
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: signature.asc
Type: application/pgp-signature
Size: 659 bytes
Desc: This is a digitally signed message part.
URL: <>

More information about the Discussion mailing list