back to article Fandroids, take your phone's antivirus and burn it – Android bod

Google takes a lot of stick from Apple and others over malware on the Android platform, but the company thinks the OS is now so secure that users don't need antivirus software. Speaking at the RSA Conference in San Francisco this week, Adrian Ludwig, lead engineer for Android security, explained that Google is now scanning for …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Common sense

    Running a properly configured privacy module and a firewall, and exercising a bit of caution when installing apps is probably a lot safer than having several antivirus modules running in parallel.

    1. h3

      Re: Common sense

      The only malware on my Android device is Google Play Services. (If it is disabled my battery life increases by 400%).

      (My definition is of malware is any program acting in the best interests of a 3rd party not me. Don't differemtiate between Google's Latitude like thing (That they built into play services and made a nightmare to disable) or a bitcoin miner on my desktop).

      Google uses the same tactics as malware authors routinely. (Installing Chrome a user on Windows uses the same sorts of tricks as well).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Common sense

        You may want to be careful here. There are a lot of Google astroturfers apologists fans who will disagree with your definition :)

        (for the record, I agree with you, your definition applies to all platforms)

      2. petur

        Re: Common sense

        FYI, one reason why Google Play Services has such an impact on your battery is because it deals with all communication to Google. So all that sycing, mails, calendar, chat, status, location,... goes over a single connection. This tactic actually saves battery. Of course, it does make all the mentioned client apps look like zero battery users...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Common sense

      "less than 1 per cent of Android devices has a malware problem"

      Still zero percent on Windows Phone devices...

      1. RAMChYLD
        Coat

        Re: Common sense

        Yes, but that's because outside of a handful of countries, clicking on the Windows App Store gives you a message saying that it's not available in your country. And thus people return their phones within a day of finding out it's only good as a doorstop in that country, preferably for a device that does have a functioning app store in their country.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Common sense

          Actually Windows App Store works in 120 countries:

          https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/apps/hh694064.aspx#account_countries

          If you live in some third world heathen hell hole then my condolences, but it works in most civilised countries.

  2. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Android's get scanned once a week?

    Interesting, considering how many are out there. I'm also almost afraid to ask... what else is being scanned? I'm really not sure I'd want anyone to have that kind of access to a device of mine.

    1. JP19

      Re: Android's get scanned once a week?

      "to have that kind of access to a device of mine"

      It isn't your device it is Google's - you just paid for it and are responsible for loading it with information for them.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Android's get scanned once a week?

        "It isn't your device it is Google's - you just paid for it and are responsible for loading it with information for them."

        This is just the truth. If you don't like it, don't buy it. But then again, what if you have to have it for work or something? I've often filled mine with misinformation just to see if I can get ridiculous advertisements thrown in my face. Either what I'm doing works or I really do care about cats that drive cars into career conferences to kill terrorists.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Android's get scanned once a week?

      {dons TinFoil Hat}

      That is almost enough to make you convert to the Church of Jobs.

      {removes hat, breathes a sigh of relief at resisting conversion}

      If I returned to using an Android device I'd want to make sure that Google didn't get its chocolate covered mits on my phone, my data, my privacy. If I can't do that then no deal.

      All of this does not make the chance of stopping using my ancient 6310i any higher.

      Even a BB device could be preferable to an android if they carry on doing this.

  3. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

    "if it makes you feel better then by all means do it."

    That no better as an argument in favour of homeopathy

    1. Ole Juul Silver badge

      Re: "if it makes you feel better then by all means do it."

      One group got a phone, the other group were given a sugar pill.

      (xkcd)

  4. ST Silver badge

    And therein lies the problem ...

    Most of us need and want to root our Android devices. I certainly do, and so do all my Android-using friends.

    And that is because the default non-root settings are simply not adequate. Most Android devices come with excessive amounts of bloatware pre-installed. Google's software itself - Google Play Services anyone? - is, in general, and for lack of a better word, a battery-draining pig. Not to mention all the Google software that insists on running as a service, regardless of whether it is being used or not. For example, does the Camera App on KitKat or Lollipop really need to run as a service, all the time? Does it need to restart itself incessantly after I manually stop it?

