I use Linux for half a decade now, so I am not used to dealing with viruses anymore. To my surprise, I saw some discussion about antiviruses in Android. I haven't installed any yet, but this bugs me: are they really necessary? Are there (or were) any known viruses in the market? Doesn't Google runs an antivirus before allowing an app to the market?

I haven't had no problem in one year of Android, but my cellphone has a lot of important information, and I wouldn't like to be surprised with some virus cleaning my phone, or making international calls while I sleep, or whatsoever. Should I install an antivirus?

  • It's even bad practice to run Linux without an AV. Same thing goes for Android. Google doesn't check the apps.
    – Arda Xi
    Commented Sep 14, 2010 at 16:58
  • Please be aware, that an antivirus requires viruses. If there are no known viruses, an antivirus is worthless since android itself already has some built-in protections. Once viruses start coming out (its enevitable) for android/iphone then we will need AV software to actually keep track of different backdoors (assuming the android os does not try to solve each problem as part of the os). Also note that AV on linux checks for windows viruses incease there are interactions between systems, so that one is important too. Commented Sep 15, 2010 at 19:02
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    Just to clarify -- the AVs I see installed for Linux are there for when people use Linux for email servers or file sharing, and they are to catch Windows-based virus signatures. As far as I know, there are no known Linux viruses, only exploits through systems not updated, and even then are extremely rare.
    – Volomike
    Commented Dec 20, 2010 at 10:05

5 Answers 5


You shouldn't need to worry about running an anti-virus on your phone. I would recommend running one on your PC though and having it set to scan peripheral devices. When you plug in your phone and it gets mounted as a mass storage device the desktop's antivirus will scan the phone for viruses' signatures and you will be doing the minimum to ensure your security.

It is an illusion to believe that just because you are running *nix or OSX you won't benefit from the security afforded by AV software; that said you dont need to spend anything to get a good, lean program especially in Linux.


There have been a few reports of Trojans that basically pretend to do something, but they are actually texting short codes charing you money or stealing data or something. However, I'm not sure how these 'anti virus' programs could actually counter that as they don't have anyway to monitor what these other apps are actually doing.

All you really need to do is take a close look at the permissions requested when you install an app, and ask yourself 'should this app need full internet access and contacts access and location?'

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    There was a known "virus" live background which sent data about you to it's servers. Can you really distinguish this vs ads? Commented Sep 15, 2010 at 19:04
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    @Dmitriy - or vs all the legitimate apps that harvest your data.
    – sickgemini
    Commented Feb 23, 2011 at 5:24

I say no, and I have two reasons for that:

  1. Always read the required permissions before installing any application, and ensure that this application needs these permissions for its function and not just asks to do some crap on your phone. Do not allow any application to take permission to tamper with your phone information.

  2. Installing an anti-virus app will slow down your phone, so better scan for viruses from your PC.

  • Suppose I download free ebooks or music that might be infected. I always scan them if i downloaded them on computer. Should not one have an antivirus on phone to scan the same? I keep hearing that android is like Linux and cannot be infected in this way. Does this means one can download files like ebooks from internet without worry?
    – Prem
    Commented May 24, 2016 at 8:05
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    Yes AFAIK, android can be infected only if you install an unwanted apk which cann't happen without user interaction or system permission. System permission is given only to preloaded app in normal phone
    – Tofeeq
    Commented May 25, 2016 at 10:09

Antivirus isn't as necessary as it is on Windows but it isn't a bad idea to have it. Google does check apps that are submitted to the Play Store as far as I am aware. However, there have been a few incidents of malicious apps on the Play Store and people downloading these. The bigger issue is apps from outside the Play Store, especially if your device is rooted. It's probably sensible to have antivirus software installed, especially since they are so effective, according to the AV-Test Android results here, where some programs get close to 100% detection rates. This website also includes 'Usability', which includes whether the antivirus slows down the device during normal usage.


In Android Market was only few viruses so the possibility of catching an virus is rare occurrence. The problem is when you download the apps from internet. I highly do not recommend it. What about AV for Android phones?

I am always laughing when people insist that AV for Android device is must have.

Why it is not necessary? Consider what the names like kernel, root etc come from. Android is based on Linux and I have never heard about strong viruses for Unix like operating systems. Yes, there is possibility to create virus, yes it might work but only if you give the app permissions. That is why I think that AV for Android is just a scam. So to sum up as long as you download apps from Google market feel comfortable and just forget about viruses.

  • Wasn't me, but a few pointers: 1) there are no viruses for Android, so they cannot be on "Android Market"; 2) Market was renamed to "Google Play Store" years ago, so not sure what you're referencing. But if those two points justify a downvote is a different question :)
    – Izzy
    Commented Oct 23, 2016 at 22:18

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