Whoopsies. It appears that the popular "Avast! Mobile Security" -- it's got somewhere between 10 million and 50 million downloads from Google Play -- is marking Android's Gmail as malware. You might get a lot of spam and other unwanted e-mail, but that doesn't quite make gmail itself a malware app. This, folks, is what you call a false positive.

More: Android Malware scanners - should you use one?

Users of Avast are reporting other false positives as well, including WhatsApp, Amazon, ScoreCetner, Redbox, PayPal, Google Currents, YPMobile, HP ePrint, Rdio, Linked In, Foscam Remote and others. 

The good news is you can white list it with the app. Also, Avast apparently is aware of the mix-up and has a new set of virus definitions on the way. Support forum moderator Filip Havlicek writes:

it seems that this false positive detection somehow got through our systems to everyone. I'm sorry for that. Don't worry though, there should be a virus definitions update soon that will remove this detection. I'm going to reroute all topics to this one and lock them so everyone knows what's happening. I'll post here when the update is out so everyone can do a manual update of their definitions to fix this (or you can, of course, wait for the automatic update to happen, but manual will most probably be faster in this case).

So, yeah. False positive. Let's hope Avast didn't miss anything that actually is malware.

Source: Avast support forums
Thanks, @xalasten and @walnuts315!


Reader comments

Popular mobile security app Avast! marking Gmail, Whatsapp, others as malware


I rarely use my avast, maybe twice I have scanned my phone to find nothing after trying to figure out why my phone was acting buggy. Figured out it was because my galaxy nexus was running apps that weren't updated to run on jellybean. Avast is ok but doesn't do anything ever and doesn't seem to scan any webpages I go to on my browser.

I use TrustGo. I found it to be the best thus far. It sends out false positives once in awhile. Said Evernote was a security risk last week, but only for a couple hours.
I agree with TheWenger when he said the best malware protection is to not be an idiot. Although ...there are a BUNCH of idiots out there, that have no idea what and when to click on something. Also, there are people such as myself that let their children play on their phones and tablets. So I think in certain situations, protection is a good thing.

I have used avast for good while and it's good... But kinda sad that you keep getting days when false positives flood every app, forcing you to kill it to have some peace(both in Windows and Android).

Avast is the malware. People should uninstall this crap and not bother with any of these "security" apps. It isn't the first time these "security" apps try to scare users away from legitimate apps.

Have been using Avast since last September, and got my first False Positive today when I installed the NCCA App from CBS/Turner. I ignored it.

Yea, agreed. Stick to Google Play and Amazon, and you do not need an anti-malware app.

Even if you install pirated apps from janky sites, you probably still don't need an anti-malware app. Most of these malware reports seem to originate from China.

Do you know who keeps spreading the press releases about Android malware? The anti-malware app companies. And it's only even significant at all if they use a very loose definition of malware.

Most people don't use it for malware. It's got pretty good remote locking and tracking functions, and it's free.

I used Avast for Windows PC once. I think that's what was on my Mom's system when she got this virus that acted like a disk scanner. Fortunately, she had an online backup. Reinstalled Windows, and vowed never to use Avast again. I run AVG free. That's one I will never pay for again. The hoops you have to go through to install from a commercial disk are rediculous.

I love Avast on my PC, it is great. But I find this very funny...not only the fact that Gmail is being flagged as malware but the fact that a phone needs virus software...