    The Android default for Google Location Services is High-Accuracy GPS. That is another battery killer. Why is this high-accuracy needed as a default setting? Am I being tracked by a drone? I can get a perfectly accurate location - for my needs - from Battery Saver Mode.

    Additional vendor bloatware is added in two steps: once by the device manufacturer, and a second time by the cell phone network operator, if the device is purchased that way.

    So, the only way of bringing an Android device to a reasonable battery lifespan and the only way of getting rid of all the unnecessary bloatware, and the only way of disabling the constantly restarting and annoying services, is by rooting it.

    I find this notion of "you don't need to root your phone, and you don't need anti-virus software, just trust us because we'll scan it once a week anyway - whether you want that or not - and our software is absolutely flawless too" extremely arrogant. I don't want Google scanning my Android phone.

    It's becoming increasingly difficult to tell the difference between this Google Trust-Us-We-Know-What-You-Want-Better-Than-You-Do arrogance and some iBlessing Apple would have blurted out about their magical, wonderful and absolutely necessary iProducts.

    1. DryBones
      Holmes

      Re: And therein lies the problem ...

      Congratulations. You really are the 1% here, since those happy with iOS, some manufacturer/carrier laden Android phone, or a Nexus covers the other 99%.

      What phone, exactly, are you using? I've yet to see Google Play services using more than 2% of the battery on my Nexus 5 on the Battery Use listing, and I don't see the Camera in the Running Apps listing so I'm curious how one produces those results.

      1. ST Silver badge

        Re: And therein lies the problem ...

        > Congratulations. You really are the 1% here [ ... ] I've yet to see Google Play services using more than 2% of the battery on my Nexus 5

        3 phones actually: Sony Xperia Z1, Z Ultra and Z3. All three exhibit the same battery draining with Google Play Services and camera app restarting incessantly problems. Both problems were confirmed by Sony. Go search at Sony Mobile for the post from Sony, I don't get paid to do it for you.

        Please don't even TRY blaming Sony for not being able to write decent device drivers for their own cameras, or some other bullshit of the sort. Xperia phones' cameras are made by Sony.

        And now, on to the more interesting contents of your post:

        Do you perchance work at Google? I find your blatant advertising for Google Nexus devices a bit suspicious.

        1. Steve Knox
          Facepalm

          Re: And therein lies the problem ...

          So you have a confirmed issue across Sony's range of devices, and you blame Google.

          Meanwhile those of us with non-Sony devices do not have these issues (I've had Android devices made by Samsung, Asus, ZTE, and Archos, and none of them exhibit the issues you describe.)

          Yet you claim that any problems are not Sony's fault, based solely on a purported post from the only manufacturer apparently having these issues.

          Okay. Believe whatever you like. Have a nice day.

          1. ST Silver badge

            Re: And therein lies the problem ...

            > Okay. Believe whatever you like. Have a nice day.

            1. These problems are not unique to Sony devices as you claim. Google and ye shall find.

            2. Read Sony's post about these issues. Google hasn't made a peep about Sony's claim. I am quite sure they would have made a few noises, had this been a Sony specific problem.

            3. Fandroid much?

            1. getHandle

              Re: And therein lies the problem ...

              Sony have always been shit at software.

        2. david bates

          Re: And therein lies the problem ...

          Nexus 4 - no problem with Google play or camera. The current biggest power drain is Firefox. HOWEVER My 2012 Nexus 7 had a real perform with Play Services draining the battery so that did get rooted.

        3. DryBones

          Re: And therein lies the problem ...

          Huh. I haven't used a Sony, so I can't rightly say on the specific behavior of whatever blend of hardware and software they have going there, just the stuff you already covered about manufacturers and carriers layering it on. If it's a known issue with them, ok. I recall we had something about the camera API would get stuck continuously doing a CPU wakeup and sucking battery down, needing a power reset to fix. That was 4.3.something though, I think.

