VirusTotal Checks Your Android Apps Against 40 Anti-Virus DatabasesBy: Zach Walton - June 12, 2012
One of the major problems that Android faces is the widespread existence of malware. There have been fake versions of Angry Birds and Google Wallet offers that take your information or turn your phone into another piece of the Botnet collective. Google’s bouncer does a good job of keeping Google Play clean, but it can’t protect your from every app that may be malicious.
Enter VirusTotal, a new app for Android that checks all your apps against its database of 40 anti-virus systems. While it doesn’t actually get rid of viruses for you or protect you from them, it will alert you to their presence. It’s not that hard for malware to get around one or two malware detection apps that you have installed on your phone like Avast! or Norton Anti-Virus. VirusTotal checks against all of these to make sure you get the most up-to-date analysis of your apps.
As for how it works, it scans all your apps in a process that took my phone about a minute to complete. It should be noted that I have about 40 apps on my phone so it could take longer if you’re an app addict. It will then take about another minute as it compares all of your apps against its database. After that, all of your apps will be shown with either a green Droid, a red Droid or a blue question mark by it. Obviously, green is good and red is bad. The blue question mark means that the app is not in its database and needs to be manually added.
The blue question mark is actually the best part about VirusTotal. It has a vibrant community of volunteers who constantly add new apps to VirusTotal to make sure that it knows which ones are malicious or not. You can join in the effort as well by adding in apps that are accompanied by a blue question mark. You just have to join their community so that it can make the API call on your phone to upload the data it needs.
It’s a dangerous world out there for Android and VirusTotal just wants to make it a safer place. Whenever it comes to malware on Android, it’s important to remember a few basic rules. Be super careful when downloading apps from a third-party vendor. To be extra safe, never download from any vendor besides Google Play or the Amazon App Store. If you must, be cautious and check the wording of the app before downloading. Be sure that it doesn’t ask for more permissions than what similar apps require.
If you do suspect that you have an infected app, download VirusTotal from Google Play and scan your system. From there, download one of the many Anti-Virus apps. I highly recommend Avast! as it’s free and has served me well over the last few months. If all else fails, you can always just reformat your phone to destroy any traces of the malware and the rest of your data.