          I'm on 5.1 at the moment, and was evidently wrong about battery use. It's saying 5% (left High Accuracy on evidently). That reminds me, the Battery percentages don't add to 100% OR to the percentage used. I nasty-grammed them about that once, need to do it again... Oh! Are you using the new stuff like Trusted Face and Trusted Place? Those seemed to drain it faster for me and didn't really give me much benefit, so turned them off again. Those might hold the camera and location services at the ready.

          Nope, don't work for Google, be an interesting workplace to have if I did. I just got tired of the same nonremoveable bloatware you touched on after having a Samsung Epic and Galaxy Nexus, didn't want to have to root my phone in order to strip down to the standard stuff. So I yoinked an N5 off the Play Store when they came out. This probably makes me part of like... 2% or something, to be consistent. :)

          1. ST Silver badge

            Re: And therein lies the problem ...

            > Are you using the new stuff like Trusted Face and Trusted Place? Those seemed to drain it faster for me and didn't really give me much benefit, so turned them off again.

            To start with: thank you for the rational answer.

            I don't use these Trusted thingies. I rooted all three phones and installed Disable Service, ROM Toolbox Pro and Greenify - yes I had to dole out some cash because i don't want the ads.

            Disable Service lets you choose which of the myriad processes in Google Play Services to disable. If you disable Google Play Services entirely, things stop working.

            ROM Toolbox Pro lets you convert Google Play Service and the Camera Apps to a User App from a System App, which is what they are out-of-the-box. And then Greenify hibernates idle user apps.

            So, with this combo, and with Location Services set to Battery Saver, I can get one day's worth of of battery life on the Z1 and Z3. Charged at 100% at 8AM, down to about 40% at 8PM when it goes back on the charger. Without this combo, battery will drain to 20% in about 6 hours. On the Z Ultra I get more than one day battery life, simply because it's a bigger phone with a bigger battery.

            Still, for a phone which is mostly idle during the day - I don't play videos and I don't take pictures since I'm at work, only phone calls and SMS, this battery usage pattern still seems very high.

            If you do a Google search for 'google play services battery drain' you will get about 600,000 results, including links to several Google Play Store apps claiming they fix the problem - in reality they don't. There are devices from Samsung, HTC, Motorola and LG mentioned in the results. So it does not appear to be a Sony specific problem at all.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: And therein lies the problem ...@ST

          I am seeing Google Play Store usage on 2 Sony Xperia Z variant phones of around 19%. This does seem a little high but it is in the context of a battery life of 4 days on Lollipop and 3 days on the phone on 4.4.4, so it is 19% of not very much at all.

          1. ST Silver badge

            Re: And therein lies the problem ...@ST

            > a battery life of 4 days on Lollipop

            Your experience with a 4-day battery life on Lollipop is very unique. Reports at Sony Mobile about battery life - and Lollipop in general - on Sony devices aren't that enthusiastic at all. Which is why I haven't upgraded to Lollipop:

            http://blogs.sonymobile.com/2015/04/13/continuing-our-android-5-0-lollipop-rollout-xperia-z3-dual-xperia-z1-xperia-z1-compact-xperia-z-ultra/

            This feedback is not different from Lollipop reports I've read about other devices, including Samsung and Nexus.

            Something is not well in the Land of Android.

            1. petur

              Re: And therein lies the problem ...@ST

              ST, your problem (or one of them at least) is that you read what you want to read, picking up only the bad reports and ignoring the good ones.

              Yes sme people are reporting worse battery life, some of those mention it returned to normal later on , and many report success.

              Believe what you want, just stop distributing it as 'truth' (or stat a religion)

              A fellow Xperia owner

              1. ST Silver badge

                Re: And therein lies the problem ...@ST

                > ST, your problem (or one of them at least) is that you read what you want to read, picking up only the bad reports and ignoring the good ones.

                And that is because *MY* experiences have matched the experiences described in bad reports. Not the good ones.

                And so, please stop tellling me - or anyone else - what to write or what not to write, simply because what I write does not match your expectations or experiences. That reeks of Google Attitude.

                This isn't a matter of beliefs, this is a matter of facts. The only possible justification for telling someone not to describe poor experiences with a particular piece of software or hardware would be if you were working in Marketing, in which case no-one would expect you to tell the truth either way.

                I don't work in Marketing. If Lollipop works for you on Xperia, great. It did not work for me, I had to re-flash to go back to KitKat 4.4.4. And I am definitely not the only one experiencing the battery (and other) problems I have described.

                1. alun phillips

                  Re: you want facts ...@ST

                  I get over 24 hours battery life, albeit only 6 or 7 hours SOT on my Z2, no appreciable change from 4.4 to 5.0.2, Google services currently running at 2.5‰

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: And therein lies the problem ...@ST

              For reference, I am using KK launcher on both 5.0.2 and 4.4.4. I wonder if that has anything to do with it?

        5. slightly-pedantic

          Re: And therein lies the problem ...

          I idly wonder if the reason that Sony's phone's keep the camera going is because they (sensibly) have a dedicated camera button, to which users should reasonably expect fast response from the camera app?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: And therein lies the problem ...

        Since rooting my galaxy S2 and installing android without play services battery life went from about 1 day max to several days. I know it could be that other factors are playing as well but I tend to associate the power consumption reduction to the lack of google play services. I actually wonder if it is reporting the power consumption correctly if you are seeing 2%.

        1. Loud Speaker

          Re: And therein lies the problem ...

          I confirm similar results with an S3 - With original Samsung (not network provider) firmware: battery life about 6 hours. With a third party ROM (Not CM) battery life: about 60 hours with similar use.

    2. thomas k.

      Re: And therein lies the problem ...

      As a new owner of an LG Tribute, I'm certainly tempted to root this thing.

      Of the 4GB internal memory, ~1.3GB is available to me. Fair enough, except that just updating all the Google apps drops that to ~750MB, which I can't figure out as the updates themselves - 5MB here, 10 there, 35 here - don't add up to 500+ MB. Even skipping those Google updates, I'm down to 1.15 just from the Virgin Mobile update and installing 7 apps. Grrrr.

      Other than that, I like the Tribute.

      1. thomas k.
        Facepalm

        Re: And therein lies the problem ...

        And, after a little eugoogling, I learned that the app downloads in the Play Store info *are* compressed and expand on installation, sometimes as much as 80% from the size shown on the Store description.

        Now it all makes sense.

        Would certainly be helpful if Google listed both the download and actual installation size in the descriptions

        1. davidp231

          Re: And therein lies the problem ...

          And state on the confirmation page if said app can be moved to the SD or not.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And therein lies the problem ...

      You don't need to scan your data - we can do it for you.

      You don't need privacy - we just scan your data, usage etc. to work out what ads to serve up so we can make money from you.

      Don't use other email systems - use Gmail as (we can scan your email to serve up more ads / build a profile) it's free.

      Personally I'd actually rather pay Apple more for their device to NOT have them analyse my usage / data / location / connections / social network to sell ads and indirectly make money.

      1. Cliff

        Re: And therein lies the problem ...

        >> Personally I'd actually rather pay Apple more for their device to NOT have them analyse my usage / data / location / connections / social network to sell ads and indirectly make money. <<

        Compelling case for sure. Are we certain Apple don't do those things? Pretty sure I've read up about them doing some pretty furtive stuff right here on the reg. And they don't always work to their customer's highest interest viz Apple Maps debacle.

    4. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: And therein lies the problem ...

      The Android default for Google Location Services is High-Accuracy GPS. That is another battery killer. Why is this high-accuracy needed as a default setting?

      Dependent upon settings, try this link - it may or may not reveal something of your movements

      https://maps.google.co.uk/locationhistory/b/0

      No, not movements of the bowel kind I hasten to add. Though incidences of that could probably be worked out from timing, location and the all important high-accuracy setting. As Holmes may or may not have said, "Elementary, my dear Watson"

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Anti-virus = second opinion

    If we were to ask any platform developer about its security I'm sure they'll say it's the most secure in the world.

    Anti-virus is effectively getting an almost impartial second opinion on your OS' security, a helpful side effect of a tad more protection.

    1. Loud Speaker

      Re: Anti-virus = second opinion

      Sure AV salesmen are impartal: If I was selling lifejackets, I would not rock the boat either.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    weekly scanning

    Rooted, CM, no GApps. Presumably Google aren't scanning this device.Or am I being incredibly naive?

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Martin an gof Silver badge

      Re: weekly scanning

      Not rooted original Moto G. First thing I did was go through all the running services/apps and disable any that didn't seem to impact on the use of the phone as a phone. WiFi off, except for downloading OS updates, GPS off, location tracking off, and the only apps I've installed have both been "sideloaded" so Play Store has never even been opened on my machine. Has to be noted that the G has a fairly "bare" Android to start with - hardly any "bloatware".

      I don't see network activity that I can't track down to legitimate users and I'm on a limited data plan so I need to track data usage (my wife, same phone, set up in almost the same way often gets months with 0MB of data used, but I do occasional web browsing). As a result my phone will regularly achieve 7 days between recharges and can reach 9 or 10 days if I'm careful.

      Last weekend I turned GPS on for a 5 minute check of where I was (I usually prefer a paper map but had forgotten it). Forgot to turn it off afterwards, continued using phone as normal but it needed recharging the following day; about 36 hours since the last charge. GPS is a *big* power drain.

      Presumably my phone is *not* being scanned weekly by Google?

      M.

      1. Cliff

        Re: weekly scanning

        Is a smartphone really what you need? I bite the battery bullet (and carry an external top up pack for emergencies) in order to have all the toys I want, I consume an average of 8GB/month excluding tethering, I have the screen bright enough to see, etc. My wife has a 'dumb' Nokia with forever battery life, but zero frills. You might find something like that (or in between) more attractive if battery life is more important to you than (turned off) added features :)

        1. Martin an gof Silver badge
          Unhappy

          Re: weekly scanning

          My wife has a 'dumb' Nokia with forever battery life, but zero frills. You might find something like that (or in between) more attractive

          Yes, I would find something like that (the "in between" - what used to be called a "feature phone") more attractive but there's absolutely zip available on the market these days. I hate touchscreen keyboards but I do need a half-decent "snapshot" camera. The camera in the G is the worst I have had for some time, but it's a heck of a lot better than can be found in your average "dumb phone" these days. I do appreciate having a browser available, I have been known to tether my EeePC when away, and I do make occasional use of GPS so a truly "dumb" phone won't cut the mustard. Actually, I could probably live without the GPS, but it's a "nice to have".

          Put it this way, the two phones which best matched our needs over the last few years have been the Sony Ericsson K800i and the Nokia 6220 Classic. Both had GPS, both could run Opera and both would last at least a week on a charge without taking any special precautions. Video taken by the Moto G trumps either of those (especially the K800's QCIF) but its still photographs don't. It's quite nice to read The Register on a larger screen, but for sheer usability as a flippin' phone for phonecalls and texts...

          Reminds me of the discussion recently about simple portable computing devices. I didn't chip in to that discussion, but I would definitely be in the market for an updated clone of the Psion Series 5. I completed a PGCE in 2000 with one of those as my only computing device. The form factor was great, but it was the OS that made the device work - instant on and a week of essay writing and the like from a pair of AAs.

          M.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Probably the latter.

  8. This post has been deleted by its author

  9. captain veg

    unsaid

    "Every Android device gets scanned at least once a week by Google's security systems, Ludwig said.

    "And at least once a day by our friends at the NSA.

    "And, of course, a couple of times an hour by Google's personal and behavioural data hoovering systems, he added."

    -A.

  10. Kurt 4

    If Google didn't have a malware problem then they wouldn't need to scan your device once a week. Basically they do have a malware problem and that's why they scan once a week.

  11. channelswimmer

    The main Google Play service battery killer is that it regularly checks your position and the Wifi networks that you can see. It then sends this to Google so that Google can keep its database up to date - and this doesn't help you at all. To fix this:

    root your phone

    install the xposed framework

    install Amplify.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019